Democracy is under assault, but not in the manner presented by the New York Times. Not surprisingly, the op-ed pages of the nation’s leading advocate for leftist opinion have opined that the demonstrations against Governor Scott Walker’s fight to rein in spending in Wisconsin was akin to the uprising in Egypt. Paul Krugman, never one to shy away from controversy, argued that Gov. Walker was trying,
“to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.”
Even less surprising, the blog posts from the Huffington Post were teeming with calls for solidarity with the demonstrators in Madison. Howard Schweber, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote, “It’s not about the money. It has never been about the money.” He continued,
“It’s about ‘democracy,’ and it’s not really a coincidence that every petty tyrant you have ever heard of from Latin America to the Middle East started by crushing the trade unions.”
In essence, the left-leaning media is describing the actions of the democratically-elected legislators of Wisconsin and Governor Scott Walker as a tyrannical assault on democracy. The problem with their argument is that what is occurring in Wisconsin, and increasingly around the country, is a byproduct of the democratic process itself. They may not like to admit it, but the Democratic party’s agenda lost.
Last November, the American people soundly repudiated the consistent tax and spend policies of the Democratic party, handing it severe losses in the United States congress as well as the nation’s respective state houses. The legislative activity currently embroiling Wisconsin and Ohio, designed to curb the influence of public sector unions, are the consequences of democracy. The Democratic party should heed the warnings of November and tread carefully as they continue to subvert the will of voters in the Midwest.
It is understandable that the Democratic party sees the unfolding drama in Wisconsin as anathema to their broader interests. In establishing decades of reliance upon an agenda predicated on symbiosis with the nation’s union establishment, Democrats have placed themselves in a rather untenable position: continue to support the often irrational and deleterious policies of many public sector unions or adopt a conciliatory tone of restraint and risk upsetting the cash cow that has enabled Democratic politicians to enjoy the fruits of others labor.
What is at stake in Wisconsin and Ohio is far more important than the mere haggling over defined benefit pensions or collective bargaining on wages. What is at stake is the democratic process. Our system of representative government allows for the interests of all Americans to be heard, not merely those willing to engage in protestations and civil disobedience. The members of the Wisconsin State senate should return to Madison and vehemently defend the interests of their constituents, and although that is likely to result in their failure, it will nonetheless embody the true spirit of a representative democracy.