In the Bluff

a blog from Wisconsin’s west coastPublisher Sam Scinta

(the opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only, and do not represent the opinions of the company or its employees)

March 10, 2010

 

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice.

Alice in Wonderland

As most of you are aware, things have taken a turn for the strange and the worse out here in Wisconsin. It definitely feels like we are tumbling down the rabbit hole and that these latest actions will most certainly have national ramifications. I will leave it to others smarter than I to weigh in on the legality of the Wisconsin State Senate’s move last evening (passing in special subcommittee, with no public notice and without a quorum, a bill that strips away collective bargaining for most public employees); upon cursorily reviewing the materials, a case can certainly be made for its legality. Suffice it to say, legal or not, what happened here in Wisconsin last evening was an affront to the democratic process. To rush something like this through without notifying the public (and giving cursory notice to the Democratic state senators), effectively making a secret backroom deal (when hints of compromise by both sides were being expressed just the day before) and twisting procedural and parliamentary rules to get your way, is not what we should expect from our government. I request that those who support actions like this halt any references to the founders and our constitution in making their arguments, for surely, this is not the sort of government our founders had in mind.

While almost all of the Republican state senators voted for the bill, a lone voice of dissent stood up yet again—Senator Dale Schultz. We should all thank Senator Schultz today for his stand on government transparency, for his continued willingness to find compromise on a complex and difficult issue, and for his sense of fair play. He is a modern-day profile in courage. I have had the good fortune to know and work with many courageous and principled politicians over the years, (including one of my political heroes, Wisconsin-native Dick Lamm, who was willing in many instances to stand up for his convictions even if it meant losing support of his party). Senator Schultz will be remembered long after this debate has passed, when all of the other names are forgotten, as the Republican who stood up for the people and for democracy.

So where do we go from here? The state legislature will move ahead with its actions and battle lines will continue to be drawn; legal challenges to the latest actions are almost a certainty; and protests and recall efforts will push ahead, as the citizens of the state engage in the democratic process. Because these issues represent a turning point not only for Wisconsin but for the nation, I am going to redouble my efforts through Fulcrum and its affiliates to continue providing a platform for intelligent and civil debate on the future of our country. This will include looking to the founders and their wisdom, for we need them now more than ever. Don’t confuse this with the recent trend of founder fetishization; men like Adams and Jefferson were not giants walking the earth, and they certainly made their share of mistakes. But in creating the American political system, they understood that this American experiment was subject to change and continued debate. As Fareed Zakaria noted in a recent article, “The founders loved America, but they also understood that it was a work in progress.” This much-needed debate can only occur by those willing to share and listen, to sometimes face uncomfortable truths, to show a willingness to compromise, and most importantly, to comport oneself with civility. In the coming weeks, through a variety of projects under way, we will be doing our small part to help restore the debate and forge a more perfect union.