Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Results of Elections

I am against union-busting and believe unions have contributed to the growth of the middle class in America, but I can't agree with state legislators from Wisconsin and Indiana who have left their states to deny the majorities the quorums necessary to pass controversial legislation denying public unions collective bargaining rights. These flights across state lines are the latest manifestation of a troubling trend in our politics of minorities unwilling to accept the results of elections. This is a bipartisan phenomenon. Many conservatives were unwilling to accept the legitimacy of the Clinton presidency, dedicating years to investigations over character issues, ultimately leading to an impeachment vote and trial in the Senate. We've seen similar efforts to delegitimize Obama- with the so-called "birthers" and majorities of conservatives unwilling to accept he is a Christian.

Minorities have rights and I can understanding the desire of pro-union legislators to do everything in their power to prevent the passage of what they perceive to be pernicious legislation. But the abuse of minority power is a perversion of our politics and unheathy for our system. Ultimately, duly elected majorities ought to be able to implement their agenda, so voters can then either reward or punish them at the polls at the next election. Instead, voters often lash out at the party in power not for what they have done, but out of frustration toward a system that is not working, because of problems that are left unsolved, election cycle after election cycle.

When majorities eventually become minorities - as the cycles of politics almost always dictate - then it is payback time to frustrate the new majorities' agenda. Instead of bursts of energy and change following elections, we get stasis and gridlock.

The flight of the pro-union legislators is not only bad for our system, but it is bad politics for them. Texas Democrats proved this when they departed for New Mexico to prevent a vote on a congressional redistricting plan in 2003. They could not hold the protest together and lost. If I were a pro-union Wisconsin legislator, I would fill my office with teachers and firefighters and other people who work hard and play by the rules and dare the governor to send in the state police to force me to come vote. The image of me being carried into the chamber by police surrounded by workers is the type of imagery that will help win elections next time around.

1 comment:

  1. I like the image of David being hauled down the hall to vote in a faculty meeting...I think this trend is linked to the politics of illegitimacy that i blogged on here