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Wisconsin Union Protests

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SapereAude
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Running away to avoid a vote discredits the rationale that Democrats are advocates of democracy.

People seem to oppose obstructionist tactics when they are used against legislation they support, but support them when they are used against legislation they oppose. Recall, for instance, how Democrats pissed and moaned about the potential for a Republican filibuster of Obamacare, when they engaged in the exact same tactics against numerous judicial appointments under Bush.

There is something to be said for consistency in your approach to democratic government. Though I am firmly with the Republicans on this particular bill, the tactic that the Democrats used was a perfectly legitimate attempt at being a check on majority rule. If I oppose it now, how can I support it when the tables are turned, and someone is trying to filibuster a bill that I oppose?

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People seem to oppose obstructionist tactics when they are used against legislation they support, but support them when they are used against legislation they oppose. Recall, for instance, how Democrats pissed and moaned about the potential for a Republican filibuster of Obamacare, when they engaged in the exact same tactics against numerous judicial appointments under Bush.

There is something to be said for consistency in your approach to democratic government. Though I am firmly with the Republicans on this particular bill, the tactic that the Democrats used was a perfectly legitimate attempt at being a check on majority rule. If I oppose it now, how can I support it when the tables are turned, and someone is trying to filibuster a bill that I oppose?

Isn't there a significant distinction between using a fillibuster (a legitimate legislative tactic permitted by Senate rules) and fleeing the state to avoid a vote? The members of the Wisconsin senate were elected to debate and vote on issues that come before their legislative body. They weren't elected to engage in any and every tactic, including illegitimate ones, to prevent voting on legislation that they don't support.

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There is something to be said for consistency in your approach to democratic government. Though I am firmly with the Republicans on this particular bill, the tactic that the Democrats used was a perfectly legitimate attempt at being a check on majority rule. If I oppose it now, how can I support it when the tables are turned, and someone is trying to filibuster a bill that I oppose?

There's a difference between opposing an abandonment of democracy because one personally believes in democracy (which I assume is not what's going on here), and pointing out that people who actually do give lip service to democracy are hypocrites when they abandon these principles as soon as things don't go their way. For people who see no room for democracy in deciding the basic activities of government (like many people here, I expect), there would be no hypocrisy in such a move, but for mainstream Democrats (and Republicans) who pretend sometimes that democracy legitimizes government action, the hypocrisy here is glaring and deserves scorn.

Edited by Dante
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Isn't there a significant distinction between using a fillibuster (a legitimate legislative tactic permitted by Senate rules) and fleeing the state to avoid a vote? The members of the Wisconsin senate were elected to debate and vote on issues that come before their legislative body. They weren't elected to engage in any and every tactic, including illegitimate ones, to prevent voting on legislation that they don't support.

I would argue that the tactic, in and of itself, is not illegitimate. It's not like this is used every time people oppose a particular bill. Occasional use of obstructionist tactics can be effective. I don't think it should have been used in this particular case, because I support the new legislation. But imagine that the tables are turned...imagine that a Democratic majority is trying to vote massive new powers to the public sector unions, and the Republicans fled the state to avoid a quorum. Would you still consider it illegitimate?

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I would argue that the tactic, in and of itself, is not illegitimate. It's not like this is used every time people oppose a particular bill. Occasional use of obstructionist tactics can be effective. I don't think it should have been used in this particular case, because I support the new legislation. But imagine that the tables are turned...imagine that a Democratic majority is trying to vote massive new powers to the public sector unions, and the Republicans fled the state to avoid a quorum. Would you still consider it illegitimate?

Yes, I would still consider it illegitimate. If a Democrat majority were voting to give massive new powers to the public sector unions, then it would be up to the Republicans to win a majority in the next election and reverse that legislation. However, if the Democrats were voting to restrict free speech or take away the right to keep and bear arms, then this would be a legitimate tactic as far as I'm concerned. For me, it's a matter of the degree of the rights violation being legislated. Of course, taking collective bargaining away from public sector unions isn't a rights violation at all, so this tactic is particularly illegitimate in this situation.

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If the Democrats were voting to take away the 1st and 2cd Amendments, the Republicans would be right in leaving - right to the closest and best organized group arming themselves to defend the Republic. :ninja:

Agreed, that's when the torches and pitch forks come out!

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Yes, I would still consider it illegitimate. If a Democrat majority were voting to give massive new powers to the public sector unions, then it would be up to the Republicans to win a majority in the next election and reverse that legislation. However, if the Democrats were voting to restrict free speech or take away the right to keep and bear arms, then this would be a legitimate tactic as far as I'm concerned. For me, it's a matter of the degree of the rights violation being legislated. Of course, taking collective bargaining away from public sector unions isn't a rights violation at all, so this tactic is particularly illegitimate in this situation.

Then you oppose it in both cases, which is at least consistent. But this isn't the opinion of many people who call the tactics "legitimate" when used for their own purposes, but "illegitimate" when used by their opponents. I'm just calling for consistency.

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I have heard the argument that states don't have the right to abrogate contracts, even though that is what they are doing in Wisconsin and other states. Any thoughts on the constitutionality/legality of this? I'm not really sure how to argue it.

I don't see how taking away collective bargaining is an abrogation of any contract. There is no contract in place that says states have to continue to collectively bargain with their workers. Once a union contract expires, the state and the union are free to negotiate. In this case, some states are saying we will only allow collective bargaining on certain issues and not others.

On the other hand, if a state is welching on retirement obligations made previouisly, then I would be against that. Having said that, the specific wording in the contract would be very important. All union contracts that I'm aware of are for a specific time period or term. Once the contract expires, all provisions related to employment and compensation should be fair game.

One should also consider that many states are constitutionally prohibited from running budget deficits. If they have entered into contracts that are causing deficits, then the people of the state have a few limited options. They can raise revenue through taxation or they can reduce expenses by laying off or firing state employees. Given that tax increases are unlikely in the current economy, I would prefer to pay for some of my healthcare and retirement rather than losing my job altogether.

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