I am so sick of listening to the non-sequiturs out there, including those coming from Gov. Rick Walker himself.

First of all, it has been repeatedly pointed out that the vast majority of public and union workers “did their job” and did not come to Madison to protest. So, am I to deduce that the only people who want the bill killed skipped work and came to Madison?  Obviously the swelling numbers who weathered the cold are only a small fraction of those who oppose the proposed bill.  It is not a stretch to assume that there are countless people in Wisconsin who, because they have been so beaten down by the powers that daily exploit them, can’t afford to take off of work (if indeed they are working) to come to Madison. The fact that there is such a large subset of the public workers who did show up clearly demonstrates how significant this movement is. And given the fact that the right wing has laid down millions of dollars to air commercials in Wisconsin attacking the protestors shows that there is a concern that this movement is more widespread then the rhetoric indicates.

Second, it has been argued that the people have spoken: after all, they elected Walker and a Republican majority in the legislature. So we are to suck it up and accept “the will of the people.” That isn’t democracy, that’s stupidity. Hitler came to power with a majority; would the Germans be out of line to challenge his subsequent proposals?  There are many reason people vote for this or that candidate.  But this is a specific bill with long-term ramifications that people who voted for him, or not, can accept or reject. To connect the election results with the reaction to this bill is ultimately asking people to bury their heads in the sand until the next election. However, if people were inclined to do this, then our lawmakers would not know how their constituents feel about this or that proposal. They would be operating in a vacuum, which of course undermines the democratic process.

Third, many in the private sector have argued that their benefits have been cut, that their wages have stagnated, that they have been making countless sacrifices and that it is high time the public workers do the same.  Putting aside the fact that the unions are willing to make cuts to help the economy, it should be pointed out that if it is the case that public workers are “doing better” it only shows the power of collective bargaining.  Perhaps there should be more unions in the private sector and more of a positive attitude toward unions in general.  If the public workers who are “compelled” to join a union now have it better, those opposing this disparity should put aside their jealousy and follow the dots.  When we are organized, when we have one voice, we can stand united against those who want to run us into the ground because of their greed and reckless behavior.  Workers, both public and private, did not cause this recession; Wall Street did.  But private workers are helpless to defend themselves from Wall Street’s (and our state and federal government officials who sleep with them) “remedies” to make those who are already hurting to fix the economy.

Fourth (and last), it has been argued that the Democratic senators that left the state are being “childish” and “irresponsible.” What is childish about preventing a bill you and your constituents think is morally wrong? Is it irresponsible to buy time to see how many people see things the same way? It was a brilliant move to take advantage of a procedural loophole to delay the process in order to foster a dialogue about the long-term significance about what is being proposed. Is it so hard for critics to see the similarity between this move and the many filibusters the Washington Republican minority staged to slow down legislation these past two years?  And yet opponents of the Wisconsin Senator’s “stunt” have snorted, “Do your job!” How can they not see that they are doing precisely that? Haven’t they heard the old bromide: what’s good for the goose…?


Michael Synowicz
Michael Synowicz

Michael Synowicz is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the College of Lake County and at Harper College in Illinois. He is an active member of the AFT union there. He serves on the board of directors at People's Books Co-op in Milwaukee, where he also volunteers. He worked as an activist for two organizations in Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Working America. At the Citizen Action he canvassed for universal health care; at Working America (an affiliate of the AFL-CIO) he canvassed to get Barack Obama elected. He has written three novels with a philosophical bent and a number of philosophical pieces. He is currently working on a book entitled "We the Milwaukee Progressives," where he is profiling a number of Milwaukee's unsung heroes in the progressive movement. He also served as a board member of a free health clinic, the Bread of Healing Clinic, where he wrote patient stories for their website.