Streams

As Wisconsin Bickering Continues, a Real Compromise Languishes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WNYC

Democrats in the legislature have literally abandoned their posts, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signaled he is not interested in any compromise whatsoever.

Doctors (who should lose their licenses for this) are giving hypocritical teachers fake doctor's notes so they can abandon their posts, left wingnuts are calling Walker a Nazi, right wingnuts are responding with their own brand of insanity and a whole hell of a lot of nothing but empty grandstanding is getting done.

And while the political hacks vie for air time on MSNBC and Fox News, a real compromise has been on the table this whole time, waiting for any major politician to take notice.

The unions have already agreed to eat the cuts they've been asked to take to help balance the budget — they just aren't willing to accept losing their collective bargaining rights. While they've certainly gone overboard in some ways, their problem with this is completely understandable.

Those who argue that taking these rights away is acceptable usually point to how the unions abuse this to get higher wages and benefits than states are able to afford, since they really do have an insane amount of power over the Democrats. But that isn't a reason to take their rights away, any more than it would be okay for the Democrats to take away the rights of business owners to donate to organizations that have a similar hold over the Republicans.

That Democrats have been giving unions compensation they can't afford, and that Republicans cut taxes they can't afford, is not reason to bar unions from their right to form an association and negotiate for what they believe to be fair compensation, or for business groups to try and lobby government to give them breaks. In our country, we have a right to free association. No matter who we are, or what issue we're fighting for, we have the inalienable right to gather and fight for what we believe as a group.

That people clearly abuse this right in no way makes it acceptable to take it away, or limit it. Democracy is messy.

The real solution is we need to take a look in the mirror and realize that we're enabling these jackals every time we vote for them.

We need to have higher standards. We need to stop supporting lesser evils, corrupt parties and crooked political organizations, and only give your vote, money and energy towards candidates who are genuine about getting work done, which requires compromise.

For Walker and these cowardly Democrats who've left the state, the best message Wisconsin voters can send to hacks like that is to voice your concerns now. Push them to stop acting so immature, pass this common sense compromise both sides are ignoring and when these jokers come up for election again, toss them out with the trash.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.

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Comments [11]

Marcello from Brooklyn

Wow!...

Feb. 28 2011 08:45 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"This statement is truly too idiotic to warrant a rejoinder."

The feeling is mutual.

Feb. 25 2011 11:41 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"If you were in their position, would you accept the Republican destruction of unions' collective bargaining rights because the other side had demonstrated ZERO willingness to compromise, or would you do whatever you could to protect your middle class constituents' rights and well being?"

Thats a false choice, but you know that already.

I would have argued my position, voted, lost, and used it next time around to try and win more seats to people who think more like me. Elections have consequences. Your side lost.

"Your effete penchant for self-satisfying "moderation" ensures weakness and failure, and that's exactly what you'd get by acquiescing to Governor Walker and the screwing over of the unions. Fortunately, the Democrats in Wisconsin know who and what they're fighting for."

How about you stick to your own thoughts, and stop pretending you can see my thoughts?

I disagree with the use of tactics like that. I also disagree with the way they ended up ramming it through in the end by the way. I don't care who does it, when you get elected, you stay at your post and do your damn job. All of your prevaricating is no excuse. Avoiding losing is no excuse. They lost when they lost the election... playing these games only delays the inevitable, and the right the other side got when they won the election.

You see I actually believe in the process of representative democracy.

"Its ideological coherency -- something you completely lack because you believe that your brand of centrism is inherently superior and is the solution to partisan impasses such as this. News flash: it ain't."

I don't think ANY ideology is inherently better than any other, but thanks again for looking the fool by pretending you know what I'm thinking.

I don't subscribe to an ideology n the first place. These are MY OPINIONS, that I come to on my own, not some cookie cutter centrist thing. There is no centrist ideology.

"This is the logical outcome of what you're advocating, because you simply don't know what you're talking about, and because in your Magical Moderate Myopia, we can all just get along if Democrats cave to Republicans and sell out the people who put them in office."

Again... neither do I believe this, nor do I think we would all get along if there were more moderates in power.

Are you going to eventually get around to arguing with ME, rather than this cartoon of what I'm saying that you're making up in your head?

Feb. 25 2011 11:19 PM
Jeremy from Omaha, Nebraska

The second half of my response:

"A whole hell of a lot of swing voters were so turned off by the dems' pushing too far to the left that they swung the other way, and left leaning indies didn't turn out because of the same reason."

This still doesn't substantiate your "lesser evil" solipsism, because a voter's preference is a voter's preference, period. And if some voters didn't turn out, they sure as hell didn't vote for the "lesser evil," they just didn't vote. By the way, "left leaning indies" are usually MORE liberal than Democrats, and are frequently dissatisfied with the extent to which Democrats embrace progressive ideals and policies.

Again, your misreading of the politics here suggests that you're not really a serious thinker, but instead a middle-of-the-road hack who's political identity is wrapped up in a slipshod posture of knowing better when actually knowing nothing.

"Why exactly should I give a rats ass why these legislator did something that I think it NEVER the right thing to do?"

Funny that you embrace an absolutism when decrying steadfastness on the part of Wisconsin Democrats to prevent unions from being destroyed at the hands of an uncompromising Republican governor.

"How about you come back and argue with what I've actually said, instead of building rediculous straw men."

I didn't build a straw man, I followed the LOGICAL conclusion of your stated desire: that WI Democrats, having received ZERO indication of Walker's willingness to work out a bipartisan compromise, willingly fulfill the quorum necessary for him to pass a policy which will strip union workers of their rights to collectively bargain.

This is the logical outcome of what you're advocating, because you simply don't know what you're talking about, and because in your Magical Moderate Myopia, we can all just get along if Democrats cave to Republicans and sell out the people who put them in office.

"When you take office, you don't take an oath to represent your district when it is convenient for you, you represent your district, period. "

Yet another Kleinsmithian axiom that completely disregards the actual politics of the Wisconsin situation and the fact that the Democrats' are SUPPORTED in this drastic step by their constituents who put them in office to fight for their rights and interests. How you manage to continually miss this salient point can only be explained by your grovelling fealty to the hollow ideology of centrism for centrism's sake, and, frankly, why you'll never succeed in politics. You've got no true bearings beyond "i don't like all this bickering."

"If I left the state and didn't show up for work for days, I'd be fired. That should apply to legislators too."

This statement is truly too idiotic to warrant a rejoinder.

Feb. 24 2011 05:56 PM
Jeremy from Omaha, Nebraska

"I thought I was pretty clear that I'm condemning Walker for his unwillingness to compromise, and the dem legislators for abandoning their posts..."

They didn't "abandon their posts", they denied the Republicans the quorum necessary to pass their radically destructive anti-union policy, at the obvious BEHEST and with support their constituents who view this fight as a pivotal one for their future livelihoods. Texas legislative Democrats did the same thing in 2003 when Republicans gerrymandered the hell out of Texas' congressional districts, in volition of federal law. Its not a "game" or "bickering" its called sticking to your guns when you're doing what's right. That this is lost on you in your Centrism Über Alles mantra isn't surprising.

If you were in their position, would you accept the Republican destruction of unions' collective bargaining rights because the other side had demonstrated ZERO willingness to compromise, or would you do whatever you could to protect your middle class constituents' rights and well being?

Your effete penchant for self-satisfying "moderation" ensures weakness and failure, and that's exactly what you'd get by acquiescing to Governor Walker and the screwing over of the unions. Fortunately, the Democrats in Wisconsin know who and what they're fighting for.

"Doing give me this garbage that I'm trying to lump anyone together."

That's exactly what you did when you cast the whole dispute and all parties to it as "bickering." They're not "bickering". One side is fighting to DESTROY the rights of unions and the other side is fighting to PRESERVE them. Its an impasse between two opposed ideologies, with no magic centrist middle ground between collective bargaining rights and no collective bargaining rights that is somehow being stubbornly ignored by both parties for petty reasons.

You honestly couldn't be more obtuse in your reading of the situation. This isn't petty political gamesmanship. Its ideological coherency -- something you completely lack because you believe that your brand of centrism is inherently superior and is the solution to partisan impasses such as this. News flash: it ain't.

You may as well be whaling "can't we all just get along??" from the rooftops for all the good your weak-willed and indefensible position will do. How many times do you have to repeat this charade before you wise up?

Feb. 24 2011 05:51 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"Despite admitting that the unions have a legitimate, even existential grievance for which they're fighting, you dismiss their sincere and vocal opposition (and that of Wisconsin Democrats) to Governor Walker as "bickering". Why?"

I didn't say the fault was that of the unions. I thought I was pretty clear that I'm condemning Walker for his unwillingness to compromise, and the dem legislators for abandoning their posts...

Doing give me this garbage that I'm trying to lump anyone together. You can make your opinion known without putting B.S. that I didn't say into my mouth.

"Do you really think Wisconsinites elected Scott Walker because he was the "lesser of two evils"? Honestly?"

Yes I do. A whole hell of a lot of swing voters were so turned off by the dems' pushing too far to the left that they swung the other way, and left leaning indies didn't turn out because of the same reason. This spilled over into local and state races. This isn't conjecture, this has been shown in polling data at the macro level. I can't imagine it wouldn't have played a part here.

"Suggesting that the Democratic lawmakers are "scampering away from a fight" and "cowardly" is yet more shaming language which obscures the actual REASONS why they left the state -- to prevent the Republicans' radically anti-union plan from going into effect, thereby destroying the union's ability to collectively bargain."

Why exactly should I give a rats ass why these legislator did something that I think it NEVER the right thing to do? Stupid political games like this is something I've given all sides grief for, like the overuse of the filibuster on the right in D.C.

"The entire sentiment of your piece could be summed up as: "Sure, the Republicans want to destroy the unions, but the Democrats should be party to their destruction as well, otherwise they're cowards.""

How about you come back and argue with what I've actually said, instead of building rediculous straw men.

I think the unions have gone overboard with some of their tactics, but their position on this is the right one in my opinion. When you take office, you don't take an oath to represent your district when it is convenient for you, you represent your district, period. You can't do that from another state, and the fact that you're going to lose on some legislation is not an excuse to abandon your post - EVER.

If I left the state and didn't show up for work for days, I'd be fired. That should apply to legislators too.

Feb. 24 2011 04:21 PM
Jeremy from Omaha, Nebraska

Sol, you're being fundamentally dishonest in your selective use of language here, starting with your admonishing title: "As the Bickering Continues..."

Despite admitting that the unions have a legitimate, even existential grievance for which they're fighting, you dismiss their sincere and vocal opposition (and that of Wisconsin Democrats) to Governor Walker as "bickering". Why?

You're attempting to lump them in with the very guy who's trying to make them irrelevant, because that's your ongoing narrative -- they're ALL just bickering, petty, childish people who don't deserve political power because they're not sensible centrists moderates who can be above it all, as your are.

"Until we stop supporting lesser evils..."

Do you really think Wisconsinites elected Scott Walker because he was the "lesser of two evils"? Honestly?

You would do yourself and your nascent writing career a favor if you didn't base your opinions on crass solipsisms and discredited axioms. That's what HACKS do.

Suggesting that the Democratic lawmakers are "scampering away from a fight" and "cowardly" is yet more shaming language which obscures the actual REASONS why they left the state -- to prevent the Republicans' radically anti-union plan from going into effect, thereby destroying the union's ability to collectively bargain.

Here again, you miss the CRUX of the issue because you wish to frame it within your ongoing narrative -- that they're ALL letting us down and not doing their jobs. Wrong. The Democratic lawmakers took this drastic step because they're fighting for their constituents against a Governor who is UNWILLING to compromise, as he himself has stated.

The entire sentiment of your piece could be summed up as: "Sure, the Republicans want to destroy the unions, but the Democrats should be party to their destruction as well, otherwise they're cowards."

Feb. 24 2011 02:44 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

ok, I'll read it again....

Feb. 23 2011 08:47 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

You should actually read my post... did you only read the first few sentences and assume the rest?

How about you actually read what I wrote and try that again?

Feb. 23 2011 11:13 AM
Marcello from Brooklyn

That is your interpretation of things. But it sounds opportunistic: in order to support your "centrist position" you always try to portray the two parties as equally "moving away" from each other and therefore equally responsible for the country problems due to their unwillingness to compromise.
A more attentive interpretation of what is happening however, would show that is the GOP that has gone off to far-right-land dragging with it the whole barycenter of political discourse.
In Wisconsin for example compromise has been already on table for a while. Union leaders agreed to concessions requested by Mr. Walker: to pay nearly 6 percent of their wages for pension costs, up from nearly zero, and double payments for health insurance. But that is not enough for the new GOP and frankly, nothing will be short of their long-cherished plan to destroy unions for good.
While many unionized public workers contracts are definitely too excessive for the current economic climate, there is a difference between re-balancing their terms and waging this latest assault on the middle-class (on people earning between $ 40K and $ 50K per year). Many public employee "fancy" benefit packages have come as a substitute for pay increases over the course of many years.
Elections have definitely consequences but they are not a blank check.
Finally, while it is easy to be a centrist "in negative" (by always blasting what the other parties are or are not doing) I would be interested in understanding what a "centrist" proposal would look like on a problem such as this or many others that are crippling the country.

Feb. 23 2011 10:33 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Elections have consequences. Until we stop supporting lesser evils, and coalescing around common sense statesmen & women, this is what we're going to get more and more of, as both parties move farther and farther away from each other and the core of the American electorate.

Feb. 22 2011 02:44 PM

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