Ezra Klein, on last night’s events in Wisconsin:
It seems to me that the system worked. Democrats were able to slow the process down and convince both voters in Wisconsin and the national media that there was something beyond business as usual happening in Madison. National and state polls show they were successful in that effort. Walker and the Senate Republicans ignored the Democrats’ attempts at compromise and ignored the public turning against them and decided to pass the legislation anyway.
That was their prerogative, and now it’s up to the voters to decide whether to recall the eight Senate Republicans who are eligible for judgment this year, and to defeat Walker and the other Republicans in a year or two, when they become vulnerable to a recall election. That’s how representative democracy, for better or worse, works. The representatives can make unpopular decisions, but the voters can punish them for it.
I’ve been getting a lot of angry emails from conservatives who are saying: How dare those Wisconsin Democrats and labor thugs pursue the recall of Republicans, given that they were legitimately elected by Wisconsin voters to get the state’s fiscal house in order! It doesn’t seem to matter to these good people that poll after poll after poll shows that those very same voters wanted Scott Walker and state senate Republicans to compromise with labor and Dems, or that big majorities oppose the rollback of public employee bargaining rights.
So, yes, Walker and the Republicans were elected to do what they think, or claim to think, is the right thing for the state. They are forging ahead with their agenda even though Wisconsinites are voicing strong opposition to it. Fine. The very same democratic system that allows them to do this also provides for voters to declare buyer’s remorse and toss them out of office before their terms are up.
If what Walker and Republicans did is a sufficient turnoff to voters that the required number sign on for recall elections, and if those voters then replace these Republicans with Democrats, it will have been every bit as democratic as their election in the first place. In Wisconsin, recalls are democratic.