Posts Tagged ‘democracy’
The Wisconsin State Senate has authorized the arrest of the Wisconsin 14, who are self-exiled from their home state to prevent the destruction of labor unions in the state and across the country. Whatever one thinks of unions or these legislators, the right to withhold participation in government is a fundamental right of a democracy.
But the Republican Party, along with the Tea Party and their corporate supporters, have now criminalized that right. If any of the Democratic holdouts return, they will be arrested and become perhaps the first overt political prisoners of modern-day America.
And yet, the national Democratic Party has stayed silent. Now that Ohio has fallen into red hands, it will lose the presidential election in 2016, if not earlier. Soon, it will be the national legislators’ turn to be threatened with arrest. But do they care? Perhaps they will have officially switched parties by then.
The irony overflows. If government is an evil, then shut it down. Instead, Republican and Tea Party have chosen to resort to anything imaginable, including locking up political opponents, to keep the government running. Talk about Big Brother–it’s more like Big Brother in Jail.
In case you missed it, political opponents can now be made into political prisoners. Welcome to Fascist USA.
The Ohio state senate has voted to ban strikes by public workers and to establish penalties for those who walk out. Unionized workers can negotiate wages, hours, and certain work conditions, but not health care, sick time, or pension benefits. The bill passed despite the opposition of six Republicans. The bill is not yet law, but that is just a formality: the state house is even more heavily Republican, and the GOP governor is a strong advocate of the bill. Ohio has officially fallen into the red column for the foreseeable future.
As I explained in my previous blog, this fight is labor’s last stand, yet unions have not pulled out all their stops. And the national Democratic Party has practically stood down.
Also today came news that the self-exiled state senators from Wisconsin may be forced to return. The future is very grim.
I can’t really add to what Mr. Broun said, so just read this.
Brave New Foundation reports that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a top subordinate to Gen. Petraeus in Afghanistan, sought to unleash psychological operations against U.S. senators and congresspeople visiting Afghanistan. The aim was to secure more funds and troops for the war.
“He and his staff reportedly sought psy-ops experts’ help to ‘secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge,’ and wanted ‘pressure points’ to ‘leverage’ when pushing visiting legislators for funds. When they balked, a Caldwell spokesperson shouted, ‘It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!'”
See the video produced by the advocacy group here.
Law enforcement is looking for state senators in Wisconsin. Not because of indictments or charges–the targets in question are not accused on any crimes–but because the governor and Republican Party are intent on dismantling public unions, and they need the votes of at least one Democrat to pass their bills. In the words of Paul Ryan (not exactly a friend of the left), “Cairo has moved to Madison”.
Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites have amassed at the capitol in protest, and Democratic senators have fled the state. The drama sounds more like a police state than the model democracy that many Americans see their government represent.
Labor unions have been instrumental in mass revolutions current sweeping across the Middle East, leading successful efforts in the cathartic overthrows of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt after decades of dictatorships. While Tunisians and Egyptians have gained a measure of freedom, Americans in the Midwestern state face the prospect of seeing their unions castrated, as public employees can no longer bargain collectively under the Republican bills.
Americans already lack the right to strike like the Egyptians did, as national labor laws forbid “coercive secondary actions”. If you pick strawberries for a farmer, you cannot strike to force Wal-Mart to pay higher prices for the fruits. If you work for an Oregonian logging company, you cannot strike to force your president to resign. (Teachers may have walked off the job in Wisconsin, but their union cannot declare or organize a strike without incurring massive financial damages.)
It is difficult to reconcile what Governor Walker and his party is doing with the attempts of the same party to invade other countries in “nation-building” efforts, ostensibly to spread democracy. Yet in some ways, North Africa seems to serve as a better current example than the land of the free.