From Michael Walsh at The New York Post:
With the world's attention focused on Libya and the events in the Arab world, it's easy to forget that, back in Wisconsin, a group of 14 rogue state senators is still holding representative democracy hostage. Worse, the stunt has now morphed into an attack on the legitimacy of elections.
The 14 "fleebaggers" left the state in mid-February in order to stop an impending vote on Gov. Scott Walker's plan to defang the public-employee unions -- a vote they were certain to lose.
Now, their supporters are organizing recall petitions for the governor and eight targeted Republican senators, and claim to already have reached 15 percent of the number of signatures they need. Yet the whole effort, at least as far as the governor is concerned, is illegal. Under Wisconsin law, public officials aren't subject to recall until one year into the term for which they were elected. But the man leading the drive to recall Walker, ex-Rep. David Obey, doesn't care: He argues that Walker's desire to roll back collective-bargaining rights of public-employee unions is "abusive" and thus justifies ignoring the law.
Let's call this what it is: a campaign to nullify the 2010 election, by a sore-loser party that doesn't like the results.
The Democrats are trying to cast themselves as the heroes -- noble prisoners of conscience engaged in an act of civil disobedience by denying Walker a quorum so the vote can be held. But, like the sheriff played by Cleavon Little in "Blazing Saddles," the gun at their heads is being held in their own hands.
We've seen this act before, and from the same political party. Eight years ago, Democratic state legislators in Texas vamoosed twice, to Oklahoma and later to New Mexico, to avoid voting on a redistricting plan they didn't like. In the end, one returned, the quorum was established, the vote was held and they lost.
This time, however, the stakes are higher:
Whatever happens in Wisconsin will set a precedent for the rest of the nation, which is why Madison has become a critical battleground in a fight that neither side can afford to lose.
In a bid to protect one of its core constituencies -- public-sector unions -- the left has thrown a prime temper tantrum within and without the marble halls of the state capitol, trotting out its '60-era playbook of chants, signs and sickouts to create a media narrative that the cruel and heartless governor is trying to "destroy the unions."
But this fight is no longer simply about Walker's attempt to balance Wisconsin's wobbly budget, or even about whether public-employee unions ought to have the right to collective bargaining -- they shouldn't, and in fact they shouldn't even exist, as FDR himself warned.
It's now about whether we are to have an orderly democracy or legislative and executive anarchy, whether elections can be delegitimized and even overturned by the daily plebiscites of the polls, by the flouting of sacred oaths of office and by the trampling on the laws of the state.
It must stop. As President Obama liked to remind the GOP during the first two years of his administration, elections have consequences. From the Republican point of view, there was plenty not to like about Obama's program, including the stimulus and the health-care bill, but they voted anyway and took their lumps like grownups.
What the Democrats are doing in Wisconsin is more than just a disgrace. It's a danger to our republican form of government, a formula for permanent, no-holds-barred combat long after the polls have closed and the people have spoken.
Michael Walsh, a former associate editor of Time magazine, is the author (as "David Kahane") of "Rules for Radical Conservatives."