Thousands upon thousands of ordinary people are toppling dictators and fascist leaders across the Middle East in a democratic pageant that is very reminiscent of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block in the 1980's. And while Republicans in America are always quick to bloviate over the fall of communism, a feat they somehow credit to Reagan, they are much less eager to embrace this new round of democratic turbulence.
Republicans, you see, just can't get too comfortable with the notion of poor folks putting their wealthy oligarch masters on the run.
It's no secret that the conservative element of the Republican Party, an element that sadly includes most of the party, hates unions. Their philosophical ancestors, the 19th century robber barrons, fought the rise of unions, fair wages, and even public schooling (which they saw as a sneaky way to drain the labor pool of child factory workers), and they regard today's struggling unions as an unnecessary evil that FDR foisted upon American business.
Wisconsin has the rotten luck to have a new Republican governor coupled with a Republican majority in the state legislature. Wisconsin has a fairly liberal history, and even when it elected Repbulicans in the past, they weren't the ignorant kind. Robert M. "Fighting Bob" LaFollette leaps to mind - now there was a Republican (later a Progressive) of whom we all could be proud!
But Wisconsin's new governor, Scott Walker, definitely ain't no Bob LaFollette. Instead of fighting for the rights of the little guys, Walker, a heartless teabagger, has made it his mission in life "help" the citizens of Wisconsin by killing unions. He is currently after the union that represents state employees - in the name of balancing the budget. He is proposing legislation that would basically eliminate collective bargaining rights for all state employees.
Wisconsin public employees, including the state's school teachers, have been descending on the capitol building in Madison by the tens of thousands in scenes that are eerily reminescent of Cairo just a couple of weeks ago. Apparently some of the state's police have responded to the growing crisis by going to the capitol and handing out food to the demonstrators.
Walker, the first governor of Wisconsin not to have a college degree in more than sixty years, is now threatening to call out the state's national guard to help keep state services running during his power grab.
Even though the legislature is currently under Republican control, state senate Democrats apparently got on a bus and went to Illinois as a group in order to hamstring parliamentary procedure in their chamber. No votes can be held as long as they remain AWOL. No word yet on whether the governor will invade Illinois with his national guard in an effort to bring the democratic freedom fighters home.
Something makes me think that if Fighting Bob LaFollette was still around, he would have been driving that bus!
Stay strong, Wisconsin!