Well, Republicans may be running amok in Washington and in many of our states, slashing and burning everything in sight, including collective bargaining rights, but I bring you good news, America: We still live in a democracy! Can I get an amen?
Remember those stiff-necked, hard-headed Republicans in Wisconsin who were dead set on stripping collective bargaining rights from its public sector unions come hell or high water? Well, both hell and high water have rolled into Wisconsin. They have come in the form of signatures: thousands upon thousands of signatures gathered by steely-eyed, determined union activists who want very much to show the state’s Republicans what happens when politicians mess with unions’ bargaining rights.
The purpose of these signatures is to recall Republicans. That is, force them to run for re-election early, like this coming November, to see if they’re still as popular as they were when they first won election. Odds are, they’re not. And polls taken in the last couple of months would seem to bear this out. And so do the signatures affixed to the petitions now crisscrossing the state of Wisconsin.
Earlier this month, petitions were submitted by activists to recall two of the state’s senators. Then, earlier this week, two more petitions were filed with the Government Accountability Board (GAB). One was submitted on Monday to recall Senator Luther Olsen and another on Tuesday to recall Senator Shelia Harsdorf.
One of the encouraging things to come out of this drama is the ease in which the thousands of signatures have been obtained. People are eager to sign their names: Democrats, Independents, and even registered Republicans. In each of the petition drives for recall, more than enough signatures have been obtained, and weeks ahead of the deadline.
And they’re not finished with the petitions yet. Not by a long shot.
Activists are planning to file four more petitions against GOP senators between now and May 2.
Right now the Wisconsin GOP controls the state senate by a slim margin of 19 – 14. If the signatures are certified by GAB, Democrats will have an opportunity to gain control of the senate in a recall election.
Two challengers have already indicated they will run against the first two GOP senators and there are others waiting in the wings to run against additional recalled GOP senators.
Now aren’t you thankful we still live in a democracy? Despite all the junk that Republicans are throwing at us right now: the stripping away of bargaining rights, the attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the idolizing of corporations and the demonizing of the middle class — despite all that junk, we still live in a democracy. Hallelujah!
The message is clear: the American voter, despite the efforts of the Republican party to silence it, still has a powerful voice. But that voice is only powerful when we make it heard, just as they’re doing in Wisconsin and in other states. I’m hopeful that we will take a cue from our brothers and sisters in the Rust Belt, stand together in solidarity, and do whatever is necessary to let politicians know — of any party — that there are consequences to making bad decisions; and there is a price to be paid for trashing middle class working men and women.
Our hats off to the working people of Wisconsin, may their tribe increase.