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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Democrats in Wisconsin and Indiana Abuse the Democratic Process

Last week Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate went AWOL to prevent a vote on a bill that they saw as anti-union. Without the Democrats’ presence, the vote could not take place because the 19 Senate Republicans would be one short of the 20 Senators needed for a quorum.

Wisconsin state police were trying to find the missing legislators, but their jurisdiction ends at the state line, and the missing Democrats reportedly had fled to Illinois, just out of reach of the Wisconsin police.

This week in Indianapolis, 38 of the 40 Indiana House Democrats were missing in action. The two who remained were there to make and second any motion on procedural actions the Democrats might want to make. However, with 38 Democrats missing, the House was left with only 58 representatives present, far short of the 67 needed for a quorum and a vote on a right to work bill which is opposed by the unions. Just as in Wisconsin, the possibility of dispatching state police to bring the lawmakers back to the capital has been raised; however, again just like in Wisconsin, the missing Democrats are thought to have fled the state.

So is this the way our government now operates? If one side doesn’t like a bill, it simply refuses to show up for the vote, preventing the vote altogether? I was always under the impression that the voters got to decide the issues by electing representatives to do just that: to represent us. The side that won the election got to win on the issues.

Apparently, that’s no longer the case. Now the side that loses the election simply obstructs the process by fleeing the state like fugitives from the law rather than staying and doing their jobs as lawmakers.

No matter which side of the specific issues we support, this affront to the democratic process should be concerning to all.

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