02.28.11

The Trouble With Wisconsin

It’s been nearly two weeks since 14 Democrats fled from Wisconsin to avoid voting on a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining. As Meghan McCain argues, no matter what you believe about unions, the behavior of these politicians is unacceptable.

What’s happening in Wisconsin? The state in the Midwest is looking more like the Wild, Wild West.  

All the commotion is over a bill that the Republican-controlled state senate introduced that some have called anti-union. It would eliminate collective bargaining and cap teacher salaries at $89,000. That might not seem like a lot of money, but the unions have already cost the state millions by making it impossible to fire bad teachers. As the bill came up for a vote, 14 Democrat state senators fled from Wisconsin and went into hiding in Illinois. The last time I checked, you can't just leave your job when the going gets tough. If the rest of us did that, we'd be fired. 

President Obama only added fuel to the fire when he said Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts were "an assault to unions." It's highly unusual for the president to get involved in state politics like this. Now there are thousands of teachers storming the streets. California workers even held their own march in Sacramento to show solidarity. 

Why the voters of Wisconsin have found this acceptable is baffling.

Yes, this is a tricky and complicated issue. That's why we elect politicians to represent us, so that they can vote and reach a resolution. When they go missing, the result is chaos. Our democracy falls apart. America cannot function if we are a society fueled by riots. The Tea Party started the tradition last summer when they took to the streets in record numbers to protest the spending going on in Washington and at the same time creating a distinct divide within the Republican Party. If our elected officials who are paid to result disputes can't face each other, how can neighbors or coworkers who disagree? 

What is going on in Wisconsin shouldn’t be tolerated. The politicians are acting spineless. Why the voters of Wisconsin have found this acceptable or why the mainstream media isn’t holding these politicians' feet to the fire is baffling. Should the president go into hiding in his bunker when he doesn’t want to sign something into law? Governors of other states have expressed their anger over this ridiculous behavior. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called Democratic legislators “cowardly and irresponsible”.  

We live in difficult times and we don’t need leaders who can’t hack the job they have been hired to do. The economic crisis that is being faced is a scary one, and the last thing that could possibly make the situation any easier is lawmakers simply choosing to get going when the times get tough. Everyone is losing in Wisconsin—the economy, the teachers union, but especially the voters of Wisconsin. Instead of having real leadership to help them through this crisis, their elected officials have instead chosen to flee in the face of trouble. It’s a new level of pathetic behavior and it’s disappointing no matter what side of the aisle your political beliefs reside on.  

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site mccainblogette.com. Her new book, Dirty Sexy Politics, was published in August.