The true test of a representative democracy

A lot of emotional rhetoric can often hide the forest. With elected representatives fleeing states as a means of getting their way, the implications of their actions may not be fully aired. Captain Ed describes The real threat to democracy in Wisconsin. It is the crucial issue even more important than the budget politics that instigated it.

The true test of a representative democracy comes not in an election, but in the aftermath of an election. If the losing party or parties recognize their loss and continue to participate in the process of governance, then representative democracy works. When the losing side refuses to participate and boycotts governance, especially in such a manner that vital legislative work is obstructed, then representative democracy itself is threatened.

Each legislative body establishes parliamentary rules that describe how it will conduct business. There are established ways to do things that are agreed upon by all parties. The filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate and the debates about whether or not to modify it that have been in the news in recent years is an example of how representatives in a republic set rules for their deliberations.

The threat, the danger to the republic, is when a group that loses an election decides to go outside of the accepted rules in order to push its way.

The fleeing Democrats have essentially stolen the will of the public and their right to self-governance. Wisconsin voters elected Republicans to majorities in both chambers and Walker as their executive by convincing margins. The minority in a representative democracy has a right to be heard, but does not have the right to stop the process of governance by shutting down the legislature. In essence, those state senators who went on the lam have attempted to overturn the last election through unprecedented and illegal obstruction and dereliction of duty. They have demonstrated the haughty arrogance of those who refuse to accept their role as public servants and instead make themselves into autocrats.

In some respects, this sort of bypassing the established process is why the Republicans won such a majority in the last election. It is also in the essence of the debate about public employee unions because the existence of mandatory unions in that sector create feedback mechanisms that bypass normal governance control methods. The result of that feedback became a campaign issue. The results of that campaign are starting to bear fruit and those who would short circuit the accepted political mechanisms should be very very careful about the territory wherein they tread.

Comments are closed.