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Posted at 3:47 PM ET, 02/18/2011

Fleeing vs. filibustering vs. 60-vote requirements

By Ezra Klein

Good point by Matt Yglesias:

[W]hat’s happening in Wisconsin is more like a “classic” filibuster than a modern-style routine supermajority. The Democratic caucus of the State Senate can’t hold out forever, nor can they pull this every time Governor Walker proposes a bill they don’t like. What they can do is slow things down and try to see if public opinion swings around to their side.

The flight of Wisconsin's Democrats is a stunt -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's an attempt to dramatize the depth of their opposition, throw some sand in the gears of the process and see whether a couple of days of protests and media coverage can turn the tide on this one. But if it fails, I don't think they should hang out in Illinois till the next election. These are the governor and the legislators that the people of Wisconsin voted into office. If the people of Wisconsin decide they made a mistake, well, 2012 isn't that far off.

And that's how things should work, I think. As it happens, I quite like the idea of extended debate. It makes much more sense than having to hide out in Illinois. But either way, minorities that feel extremely strongly about a particular piece of legislation should be able to slow things down and try to convince people that they're right. But doing so should be difficult and rare, and if they fail in their effort to peel off members of the majority, they should lose and seek recourse in the next election. When the voters elect a new majority, they should get what they asked for.

By Ezra Klein  | February 18, 2011; 3:47 PM ET
 
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Next: What do Virginia, Washington and Texas tell us about public-employee unions?

Comments

The silver lining in all of this is that the Wisconsin unionists (and those supporting them) are being perceived as childish and greedy. The perception helps to reinforce "the Arrogance of Democrats" in the public mind and to solidify rejection of labor unions.

One possible result is a proposal for a national right-to-work statute. While such a statute is unlikely to pass the Senate before January of 2013, its proposal increases the credibility of the patriotic Representatives attempting to cure the ills inflicted by burdensome labor unions.

By the way, http://www.unionrefund.org/ is available to help union members whose dues were improperly used to support partisan campaign efforts. Of course, every union has to remember to be politically neutral and to focus only on issues...

Posted by: rmgregory | February 18, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"childish and greedy"

What rubbish. It's clearly becoming a story, as it should be, of working people being imposed upon by a bunch of out-of-control GOPers.

And as for heading back to Wisconsin, I'd say to them, stay in Chicago for a while till we win this one. You're more than welcome!

Posted by: leoklein | February 18, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"...minorities that feel extremely strongly about a particular piece of legislation should be able to slow things down and try to convince people that they're right. But doing so should be difficult and rare..."

You mean like Senate filibusters?

Posted by: stonedone | February 18, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Why does a candidate who gets 51% support have the moral justification to do whatever it wants? Why does 51% constitute "the people".

Has it ever occured to you that "the people" may be (and usually are) wrong?

Posted by: quarkgluonsoup | February 18, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I believe the time allows a broader audience to see through the haze of the issue. As you posted previously, this budget gap was created by the governor pushing tax breaks and now is using this extreme method to "solve" the problem he created - yet claiming that this problem is essentially pre-existing.

Lastly, I am surprised it is constitutional to void a contract through legislative action?

Posted by: sailor0245 | February 18, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"When the voters elect a new majority, they should get what they asked for."

Yes, it's too bad President Obama wasn't given the same courtesy.

Posted by: kindness1 | February 18, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

This is not a good point at all, even if the leftists lap it up.

The filibuster is part of Senate Rules.

Quorum denial is unconstitutional.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

The next liberal who spouts this nonsense should please read this passage and comprehend it.


http://nxt.legis.state.wi.us/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates&fn=default.htm&d=wiscon&jd=top


Article IV, §7
Organization of legislature; quorum; compulsory attendance. Section 7. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 18, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

@stonedone:

No exactly unlike Senate filibusters. They are neither rare nor in the interest of extending debate.

Posted by: will12 | February 18, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide."

Sounds to me like the Democrats can say "come on down to Rockford or face the music."

Posted by: crosspalms | February 18, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Given the fact that most people have been getting pink slips and pay cuts for the last two years they look like a bunch of babies.

Posted by: peterg73 | February 18, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice if there were a finite number of "delay chips" that could be used each session, to ensure that there were the requisite number of days available to carry on the business of legislating.

Posted by: staticvars | February 18, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

When all those teachers and government workers see the hundreds of dollars that had been taken by unions returned to their paychecks and that all their employee rights are protected by the regulatory framework they will re-elect Walker and the Republicans.

Posted by: cprferry | February 19, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

A rare filibuster is good for democracy. A common filibuster is poison.

Posted by: theamazingjex | February 19, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The Wisconsin legislators were elected to serve.If they don't show up they should be impeached.Fillibuster is an acceptable means of minority protest. Not doing your duty is not.Childish.Why are the unions losing ground? Because of stunts like this and typically using intimidation and name calling rather than figuring out how to win in a debate of ideas and practicality. Folks it is not working. Read the voter's lips.

Posted by: marden08 | February 19, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

If the Wisconsin legislators don't show up for work, they should be impeached. fillibuster is an acceptable means of minority protest. Childish grandstanding is not. The unions wonder why they are losing in this country. It is because they resort exclusively to name calling vote buying,and intimidation to achieve their main objective of power rather than trying to prevail on merit and the strength of their ideas to advance the conditions of their members.Read the voters lips.

Posted by: marden08 | February 19, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

If the Wisconsin legislators don't show up for work, they should be impeached. fillibuster is an acceptable means of minority protest. Childish grandstanding is not. The unions wonder why they are losing in this country. It is because they resort exclusively to name calling vote buying,and intimidation to achieve their main objective of power rather than trying to prevail on merit and the strength of their ideas to advance the conditions of their members.Read the voters lips.

Posted by: marden08 | February 19, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The comparison of the Wisconsin legislators to US Senate Filibuster is entirely accurate. This is how a filibuster *should* work. When the issue is important, shut down the process and be public about it until it is resolved. Unlike the Senate, we know who the legislators are who are doing this.
.
Whether you support them or not, and I do, that is called accountability and they will have it.
.
The Filibuster should be extreme and painful, not a daily tactic.

Posted by: rpixley220 | February 22, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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