Yesterday a good friend who lives in southeastern Wisconsin sent me an email telling me how embarrassed she is to be from Wisconsin. The recent protests and the pathetic escape of the Senate Democrats to the nearby People’s Republic of Illinois have both angered and shamed my friend Margaret. She simply cannot believe that while she and her neighbors have been financially crippled over the past two years, these supposed public servants continue to grow fat while feeling no ill effects of the Obama recession. No longer basking in the glow of the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl victory, my friends on the other side of the border are positively beside themselves at the insane behavior of their public servants.
Another friend could only shake his head in disbelief. He wondered why Governor Walker’s “budget repair bill” has triggered so many clearly un-civil protests in the state capitol. As an accountant he understands that the Wisconsin Constitution requires a balanced budget and that union concessions would prevent massive layoffs. With the economy in shambles, isn’t it better to make a few concessions than sacrifice several thousand jobs? “It just kills me that we are expected to make so many sacrifices to pay for these people who don’t care one bit about us,” he added.
This morning I spoke with a co-worker named Jason who hails from the Dairy State. He said that “Walker should do like Reagan did with the air traffic controllers and fire their a**es!” His anger was focused on the Madison and Milwaukee public school teachers who called in sick to attend the protests at the capitol which caused the cancellation of classes in their districts. Wisconsin’s public school teachers are well compensated and receive lavish health and retirement packages that far outpace what similarly educated citizens could earn in the highly competitive private sector, a point not lost on Jason, who struggles to make do on half that amount while buckling under the weight of an oppressive property tax bill.
The general consensus among those people I spoke with is that they fully support Scott Walker and the Republican legislature and they appreciate their willingness to stand up to the public sector unions and endure the rhetoric and angry crowds that have assembled in Madison. To a person, there was no sympathy for the public school teachers who they regard as overpaid and unproductive. Unlike Mr. Obama, who is not familiar with the proposed legislation, the Wisconsin residents whom I talked with know that the proposed “budget repair bill” does not affect either police or firefighters, nor do they bear any animosity towards those public servants.
The appearance of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and fellow agitator Jesse Jackson in Madison on Friday merely served to prove to my friends and co-workers that Governor Walker and the Republican leadership were doing the right thing for the state and its overburdened taxpayers. My friend Bruce said: “If Rev. Jackson and that union thug Trumka are going to fire up the crowd, they must be scared.” Jason added: “Jack-ass Jesse Jackson? That proves we’re right. I just hope Walker doesn’t cave.”
There has been talk of veiled threats against Governor Walker, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and other members of the Republican leadership. This has elicited a strong sense of outrage in the wake of Mr. Obama’s post-Tucson call for civility. Signs depicting Scott Walker as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and the recently deposed Egyptian President Mubarak were prominently on display during the protests as the angry mob paid no attention to President Obama’s political dictate. Perhaps Mr. Obama’s quick embrace of the union mob in Madison suggested that civil discourse is not meant to apply to movements which are given the White House seal of approval.
My friend Rodney who is a fellow Tea Partier from Kenosha was outraged that Mr. Obama was sticking his nose into a Wisconsin matter and said: “I heard OFA and the White House are sending bus loads of union thugs from all over the country to Madison for this ******* protest. That can’t be legal, can it?” All I could say is that if the U.S. Constitution and court orders can be ignored by the current administration, why would they be concerned with interfering in a Wisconsin budget issue any more than they were concerned about border security in Arizona?
The actions of the 14 Democrat members of Wisconsin’s Senate didn’t elicit any particular anger on the part of my friends and associates. It seems as though the antics of these elected buffoons merely added a bit of much needed comic relief to a tense situation. No one seems to think that the delay caused by the frantic flight of the 14 fools to Illinois was a matter for concern.
For my friends in Wisconsin I can offer a bit of comfort during these embarrassing days: no matter how bad things get, at least you don’t live in Illinois.