The more I hear about what is going on in Wisconsin, the more confused I get about what the term popular sovereignty really means. To most of us, popular sovereignty captures the idea that those who govern do so at the behest of those who are being governed. In other words, when the people speak, those who are elected are duty bound to try to meet those preferences.
That is not the case today in most political environments. Today, most politicians seem much more comfortable getting cozy with special interests and those who contribute the most to their campaigns. After all, it seems that incumbency is more important than serving the state or nation. Trust me, this is not a Republican or Democrat thing, this is a politics-as-usual thing.
Back to Wisconsin.
The people of Wisconsin, in the last election, moved with great voice to bring Republicans into the state house, senate and governor’s mansion. The people, tired of business as usual, wanted real change—a movement back to fiscal responsibility and a restructuring of government that would establish a sustainable path for the future.
The legislature and governor are attempting to meet the preferences of the people, which is exactly what popular sovereignty is about. However, we see the Democrats, who are clearly more interested in supporting special interests (the legal money laundering machine known as public sector unions), abandoning their elected duties rather than sit in the well and debate issues like adults. No, they have to cut and run, seeking refuge from those big mean Republicans, those nasty, ignorant people who want government to do what they ask to be done.
As things unfold in Wisconsin—and we really do not know how things are going to turn out—similar conditions are developing right here in Iowa. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to facilitate a legislative forum for some of the citizens of the Siouxland. We had five legislators on the panel—all Republican, with three members of the house and two senators present.
The overflow crowd wrote down questions that were given to me to ask of the panel. The stark difference between the progress being made in the Iowa House and the absolute obstruction going on in the Iowa Senate could not be more revealing. It appears that the results of the last election have not penetrated the hallowed halls of the Iowa Senate, or certainly not the office space of the majority leader.
This single individual is holding Iowa hostage. The majority leader and his party are more interested in preserving an environment of special treatment for special interests, government expansion, higher taxes, government picking economic winners and losers, a corrupt and unaccountable education establishment and perpetuation of government structures that are leading to insolvency, are clearly more interested in maintaining a power base than in doing what is best for all Iowans. This obstructionist behavior is not going unnoticed. The election season looming on the horizon for next year might be catastrophic for those who cling to the D behind their names on the ballot.
What we are seeing in Wisconsin, and to some degree in Iowa, is nothing more than the people being told they do not matter, only special interests matter. Democrats, by abandoning their duties or by obstruction, are stifling the voice of the people in a most cynical manner. To continue to do what is best for special interests instead of what is best for the people will more than likely have catastrophic consequences for those more interested in self-serving power than in service to the people.
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