WI Senate Dem: What happened to negotiation?

Senate Democrats in Wisconsin continue to try to frame the narrative in the budget-repair bill as one of Republican obstinance.  Mark Miller spoke with CBS this morning from Wisconsin Democrat headquarters in, er, somewhere other than Wisconsin, and pleaded his case that all Wisconsin Democrats want is negotiation:

Speaking to “The Early Show” Monday from an undisclosed location outside Wisconsin, Mark Miller, one of 14 Democrats who left the state, said that Democrats and the public employee unions have put forth a compromise. “The problem is, is that the governor has to agree, and the governor has not done anything except insist that it has to be his way – all or nothing.

“He should have negotiated with the workers and he refused to do that. He tried to impose his will. And he unilaterally is stripping away workers’ rights.”

“The governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy, and in a democracy you negotiate,” Miller told anchor Erica Hill. “The unions, the public employees, have agreed to the economic demands. All they ask is that they be able to retain the workers’ rights. And we’re supporting them in that.”

When asked if moderate Republicans might be able to help reach an agreement, Miller said, “Absolutely. I think cooler heads need to prevail. Workers need to retain their rights. They’ve given up the economic demands that the governor feels he needs to balance the budget, but now let’s find a compromise . . . but that doesn’t include stripping workers’ rights. That really has nothing to do with balancing the budget.”

First, Wisconsin isn’t a democracy — it’s a representative democracy, and the difference isn’t just semantic.  If Wisconsin was a democracy, then every issue would be settled by a state-wide vote, and the legislature wouldn’t exist at all.  Voters elect representatives to form a legislature to debate and then decide these issues, usually based on the professed agendas of the candidates in the campaign season.

In this case, the issue was debated in the campaign, and voters chose Scott Walker as governor by a significant margin in part because he promised to bring spending and unions under control.  The unions made this point clear in their campaign advertising, and still lost not just the race but both chambers of the legislature.  Now that the legislature has been seated, the majority controls the agenda and can send bills to the floor — for the debate that Miller professes to want, followed by a vote.

That’s how representative democracy works.  If the Democrats want a compromise bill, then they need to show up in the legislature to find enough Republicans to vote down Walker’s proposal in favor of an alternative.  If the majority wants Walker’s bill, well, that’s the consequence of losing an election.  If that doesn’t represent the wishes of Wisconsin voters, Democrats can run in the next election on the promise to restore the closed shop and full collective bargaining rights to unions that have run the state for decades, and see how popular that makes them.

Miller doesn’t want negotiation.  He wants the minority to dictate outcomes and overturn the last election through petulance and obstinacy.  It’s about as anti-democratic as a state legislator can get.