This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets around the nation today to protest authoritarian measures by conservative state legislatures to force cuts while giving handouts to the rich and powerful.  Over 100 locations saw demonstrations on the steps of state capitols, banks, and other corporations.

This popular revolt was initially sparked by harsh anti-union measures in Wisconsin.   For instance, in the middle of the night on Friday, Wisconsin Republicans in the state House suddenly sprung the controversial anti-union bill onto the floor.  In a coordinated blitzkrieg, they took 19 seconds to pass the measure which didn’t even give enough time for many Democrats to vote. That is not what democracy looks like.

The bill not only destroys the collective bargaining rights of public unions, but it sanctions Gov. Walker to sell off state run power plants, appoints 37 political appointees, and allows unprecedented authority to shut down elements of health care program in the state without any legislative oversight.  In essence, the bill grants unheard of powers to the Republican governor.

This bill has now been sent to the Wisconsin Senate, who cannot rubber stamp the measure until at least one Democrat returns to the chamber to give it a quorum.

The New York Times reported, “Democrats who said that leaders had abruptly cut off debate and prevented more than a quarter of the legislators from casting votes.  Democrats said the early-morning vote showed that Republicans had little interest in negotiating. They “rushed a vote in seconds, cheating Democratic representatives of the opportunity to vote against this horrible legislation,” said the leader of the Assembly’s Democrats, Peter Barca. “Then they fled the chamber surrounded by armed law enforcement agents,” he said.

A fight over similar legislation in Indiana was stalemated as well, after 37 of 40 Democratic House members walked out, preventing a quorum. B. Patrick Bauer, the House minority leader, said from Urbana, Ill., that Democratic lawmakers would be staying in Illinois through the weekend, and beyond.”

The democratic process is supposed to have checks and balances to prevent the tyranny of the majority from taking over, but conservative Republicans are using their large majorities in many state legislatures to railroad far right laws through, things that collectively punish political opponents and have little regard for popular opinion.

That is tyranny.

Tyranny: [an] arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority. -Dictionary.com

In common usage, the word “tyrant” carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls. -wiki

The harsh authoritarian stabs at the heart of democracy have already triggered popular backlash.  Protests at the Wisconsin state capitol have been raging for two weeks, and even before today, had spread to dozens of cities across the United States.  The massive protests on Saturday, Feb. 26th saw people gather in all 50 states, even Republican corporate strongholds like Wyoming.

This is what democracy looks like

This is what democracy looks like

The largest were the Rally To Save The American Dream [more photos].  Tens of thousands turned out to not only stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin, but to support worker’s rights everywhere in the country, especially those hard fought liberties that came after years of struggle by unions in the past.  This revolt against tyrannical measures pushed by the Republicans for corporate profits received very little coverage on the main stream media over the course of the day.

USuncut rallies held on Sat., Feb 26th

USuncut also staged many dozens of rallies across the United States on Saturday to protest tax evasion by banks, multinational corporations, and the rich while workers are expected to accept draconian austerity cuts.  Bank of America.

the federal government gave Bank of America $2.3 billion. That money alone could almost completely cover the proposed $2.5 billion cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills and affects 34 million households. Bank of America is the largest bank and 5th largest corporation in the country, holding over $2.2 trillion in assets, and yet it pays less in taxes than the average American household, which made between $35,400 and $52,100 and had an effective tax rate of 14.2%. -USuncut

This is what Democracy looks like

This is what democracy looks like

The battle will intensify in Wisconsin on Sunday, where the police have been ordered to purge the capitol of protesters by Governor Walker.  The protesters have had a 24 hour presence there since this began, and the main question is whether the police will follow their orders and use force to breakup the peaceful demonstrators.

“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”

“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’ -Ryan Harvey, protester in Madison

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8 Responses to This Is What Democracy Looks Like

  1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1sarah jones
    February 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Great work, Ole. I watched live today on MoveOn and it was amazing.

  2. -8 Vote -1 Vote +1Nick
    February 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Unless there were about 170,000,000 people protesting today… this is what an oligarchy looks like…. or considering the largely union funded and entirely democratic party fled the state to prevent a democratic vote they considered “union busting” from even occuring this is also what despotism looks like… The real tyranny lies in the fact that these elected officials paid for largely in part by the unions are the one those very same unions get to negotiate with after elections are over… If you think that is democracy in action.. then the American Dream (the real one that isn’t being sponsored by anyone) might be dead to you….

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 26, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      Nick, no offense, but you really need to look up the definition of “The American Dream”.

  3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1John Hope
    February 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Tyrants everywhere beware, the people have had enough . All these power elites have had their day and in the US and in Europe we will depose them and the corporations whose slaves we have all become will be destroyed .

  4. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1JON SISK
    February 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE. 19 DEMOCRATS LEAVE THE STATE SO THERE ISN’T THE MINIMUM AMOUNT FOR A QUORUM

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      February 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      Desperate times call for desperate measures. There is a reason why groups boycott democratic elections when their very presence would legitimize a regime using tyranny of the majority.

  5. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve
    February 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Union thuggery is what it is!

  6. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Tess Elliott
    February 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Love this! If corporations are really people, then why aren’t they paying the almost 30% taxes that most middle class single people pay? The GOP wants to give them everything, & destroy unions, even though corporations have helped ruin the economy outsourcing everything.