How will this stalemate in Madison end?
If nobody blinks, how long will this Walker versus Democrats/union situation continue? Nobody seems to have an answer, or a solution to this stalemate.
A couple of observations.
By fleeing the state, the Senate Democrats have not done the state, or the political process, any favors. They may appear as heroes to some, but to halt the public's business and jeopardize the state's finances is not just some harmless procedure. It sets a poor precedent and is unethical.
Republicans and Walker may have been a bit too quick in attempting to pass the budget repair bill, but let's put a little historical perspective on all of this. Two years ago, it was the Democrats who passed a budget-repair bill on a party-line vote. The bill raised taxes by more than $1 billion.
There were no public hearings and the bill passed the day after it was introduced -- so much for input from the opponents.
Republicans were the ones who were mightily upset. However, they didn't race to Illinois. Instead they voted in a losing cause and stayed in Madison. From there, they complained long and loud about the way they were treated. They took the issue into the next election and used it as a spring board to gain control of the Capitol.
Both sides have now put themselves in a position where there is little room for compromise. Not that the Republicans have to compromise, but if they want to get the Democratic senators back to Madison they may be forced to make some concession -- even if it's a minor one -- so the Democratic senators can save face.
Maybe a couple of the collective bargaining issues will have to be debated at a later date, after all, the Republicans still have the votes for almost the next two years. The other alternative is that Senate Democrats take their lumps, fulfill their obligations, and try to take the arguments to the next election. That's generally how things work in a democracy.
What the Democrats are doing creates a precarious environment for the future of state government. What happens in future government standoffs? Will the Republicans be the next to bolt if they don't get their way? You have to believe it will become the norm if it stops the political process.
The Democrats should return the Madison.
Gov. Walker should offer some sort of olive branch, to help get the train back on the track.