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Issue of the Week: Ignoring the Will of the People

Plus Hero of the Week

Jun. 15, 2011
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You know you've got much more than a public relations problem on your hands when you need the police to escort you from your workplace.

That's precisely what happened when Republicans passed the collective bargaining bill back in March amid historic protests at the state Capitol.

The Republicans' PR problems just keep getting worse as they try to ignore the voices of Wisconsin.

They've locked the doors to the Capitol, the people's house. Gov. Scott Walker admitted to wanting to plant troublemakers in the crowd of protesters to try to discredit them. They're planting Republicans as fake Democrats in the recall elections to try to delay the inevitable—losses at the polls. They've called the Legislature into an "extraordinary session" to pass the state budget, which allows them to suspend the normal parliamentary rules and stifle debate. They're using state resources to spy on protesters who use Facebook and Twitter to organize, a new-school twist on a tactic straight out of Stalin's Soviet Union. And the governor refuses to face the public, instead preferring to speak to groups of sympathizers (some members of the business and banking communities, and campaign donors, for example) or just the press corps.

But the Republicans' PR problem isn't just about their message. It's about democracy. The ruling party knows that its policies are deeply unpopular and only serve the interests of a small minority, the wealthy. So GOP leaders are shutting out the voices of dissent and debate and are operating from a bubble made up of partisan advisers and donors who tell them that they're doing the right thing.

But Republican leaders have hijacked state government and are destroying its institutions and a fundamental sense of fair play. We applaud the protesters who are risking their personal safety and well-being to stand up to elected officials who are unwilling to listen to them. This has been an ugly, divisive time in the state's history, but we are confident that the people of Wisconsin will take back our government from a small but powerful minority that is personally and financially benefiting from these changes.

Heroes of the Week

Advocates of Ozaukee Volunteers

Committed to ending domestic and sexual violence, Advocates of Ozaukee provides programs based on education, prevention and intervention to help those in need. The nonprofit operates a shelter for women and children seeking refuge from violent situations, and offers support groups for women and children, community education, legal advocacy, medical advocacy, independent living services and a 24-hour crisis line (262-284-6902).

Volunteers, so crucial to Advocates of Ozaukee's success in assisting victims of domestic violence, help with child care, support groups, the crisis phone line, transportation, organizing and picking up donations, office administrative work and professional services.

Readers who wish to get involved are urged to call Advocates of Ozaukee at 262-284-3577 or visit www.advocates-oz.org.


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