As most of you know, the Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate didn't like a proposed bill to strip public sector unions of the right to collectively bargain. However, they were a minority, so they fled the state. The Republicans hold the majority, but Wisconsin state law requires all budget-related votes pass with a 2/3 majority, and the Republicans don't quite hold that many seats. So the Democrats, rather than lose that vote, decided to effectively shut down the government.
But as noted, the 2/3 majority is only for budget-related issues. Everything else is simple majority -- and the Republicans have that in spades.
So the Democrats' flight doesn't necessarily mean "party's over." It could mean "party on, dudes!" It could be Spring Break in February for conservative cheeseheads.
It's time the Wisconsin GOP started going hog wild here on non-budget issues. Any conservative worth his or her salt ought to have a whole wish list of laws they'd like passed or repealed, and now is the perfect time to start trotting them out.
Legalizing concealed-carry of weapons? Go for it.
Making Wisconsin a "right-to-work" state? As you wish.
Put major restrictions on abortion? Who's gonna stop you?
Charter schools? Right on.
Merit pay for teachers, coupled with measurable testing benchmarks? Why not?
Voter ID? Absolutely!
Copy Arizona's immigration law? Bring it on!
Make voter fraud and voter registration fraud capital offenses? Bully for you!
Dispose of most of the tedious and anti-competitive licensing requirements for most professions? About damned time!
Now, I don't agree with all these ideas, but they do have one unifying theme: they tend to make Democrats absolutely froth at the mouth and totally lose their shit.
The Democrats have precipitated a major crisis in Wisconsin, but as someone once said, "never let a crisis go to waste." There's an old bogus aphorism that the Chinese word for "crisis" is made from the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity." But while the origin is discredited, it's true that in crises are often opportunities.
And in Wisconsin, the Republicans have an opportunity to literally go to town with non-budget issues that the Democrats would fight tooth and nail -- if they weren't shacked up out of state. Just the thought of those Democrats having to watch their Republican colleagues pass piece after piece after piece of their wish list -- even knowing that very few of them would ever make it into law -- would eat them alive.
Plus, the Republicans in the State Senate don't have much else to do right now, as they can't work on budget matters, so they might as well have some fun.
As they say, elections have consequences. So do derelictions of duty.