By Kendal Conner
As protests spark like wildfire across the Middle East, the United States is quickly becoming no stranger to a similar sight on its own streets.
Since Nov. 17, labor union protests upwards of thousands of people strong have broken out at the state capitol of Wisconsin.
The effects of these Wisconsin protests are continuing to create a similar wildfire backlash, spreading to a handful of other states.
The protests began over a prospective vote on a proposed bill by Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Before the vote occurred, Democratic state senators in Wisconsin all fled the state in order to postpone its passing in the Senate.
The labor union uproar came from the fact that in the bill Walker calls for pay cuts for public workers and the elimination of collective bargaining rights.
Although the debate over the proposed bill extends far beyond the current location of Democratic state senators, many problems have stemmed from their actions.
Their strategy to postpone the vote is one that cannot be overlooked, lest they inadvertently set an undesirable precedent in state senates.
At the core of all the controversy, it is important to remember the basic facts.
As citizens of a democracy, we have the privilege to vote into office the men and women we feel will best represent our own needs and concerns. We can take confidence in knowing that the representatives elected into office are there because enough people believed strongly in their ability to represent the peoples’ voices.
Yet, what happens when that voice is taken from them?
Even though the actions proposed by Walker may be against the belief of some, at least he is working to represent the people who voted him into office by striving to fulfill his campaign promises.
Again, this is not a bash on those fighting against the proposed bill. Another privilege of living in a democratic society is that we have the right to stand up for what we believe. Instead, I simply want to take a look at the role of state representatives.
I am sure the state senators who oppose Walker’s bill believe they are in fact representing the people. The truth is, though, they are not doing any justice to representing anyone in Wisconsin when they are not even in the state themselves.
How can a representative’s voice be heard from across the state border?
The fact is that no matter what the controversy or debate is, the people of Wisconsin voted their state senators into office for the purpose of representing them in the passing of legislature. That is their job.
So, when those senators do not show up to their workplace, such as with any other profession, they are not doing their job.
Furthermore, the actions of the senators have a much broader affect than simply on them and their staffs.
The senators’ decisions are negatively affecting the people for whom they believe they are fighting.
The pro-union protesters continually gave up their days and nights. Schools have closed because too many teachers left to be at the protests. Some protesters have given up their jobs to make their voices heard at the state capitol — the exact purpose for which they elected the senators.
So, even though the people have every right to protest for their rights, the reality is that by staying in exile the Democratic senators are placing all the burden of the cause on the people for whom they promised to represent in governmental fights.
Putting all concerns of the proposed bill aside, the question that must be asked is this: How long will the Wisconsin Democratic state senators continue to make the people fight for themselves?