Now that we've made national news (I think we were above the Charlie Sheen stories this morning!) - I've seen a few news stories categorizing the protesters in Madison as being extreme liberals.
I'm the first to admit that we've got plenty of lefties here in Madison. Many of them are my best friends. But there are a bunch of us who are just left-of-center out there protesting too. I can hardly be described as fringe - we live around the corner from the Governor's mansion. (My daughter worried what we would do if his sons joined the neighborhood swim team this summer and I assured her we would be polite and civil.)
I'm more upset about the process and political tactics than I am about some parts of the bill. I expected Walker would try to cut both taxes and spending - he gets to do that. We did elect him. (I even agree with some of the provisions of his bill.)
You have to understand that the Governor in Wisconsin is a very powerful man. We have the "Vanna White" veto - otherwise know as the partial-item veto. Both Thompson and Doyle were notorious for their use of this power. With it, they can take out individual words or letters to change any sentence to their liking. They can pretty much do whatever the hell they want.
So, Walker simply did not have to act in the power-grabbing way he did. He did not have to attempt to ram this through the legislature in 5 days. He did not have to have the Fitzgerald brothers hold middle-of-the night votes in the Assembly or 2-hour-notice votes with the Senators.
Our next biennial budget doesn't start until July. He had plenty of time to let the Assembly and the Senate debate this bill. He had plenty of time to allow journalists to write about it and citizens to protest. (or not.)
The thing is - here in Wisconsin, government works pretty well. Not perfect, but well.
Our schools are good. Our roads are plowed to a standard unlike anything I saw on the east coast. Our buses are on time. Our DMV is actually run by competent, friendly people. Our University system is excellent. Our parks are numerous and well kept. Our police and firefighters are respected. Our children all have healthcare, regardless of income. We even plow our ice-skating rinks on a daily basis during the month of January. There is a lot right with the public sector in Wisconsin. (Again, not perfect...but good enough.)
That is why I think he rushed this through with the political tricks. I think he realized that if he gave people enough time to think, they'd say, "It may not be perfect - but I like our highly functioning public sector here in Wisconsin."