Anarchy is defined as a state of society without government or law and also as a lawlessness or political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control. We are in danger of anarchy in the United States. Usually anarchy is the result of one or more dissident groups acting to inhibit the function of a government. In the present situation, it is our elected officials who threaten to create lawlessness and political disorder through their actions.
Our republic was established as a government run by the will of the majority. Elected legislators are charged with voting on behalf of the constituency from which they were elected. Law and policy are determined by majority vote. It is easy for members of the majority to work out a proposal that is satisfactory, but what are the dissenters to do? If they do not have the votes to kill or amend the proposal, they can not prevent the proposal from being enacted.
Legislators are charged with representing their district. Thus they are to debate with the intent of changing the votes of other legislators. They are to vote in according to the best interest of the district even when they are on the losing side of the vote. At the very least, they are showing the world that the decision was not unanimous. The will of the majority, however, carries the day. Such is our heritage.
In recent years, we have had an increase in the use of parliamentary maneuvers to manipulate the outcome of legislative debate. Parliamentary procedures have evolved to enable legislative bodies and public meetings to be run with a minimum of confusion. Some parliamentary maneuvers simply facilitate the group reaching an agreement on what is worthy of the majority vote, however other maneuvers inhibit legislative action. Increasingly, legislators who are of the minority position are inhibiting legislative action through the use of maneuvers that block progress. In my opinion the use of such maneuvers is unethical.
I have served on government committees where one or two shrewd parliamentarians have distorted the will of the majority. In effect they have dictated terms to the majority. We have no place for a dictator in a republic.
One of the most important items of parliamentary procedure is the quorum. A quorum prevents a small number of members of a legislative body from doing business in the absence of a large number of members. Without a quorum, the party boss could convene a meeting with a handful of supporters and enact just about anything. The concept of quorum presumes that the meeting is scheduled at a time and place that should be reasonably convenient to most of the members and that the members make every effort to attend.
The current crisis in Wisconsin is the latest in a pattern of legislators refusing to attend sessions where their side of the issue is likely to be defeated. This interrupts the business of the respective house. This is an unethical maneuver that constitutes legislative anarchy because it prevents that legislative body from performing the business of governing.
My ancestors fought a revolution for the right to set up a political system under which the government responds to the will of the majority. One of the rallying cries was, “No taxation without representation.” Wisconsin Senators who are not responding to the opportunity to vote on the budget bill are denying their constituents representation. When they also intentionally force a lack of quorum, they are denying representative government to the entire state.
I call on politicians at all levels to run the state and federal governments on the basis of representative government. Please vote on measures so that the majority position is allowed to set laws and policy. Please do not use parliamentarian tactics to delay or kill a bill that deserves to be voted on. Tactics to bottle up a bill in committee or to prevent a vote on the floor of the house cause political disorder and could potentially cause social disorder because it prevents government from doing its work. Now we are back to the definition of anarchy.