Voting for Law

Today is the day that Scott Walker faces his recall election in Wisconsin. Here’s hoping for a healthy margin of victory. I don’t really have any feelings about Scott Walker one way or the other, I just strongly feel that people who subvert the legislative system should not be rewarded for it.

Predictably, lefty blogs take the opposite view. Somehow, requiring people to join unions whether they want to or not and seeing that government employees get benefits that are ridiculously generous by private-sector standards is absolutely necessary for even basic labor rights. And if you buy that I’ll throw in the Golden Gate for free. Public-sector pay perks are not even remotely a civil rights issue, but that doesn’t stop DailyKos from saying laughable things like this:

Wisconsin progressives have inspired us, invigorated us and built an aggressive fight against the right-wing’s continuing efforts to smash unions, trash equal pay for women, give tax breaks to corporations, raise taxes on low-income people and make it harder for voters to actually vote. Today that battle culminates in the recall election against Gov. Scott Walker. But it’s far more than just an effort in one state against one governor. Whatever its unique qualities, it epitomizes the struggle we face nationwide. Today, we progressives are all Wisconsinites.

Oh, grow up. The epic progressive battle “culminates in the recall election against Gov. Scott Walker?” Really? That’s what these two centuries of social legislation have been leading up to? Generous pay perks exclusive to government workers? Silly me, I would’ve thought winning the vote for women was more of a watershed?

Well, whatever, they have lots of helpful advice on how you can participate in the most important election in human history. Here’s the one that catches my attention, though:

here should be NO requests for photo ID from voters! If you see signs, if you are asked for your ID, please notify us IMMEDIATELY. Call our 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683), post here, or tweet us @EPWisco. Be sure to tell us what polling site & where the site is located!!!

Alright, well, fine, I have mixed feelings about voter ID myself. But here’s what I don’t get – these same people frequently say that it’s alarmist of gun-control opponents to worry about gun registration laws. Somehow, having to show a photo ID is an egregious violation of my constitutionally-protected right to vote, but having to obtain a license to own a gun is not a violation of my constitutionally-protected right to bear arms? Wha…?

Of course, not every left-winger is a gun control supporter, and not every left-winger is opposed to ID requirements for voters either. So, the overlap between these two positions is not perfect. It still seems fair to say that most so-called “progressives” find themselves in the sizeable overlapping section of this Venn diagram. What gives?

Maybe they explain themselves by saying that constitutional protection has to be balanced with public safety. Which is fine, as far as it goes, but of course all those Due Process rights are precisely the sorts of things that people concerned about public safety of the fascist persuasion don’t mind applying a little “common sense” to.

You think my analogy imperfect – but are you sure? Just because a gun can be used with criminal aggression doesn’t mean it always will be. Guns are used in self-defense too. In the same way, just because Due Process restrictions can make life easier for criminals doesn’t mean that’s all they do. They protect innocent citizens from the over-zealous and/or corrupt law enforcement too, you know.

I suppose I should outgrow my longing for consistency in politics. But is this really that hard? If the constitutional rights you like are inviolate, then why wouldn’t the rest of them be? If the government can force you to buy health insurance, what’s to stop it from forcing you to buy other things? If walking out of the legislature is OK when Democrats see a bill they don’t like, Republicans are gonna do it to.

Increasingly my political position is this: let’s make sure we have a consistent, established rule of law, and we’ll worry about the details afterward.

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