A State Held Hostage
When Wisconsin Democratic state legislators fled their state to try and derail a bill they didn’t like, they received national attention. While that battle is effectively over, except for the inevitable follow-on skirmishes in court, another Democratic walkout is entering its fifth week in the state of Indiana. In some ways, the ongoing situation in the Hoosier State is more troubling than the recently concluded battle in Wisconsin, largely because of the national implications.
This is not the case in Indiana. A quorum is necessary to pass any kind of bill in the Hoosier State. Thirty-nine of forty House Democrats have been holed up in a hotel in Urbana, Illinois for over a month now, meaning that that Indiana House cannot find a quorum, leaving the sixty-strong Republican contingent in the House powerless to do anything.
The other difference in Indiana is that the minority party hasn’t run away in order to protest a single, targeted issue. Instead, Indiana Democrats are effectively trying to derail vast swaths of the majority party’s entire legislative agenda. This is something new and, potentially, something dangerous. When the nuclear option of shutting down a legislature is limited to the occasional, high-profile issue, it’s an annoying and childish event, but we can probably live with such isolated incidents. If the walkout strategy somehow starts to be viewed as a legitimate legislative tactic that can be used to undermine the majority party’s efforts to implement their basic agenda, then what’s the point of having an election at all?
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