The Corner

Michigan’s Union Protesters Don’t Understand American Government

“Snyder is acting more like a dictator, not a governor.”

So says Mike Matlas, who works at United Auto Workers International. I’ve heard similar complaints from many union protesters across the capitol today. Democrat lawmakers echoed the sentiment on the House floor. One lawmaker’s hyperbole veered toward offensive, saying that what was happening at the capitol today “reminds me for some reason of Syria.”

Of course, this says little about the right-to-work legislation that passed today in Lansing — and everything about union workers’ understanding of American government.

Democratic legislators couldn’t argue against Republicans’ legislative majority, so they’ve instead attacked the process, complaining about the legislation because it passed fast and in a lame-duck session. They also don’t like that the law was written in a way that prevents it from ever facing ballot referendum.

That argument is flawed, as I’ve already noted. Regardless, several Democratic lawmakers made appeals on the house floor today to take right-to-work directly to the people. (Never mind that in November, voters handily denied a union-backed effort to ban right-to-work legislation by constitutional amendment in Michigan.)

Few of the protesters I spoke to argued against right-to-work on the merits. Instead, their complaint seems to boil down to the suggestion that this is an attack on representative government. Many of them seemed to think that if they don’t get to exercise their political rights through direct democracy, they are being denied their freedoms outright.

That’s a profound misunderstanding of the American political system (and most every political system, ever).


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