Setting the stage for wild swings

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In modern era, one-party control is the equivalent of ideological bullying.

THE SIGNATURE INITIATIVE from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's two terms in office is Act 10, which severely limited government employees' collective bargaining options and sparked not only big protests but a failed recall effort.

At the time we were of two minds. First, a rollback of union power was overdue to bring compensation between the public and private sectors more in line. Asking government employees to pay more for pensions, health insurance and the like was appropriate. But, secondly, parts of Act 10 crossed the line between improving fiscal balance and flat-out engaging in union-busting. There was a clear impression that Walker and Republicans saw an opportunity to kneecap a top Democrat sector, and took it.

We suggested then that a situation had been created in which Democrats - when they again were in power - zealously would rip down what Republicans had done. Apparently, we were right.

IN A RECENT SURVEY all Democrat candidates for governor hoping to oppose Walker this fall said they want to repeal Act 10 if possible, which would take not only a Democrat in the governor's chair but also a Democrat-controlled legislature.

Having all that fall into place seems unlikely for Democrats, but if it did the Walker legacy - Act 10 is still cited often by the governor, and was front and center during his short presidential campaign - would be toast.

Without litigating again the relative merits of all the reforms of that time, we will repeat our argument that wild swings right or left invite equally wild swings when the political tables turn. That may be one election later or several elections down the road, but when Democrats are in control it's inevitable Republicans will win again someday, and vice versa. Over-the-top ideological warfare almost assures the favor will be returned when control changes.

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