Balancing life as a freelance musician and mom of two in Madison, WI.
The Walker fiasco is a perfect example of how elections have consequences. The people of Wisconsin did democratically elect Walker and the 19 Republican State Senators. Wisconsin "should" have ended 2011 with a budget surplus, but the two new business tax cuts and his conservative health care policy put you guys in a deficit. But that is what happens when a Tea Party endorsed candidate gets elected Governor. The protests in Madison are inspiring but they aren't a greater display of democracy than than the Koch brother influenced citizens that put him into office. The people of Wisconsin voted for their policies when they voted for Walker and the other 19 Republicans. It is important to remember this fact. It is very easy to demonize the other side and claim that democracy is on OUR side. But that isn't true. The people of Wisconsin did elect the man and are reaping the consequences. The good news is that the first shot in the conservatives' War of Labor was fired in Wisconsin. A state with a deep history of Labor and standing up for the rights of the working class. Unless I am mistaken, Walker can be recalled in January 2012 but not earlier. So, with that being said, it is important to channel the passion being demonstrated on the streets in Madison into a constructive force during the next year and not alienate the majority that put the man in office. People don't like to be told their wrong. If they can be convinced that they were tricked, it might work, but if they are told that they were wrong in the first place...well, you will probably have 4 years of the guy. Sorry to high-jack your blog, but I have been following this closely, because it is the front lines of the coming political battlefield and I do care. Which is why I am offering the warning, it is easy to get swept up in the emotion of the moment and lose sight of the end goal.
Roy, the people of Wisconsin who voted Walker and those other Republicans into office certainly did not expect him to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights, a practice that has been in place for nearly 50 years. We knew he would give back the money for high speed rail. We knew he would cut back on the state payroll (our previous governor already did that; it's not as though state workers haven't made sacrifices already). This action of Walker's is a huge blow. I'm angry that he was elected, and yes, the entire state is "reaping the consequences" as you put it. But the people have spoken - with plenty of yelling - and even some Republicans are re-thinking this budget plan. You talk about being swept up in the moment, but believe me, everyone taking to the streets and marching around the Capitol is FULLY aware of what this is about: power. Walker wants power over state workers, power that he can't have in full if the unions have any collective bargaining rights. Union leaders have already conceded that workers will have to make sacrifices - yet again - by taking pay cuts. This is about rights, not money, and no one has lost sight of that. Believe me.
A couple more thoughts:1. Keep in mind that Walker tried to push this through with almost no public deliberation. That is fundamentally undemocratic (and why the 14 democrats from the state senate left Wisconsin indefinitely)2. Thousands of public school teachers are among the demonstrators here, teachers who know they are at risk of losing a few days' pay or even their jobs by coming here to protest. Don't think that wasn't a deliberate, rational, thought out action.3. Walker wasn't elected by a huge majority. Neither was Dubya in 2004, remember?
I came over here from your knitting blog. As a former Wisconsinite and UW alum, I've been watching the protests and am so proud of my home state. I saw that the police released a statement at 5pm today indicating that there had been no violence or arrests even after the counter protesters showed up today. That's amazing. Anyway, thanks for fighting. This is so important. I wish I could be there.
Susan, we are in complete agreement. This is a wholesale attack on collective bargaining right, not just in Wisconsin but in the nation as a whole. It is also not just an idea that one crazy governor came up with one morning. This has been high on the conservative to-do list for quite some time. The choice of Wisconsin was not an accident. They knew that there would be a strong push back (although I do not believe they imagined it would be this strong) but they think that if they can hold their position long enough, they will win. And to a degree it is working. The protests in Madison have taken all the air out of the room, and so there is almost no coverage of Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana. A bill has already passed the State Senate in Tennessee. I hate using violent analogies but calling this a war of attrition is accurate. The side that is able to maintain the electorates sympathy will emerge the victor. Good luck, there is a lot riding on the outcome.
I am not from Wi, but I'm your neighbor in MN. From my perspective, I don't understand why his bill is taking away the collective bargaining rights (unless he knows how it affect the budget). But good for him in making people pay for some of their benefits. The rest of the country has to do that (unless they work for a private company that isn't taking taxpayer dollars)The WI people don't have to pay for the majority of the workers' benefits. I can understand that it hurts, but being fiscally responsible hurts.And he isn't evil like the protestors are making him out to be. Don't you think he knew he would be disliked? Don't you think that he knew this was an extreme way to balance the budget? Don't you think he thought of anything else? Everyone is so quick to judge! Don't tell me you aren't!You have a right to argue and be mad, but he isn't a monster!
Roy, I understand that your intentions are good, but take a deep breath before you get too confident making pronouncements about "losing sight of the end goal." There are people involved in these protests in Madison who have been on the front lines of democracy since before you were born. They know a thing or two about end goals. Collective street-level action like this works. It's not failproof, but it comes from a strategic playbook that is, to continue the war metaphor, very battle-tested. It is a far more transparent mode of democracy than the corporate media-perpetuated lies and deceptions that fueled the candidacies of Tea Partiers like Walker.Making the debate about whether or not the protesters are "demonizing" Walker is a distraction, a delaying tactic. It's a classic one at that. I see this constantly in my research: anti-gay conservatives go on and on about how they are being wrongly impugned by liberals as "hateful" and as "homophobes." Then the debate shifts--it's not longer about the genuine harm caused by their words and actions, but about whether or not the liberals are hurting their feelings and making them look like "monsters." Start paying attention, and you will see similar tactics everywhere. Call their bluff.
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