One Fine Day

Today's rally at the capitol was both larger and calmer than when we'd attended previously - if there were 80,000 people there two Saturdays ago, there were easily 100,000 there today. We couldn't get any closer to the stage on which the Fab 14 spoke than one quarter turn away across the capitol lawn, and even there the crowd was solid from the outer walls of the capitol building to about 1/3 of the way down Wisconsin Avenue. The crowd on State Street stretched even further.

Today seemed to be about catharsis, or about marshaling one's forces for the fights to come. Two weeks ago, there was a lot of chanting, a lot of anger, a sense from many that the state of Wisconsin was on the verge of a great swindle. Well, since that time, we have indeed been swindled. The Budget Repair Bill was a boondoggle to begin with, and when it passed the state senate in the way that it did -- it's "fiscal elements" stripped, announced and pushed through on the fly to skirt any possible efforts to discuss or publicize what was in the changed bill -- and the first battle on these state grounds was lost due to the treachery and lack of honor of our state Republicans. (When Steps One and Two bring chants of "Shame," you'd think you'd go for a dignity play in Step Three, but these folks have no dignity.) So those that marched today had been badly kicked, but they were not down.

Rather than wallow in anger, we -- my wife and I -- decided to make our signs positive, a heartfelt "Thank You!" to our Fab 14. Walking the capitol and listening to the senators today actually brought me a sense of peace -- a sense that is time to get over the "shock and awe" of the blatant lies, manipulations, and misdeeds of Scott Walker and the Fitzgeralds. It is time instead to get to work: to help fund legal action, where possible, against the contents of this bill; to continue to argue against the proposed 2011-2013 biennial budget; to highlight the under-reported ways the budget and the repair bill will harm Wisconsin workers, families, and students; to dig in on the recall efforts.

Phil Ochs said, "I ain't marching anymore." Today, my state senator, who is also a (fairly recent) alum of the school for which I work, said "Now we trade in our rally signs for clipboards and we take to the streets." Jesse Jackson -- who pronounces the word democracy in a cool Jacksonian way: "democ'zy" -- basically gave us permission to be grouchy and pissy and bummed out until April 4th, but as of Election Day, we need to "Come Alive, April Five." Will do, Rev.

As before, standing in a crowd and thinking of all that is on the line made the day a pretty emotional one. I didn't know I knew the words to "America the Beautiful," but they came through anyway. We couldn't see the Fabs, but we could hear the emotion in their voices, and I really felt -- and continue to feel -- a debt of gratitude for their willingness to sacrifice, to risk petty punishment and derision, to allow the public the opportunity to intervene over the last three weeks. There actions were heroic, and it was strange to hear them thanking us. You have that backwards, Fabs. The most touching moment was one that seemed to come out of nowhere when, while either Lassa or Vinehout was speaking (couldn't see!) about recent challenges, the crowd started chanting "We will win." And we will. We will.

Here are some of the signs, and some of the people, we saw today:

















We returned to two kids we love, who we hope very much will not live long in this era that strips resources from their city, their health, their public school, their future, and their parents. Though they may have had different reasons, they too wanted to march. They too demanded to be heard.



The next photo is not particularly pretty, but it is a photograph taken by a five-year-old of a T-shirt that was screen-printed by some art students at the university for whom I work. I post it only to show what democracy looks like -- it ain't always pretty, folks -- and in the spirit of shared sacrifice.


I take to heart the words of Teddy Kennnedy: "The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."

1 comment:

baroness said...

Right on, Brian and Kristen, Sam and Caleb. We're proud of you. And I just want to remind everyone of a major source of this problem: a second horrendous error of the Supreme Court, maybe even worse for the future than their totally illegal decision in the 2000 election. I refer to the Citizens United decision which opened up the coffers of outfits like the Koch brothers to buy all the public officials they can. Here in FL, they are running some absurd ads about the nasty unions and so-called heroic officials trying to squash all public participation. Sickening! Federal legislation can repair the situation somewhat, but we really need to get rid of morons on the court. Roberts and Alito are not even the worst. Which means reelecting Obama in a landslide, as well as replacing many Congressmen and Senators plus a major portion of most state legislatures. Let's get busy.