Thursday, March 10, 2011

Something Stirring in Wisconsin

There's something in the air here in Wisconsin right now. I got the news of the bill passing last night as I opened up my computer at the Coin, where I was meeting a friend to do some work. First I heard was from an email from the Milwaukee IndyMedia mailing list I signed up for years ago now. I think that's indicative of how news is traveling - about this ongoing polical struggle, and of course, in this new digital empowered age as well. It's links and who you "know" in your personal cybernetwork. Not necessarily from the spigot of direct news outlets.

After work tonight, I went to meet the same friends at the rally at the Milwaukee Courthouse. There were about a hundred people there I would say (I'll also say I'm worse than Fox News at trying to guesstimate crowds. I never know how to gauge that sort of thing). Diverse crowd of young and old, kids to grandparents, college looking kids, granola looking couples, laborers and teachers. A lot of people had signs, of course; reading the signs is one of my favorite things about a rally. Jesse Jackson was supposed to be there, but at about 5:45pm he was still on route from Madison. People were taking turns giving short speeches on the microphone that was set up on the courthouse steps, overlooking the small yard and central fountain.

Now I like signs, but I really love speeches. I love speeches, I have to say it again. It's one of my favorite things in the whole world - a great speech is equal to some of my favorite songs. They can be like songs - and some people tonight were actually signing. But overall, it was impassioned people telling their story and speaking to and summarizing the zeitgeist as they saw it. I wish this would happen all the time.

My friend ended up speaking as well. When Cori and I realized Eric was going to go up - we were standing in the grass and he had been to the right of the microphone, about ten feet back, just holding a sign in the sidelines that said something like "Recall Darling - Ask Me How." He is volunteering for the Alberta Darling recall campaign, and had a petition we had put together at the bar last night. Anyway, when we realized he was going to say something, it was great. We were laughing and instantly became nervous for him because he had some big acts to follow. He did a great job though - I'll post the video.

So what I'm saying is, this is great. I love it. I'm going to Madison on Saturday - I made that decision last weekend, and am now more excited than ever to participate in this historic unfolding.

But what I think is the most amazing thing I've seen so far is this footage from the lone Democratic Senator during the bill passing last night. His exasperation is so palpable. The way the capitol exploded with chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" I just have to laugh at the Republicans as they sat at that table, silent, becoming palm bearers in one of the most tragic chapters of American Democracy. And you can just tell they're so scared to break party lines and actually have to make some decisions for themselves if they want to follow their conscious. It's funny because its so disgusting, it's laugh or squirm with awkwardness at how uncomfortable it is to watch someone lose their integrity like that.

But the Democratic Senator - wow, that was his time to shine and he took it. Repeating the law, looking so shocked that the other members were literally ignoring it. It's like all legitimacy to what they were doing was swept away, the smoke cleared, and here he is realizing that there was nothing to stop it. The smoke screen of democracy blown away. He did his best, he gave a great address to the people of Wisconsin after the Republican storms off. And how much more American does it get than him washing it all down with a gas station glass of soda. Ha.

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