Saturday, May 07, 2011

A DARLING PARTY




As some of you may know, Wisconsin has been engaged in a number of recall efforts on the heels of Scott Walker's union busting legislation. Recalls are focusing on the Republican Senators who helped force through the bill with no debate or room for negotiations. (I know most media outlets make it sound like there are equal recall efforts for Democratic Senators too. In actuality, there might be small groups pushing it, but it’s a snowballs chance, and not in line with the true pulse of the Wisconsin people.)

Since debate and negotiation were taken off the table during the drafting of and crooked passing of this legislation, this has left the thousands of Wisconsinites with no other recourse but to recall their local Senators and force a new election. With even life-long Republicans feeling betrayed by their party, this bill strikes at the knees of the working class values Wisconsin has long stood for, and people of all stripes are now out in droves collecting signatures in order to tell these Republican Senators that they no longer represent their constituency.

Close to Milwaukee, Republican Senator Alberta Darling has been the focus of these recall efforts. Dedicated volunteers have been collecting signatures and putting the word out with signs, stickers and all means of localized communication. With the submission deadline for the recall signatures looming, the Recall Alberta Darling campaign put together a benefit event to help seal the efforts. But with so much momentum, the rally turned into a celebration, having collected and submitted the signatures needed a week early.

Held at the new bar Riverwest Public House, the nation's second non-profit/cooperative bar, people poured in early Friday evening. Braving the rain and forgoing Good Friday traditions, people came to celebrate the campaign with speeches, music, and a display of the signs and banners collected from the historic Madison Capitol protests. A truly diverse crowd, this hipster neighborhood bar was not only filled with the prototypical Friday night crowd, but at least half the crowd were older, blue-collar men and woman who probably haven’t been to a Friday night rock show in decades, if ever.

Channel 12 News made an appearance, with their anchorman rushing past the volunteers collecting the cover charge (a.k.a. my friend & I) in order to survey the room. To my knowledge, the event never made the air. (I’m sure more important things than a grassroots political upheaval were happening in this sleepy city that night, maybe a sale at Macy's or a golf tournament announcement.)

Overall, the night was a big success. Filled to capacity, the event was well orchestrated with a great line up of speakers (including Democrat Senator Chris Larson and Ruth Conniff, writer for the Progressive), several Milwaukee bands, and 88.9 DJ Dori Zori ending the night with a vivacious dance party. It was a another positive milestone in the labor movement, with the individuals who made the recall happen joining together as a group and celebrating the fruits of collective action. Solidarity!

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