In Wisconsin right now, it is a tamer version of the beginning scenes of the movie Braveheart. But the feelings are parallel. This would be the scene where the vulnerable are being raped and killed and the warriors among them are slowing stepping up. The Scottish begin winning battles against heavy-handed English who’ve never lost a moment of sleep worrying about them as a significant threat. But the Scottish begin to make progress and begin to arouse the interest of the commoners who’ve just plodded along through the years, slowly losing more and more rights, but never enough at one time to ever fight back…but then, the masses begin to care. They begin to view their lives differently for the first time. They stop believing the lies that they don’t deserve better. They begin to view the suffering of the people as evil…as evil inflicted by the elite few of society. This angers them….angers them to their core. So they begin to feel and they begin to fight… and they shock everyone, mostly themselves, when they begin to win.
I feel it in my gut. God help us, but we may win.
But we aren’t winning right now. In fact we’ve lost many battles. And we’ll lose more. Here’s a summary of the past, an update to the present, and a glimpse of where we are going from here.
Round One: goes to Governor Walker and his cronies (big corporations and Tea Party supporters). Yeah, they “passed” (perhaps illegally, tied up in courts presently) the bill to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights. They have the votes needed to take healthcare away from our poorest Wisconsinites including seniors, veterans, farmers, and children. They are removing the mandate on recycling. They are replacing the head of our Department of Natural Resources with a “developer.” Walker gave away over $100 million of tax payer money to corporations and simultaneously turned down additional millions in federal aid for a high speed rail system (along with thousands of decent paying jobs and income that would’ve created).
Round Two: goes to the Wisconsin court system (on behalf of everyone else). The Walker administration hasn’t won anything in the courts yet:
- Walker was court ordered to re-open the Capitol building when he tried to have it closed to the public after hundreds of thousands of protestors inundated it in protests.
- Then The Walker Administration was embarrassed when it had to back-peddle in court and admit that protesters had not demolished the Capitol building to the tune of $7.5 million. He adjusted the figure to several hundred thousand dollars (also a total overestimate - I’ve been there. There wasn’t a trace of damage except for the lawn looking like a mud bath!). It has been suggested that the regular custodial staff could add the tape cleaning to their regular duties. They could also let the protesters clean it! We’d line up for that task – seriously.
- The third embarrassment for Walker came when he was court ordered to release his emails after he claimed in a press conference that the vast majority of his 9000/day emails supported him. An organization analyzed his emails on the day he made that claim – they were 5:1 anti-Walker. Upon further review, almost all of his support came from OUTSIDE Wisconsin whereas nearly all of the opposition came from INSIDE Wisconsin. So much for his claims that all of the protests are special interest groups from out of state.
- Finally on March 18, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi issued a restraining order to prevent The Secretary of State from publishing the specialized bill (removed from “The Budget Repair Bill” and pushed through separately without a quorum) that would strip collective bargaining from most public employees. She said that the state legislature had violated an “open meetings” law because it didn’t give 24 hour notice prior to vote; therefore, preventing it from becoming a law for the time being. Yesterday, majority leader (and Walker friend) Senator Fitzgerald contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau and asked them to publish the law instead. The LRB agreed, and posted the bill on their website. "It became clear that this was an option and they were on equal footing with the secretary of state," Fitzgerald said, “It’s law tomorrow.” Bitter fighting has now erupted concerning legality of negating the role of the Secretary of State.
An appeals court has declined to reconsider Judge Sumi’s ruling. So that leaves the Wisconsin Supreme Court to sort out this mess. Setting the stage for our next round…
Round 3: Upcoming April 5: State Supreme Court Justice race. Incumbent, Judge Prosser, has a voting record in line with Gov. Walker 95% of the time. Prosser’s own media team called him a “complement to the GOP legislature.” Perhaps the most indicative of all, is a direct quote that has circulated that Prosser called a fellow member of the Supreme Court a “total bitch” and said “I will destroy you.” Rather than apologize or refute these statements Prosser said, “I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted.” JoAnne Kloppenburg, on the other hand, is being touted as “the people’s choice.” Prosser claims that she is an “ideologue” with “extreme political and social views.” So, this race is of the utmost importance for two reasons:
1) This is the first chance for the people to voice, through our vote, our opinion of the Walker administration. The country will see once and for all where we stand. If this turns out poorly I might have to remove my blog.
2) This race will determine the “recipe” of the state supreme court. The court is composed of 7 members and the outcome of this race will break the tie between 3 left leaning and 3 right leaning justices. Currently with Justice Prosser, the court leans right. If Kloppenburg wins, the court would lean left and hopefully provide a more favorable outcome for the common person, rather than corporate interests.
Now, probably none of you will watch this hour long debate, which has the old time feel of the original debates between politicians in this country. But please watch each of the candidate's 1 minute concluding statements. Start watching at 52:34. It is quite compelling.Round 4: May 2: senate recalls are completed. At that point, we’ll need to wait for 30 days for the signatures to be verified. If a recall is successful, an election occurs 6 weeks later between the recalled incumbent and someone from the other party.
Round 5: November: Gov. Walker Recall begins….
I had time to write today because my family took the day off. Yesterday I was busy making contacts, gathering information, networking, organizing, making signs, and helping support two new recall booths in a nearby community. I am more motivated than ever, but am feeling so fatigued at the same time. I won’t let myself think about how long this fight will be…only looking ahead as far as the next deadline. It has become strikingly clear to me how very few people will become involved in a fight beyond signing their name – even when it will affect the rest of their lives and their children’s lives…and even when the poorest and most vulnerable among us are being bullied into submission. I try not to judge apathetic folks, but at the same time – I just don’t understand them. And they are all around us.
And the most troubling of all, are some of the working class folks who have decided that because they have so little, the rest of us should have less too. Instead of joining together for the benefit of all, someone yells “F-you!” or flips me off while I am collecting signatures. I try to meet that anger with understanding (I’m not always successful). They are hurting too. And we need to be on the same side if we are ever going to be successful in taking back our beloved state. But just like in Braveheart, our citizens are “so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from (Walker’s) table that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.”