Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Homecoming in Madison

The Fab 14 are back home. Hat tip to TPM for the video link:

If these guys had rolled over at the start and just let this legislation pass, chances are the story wouldn't have received as much attention outside of Wisconsin as it did. You wouldn't have had the Koch phone call and other revealing statements and behavior from Governor Walker. But, because the 14 risked their careers to stand up and do what they thought was right, they drew the attention of the nation and brought this issue to the forefront of the media. Suddenly, you have stories popping up everywhere on what governors and state legislators are doing across the country - and that certainly will help turn the tide in the long run. Bravo Senators, we need more like you.

And it's important to note that these protests haven't carried the vague threats of the implied violence of "2nd amendment remedies" or other such nonsense. Fox News and others may try to raise the specter of union thugs, but you never had movement leaders saying that they would reach for the "bullet box" to solve this problem. It's a marked difference in tone, and only 16 arrests have been made out of weeks and weeks of people occupying the Capitol. From the Green Bay Press Gazette story, "Huge crowd descends on downtown Madison without problems".

A record-breaking crowd of up to 100,000 protesters angry over Gov. Scott Walker’s law that eliminated collective bargaining from most public employee unions remained peaceful Saturday.

Madison Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain said officers estimated that between 85,000 and 100,000 people came to the Capitol Square and the nearby downtown for Saturday’s rally.


Police and protesters alike praised the atmosphere at the demonstration.

“People are saying, ‘Excuse me,’ and being a polite as can be,” said Paula Clay, an early childhood education teacher from Cumberland. “There are no rabble-rousers or anyone causing problems.

Julie Montee, 46, a kindergarten teacher from La Crosse, made her first trip to Madison on Saturday to protest. Montee, who signed a Walker recall petition, said the large crowd made the experience empowering, uplifting and sad all at the same time.

“This is the only opportunity I have to express myself,” Montee said.

The GBPG has a nice photo gallery as well that shows the size of the crowd from the vantage point of the surrounding buildings. It was massive. This particular rally didn't receive a lot of national coverage due to the tragedy in Japan, but the story is out there now and there is no going back - thanks to the actions of the Wisconsin 14.

Best of luck to them from here on out. It's far from over with the legal challenges and recalls gearing up, and something tells me it's going to be a bumpy four years for Wisconsin citizens. May they find the strength to continue the long battle ahead.