I found this sticker on the ground the morning after Scott Walker won the recall election and sighed.
As Fighting Bob LaFollette said long ago, “Mere passive citizenship is not enough.” At the very least, why can’t Americans vote at more than the a 50-60% level? Many countries turn out far more of their citizens to vote—we tend to take our precious democracy for granted when we shouldn’t.
The night of June 5, after sixteen months of working very hard—especially in the last four days—I was exhausted and heartbroken when I heard the election results. My first thought was, I’ll never work like this again because it hurts too much to lose. When I simply cast a vote, my investment is much smaller and my loss less painful . . .
By the next morning, I learned it was likely that Democrats had taken back the Senate by a slim margin. Since control of the Senate is a powerful step toward balance and fair representation, that was very encouraging news.
But I had already decided that it was well worth working so hard for 16 months! Here’s why:
1. It was so much fun making new friends and working hard together with joyful determination and shared purpose. I mean, I even got to sing backup with the Solidarity Sing Along for Jackson Browne and Tom Morello! Who would have guessed?
2. It was all a learning experience. Sixteen months ago I knew nothing about our state government and its proud history as the laboratory of democracy. I did not l know how to use social media—or all of the words to 30 songs and labor ballads.
3. It was an enormous privilege to witness the birth of a new and important movement that is just beginning and will continue. Protecting our democracy and fighting for economic justice will be a lifetime project for me I suspect.
4. I hung around very spunky, admirable people and learned from them how to be bold, work hard, and stand up for what I think is right. And when we lost our bid to recall Scott Walker, there were lots of people to hug.
5. I’ve learned that our power is in our creativity and in trusting relationships. I’ve never been a witness to such enormous creativity from so many people. (And I majored in art!) Please watch this video for some homemade grassroots inspiration. A highlight for me was holding the lights one night on an overpass. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UE249ah5K4&feature=youtu.be
6. I’ve learned about the corrupting effect of Citizens United on our democracy. Posterboard and people power are very effective ways to bring visibility to an election, but sadly, were not enough to beat a billionaire–funded campaign flooding the airwaves with Walker’s misinformation since November. Please read this article and check out the graph showing Walker’s astonishing spending advantage vs Barrett. Also remember Walker had been campaigning for seven months. Barrett was his opponent for four short weeks. It begs the question, “Did Wisconsin have an Election or an Auction$$$ on June 5?”
After a rest from our labor, we’ll need to learn from what we’ve done so far and dig deep for more ways to win an election when wildly outspent. The rest of the country will have to learn how to do that, too, if the far right is to be defeated in any election.
(And can we please ban political TV ads and phone calls? People are fed up with it all and would be ripe for insisting that their lawmakers pass a bi-partisan law here in Wisconsin.)