Last year when
the Wisconsin GOP hastily passed Governor Walkerâ€™s budget repair bill, blatantly ignoring the stateâ€™s open meeting law, I was in California. I remember checking my email on the evening of March 9, 2011, and seeing an emergency message: Come to the Capitol NOW. The Senate is voting.
Absolutely stunned, feeling helpless and outraged, I followed via Twitter as the situation unfolded. Iâ€™ll never forget how angry I was. I would have run all six blocks from my apartment to the Capitol had I been in Madison. It is estimated that 7000 people stormed the building that evening, hoping to make their voices heard.
The next morning, I awoke up to heartbreaking stories of Japanâ€™s earthquake and tsunami. I remember thinking that another kind of earthquake had occurred in my home state. It was so difficult to be away, especially to miss the Tractorcade rally that drew hundreds of thousands of people two days later. I followed via live blog and felt so proud of our state and the 14 Senators who returned to Wisconsin that Saturday.
Hereâ€™s what John Nichols recently wrote about the historic events one year ago:
â€œWhat is happening in Wisconsin, and America, is that, finally, as the corporate interests make their ultimate claim on the commons, they have created what my old friend Florence Reece described as a â€œwhich side are you on?â€ moment.
As Wisconsinites have taken sides, and as Ohioans and Michiganders and New Yorkers have done the same, they have found that the old divisions that so favored the elites â€” white versus black, gay versus straight, native versus immigrant, urban versus rural â€” are abstract and meaningless. What is real is the threat of a state and a nation so defined by corporate campaign contributions, corporate lobbying and corporate power that they can take away our right to organize unions, to speak in our workplaces and our communities, to petition â€” as the founders of the American experiment intended â€” for the redress of grievances.
We draw on our radical traditions, yes, but we also respond to the demands of this moment, the first moment of a new American age when peoples once divided recognize that the threats are so serious and the potential of our unity so great that we must all, in the words of the posters the farmers attached to their tractors on that Saturday a year ago: â€œPull together!â€
My friend Rae took this Tractorcade picture. If you missed the event, or want to relive the experience, watch this amazing video. http://www.tourdeforce360.com/madison_protest/index.html