Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dispatches from Ground Zero

Has it really been since November that I've posted? Wow. Time flies when you're getting ready to make a big move, which I did on New Year's Eve & Day.

I'm now back in Madison, WI, and I wanted to add my voice to all of those who are blessedly filling our streets and Capitol building with their peaceful voices. In the wake of this garish bill by an equally garish governor, I want to express pride in a lot of people. I am proud of all the demonstrators (including myself) for their peaceful, yet vigorous protests. I sprained my foot this past weekend and haven't been able to stand on it too much, but I've been to the Capitol and spent some time there. I am proud of all my friends who have been spending their days there, bringing their children, and sharing their experiences online. I am proud of local law enforcement, who haven't been at all intrusive (that I know of). I am proud of my roommate's Saudi students, who have joined the protests despite not understanding most of the chants. I am proud of my favorite coffee shop, Motherfool's, for giving out free coffee today to protestors. I am proud of everybody (especially that person in Egypt!) who has been ordering food for the protestors. I am proud of bands for playing here and keeping people revved up. I am proud of the Daily Show, who came yesterday, apparently bringing John Oliver and a camel (who did not do so well on the ice).

I do not know what will come of the protests, but I fear that it's all going to be for naught. The unions have agreed to give up certain financial benefits in order to keep their collective bargaining rights, but Gov. Walker won't agree to even that. Attempts to negotiate with him have fallen on deaf ears. There is, of course, the fear that the protests will turn less peaceful if the bill goes through, but we can only wait and see.

As for why I care about this, there are many reasons. Most of them should be obvious--I believe that civil servants are entitled to band together to protect their rights. But for me, it goes much deeper than that. My mother is a teacher. She has never had the opportunity to belong to a union, but perhaps her career would have been rosier if she had had that chance. My father has been a political organizer and campaign manager for as long as I can remember--longer than I've been alive, in fact. And as for me, the offspring of these two hard-working, monumental individuals, I'm on Medicaid and can't afford for it to be otherwise.

I'm typing this from Motherfool's while I transcribe an interview for PopMatters. The art installation here is political, entitled Corporations Are People Now. I'm sitting beneath a framed bumper sticker that says: "Whhy do they hate us?" with "now more than ever" underneath it. This show was put up before the bill was introduced, but the sticker seems appropriate.

But I'm going to keep fighting the good fight, and I'm glad for those around the world that are joined with us in solidarity. Thank you.

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