Sunday, February 27, 2011

Madison yesterday

Snow, cold, homemade signs, families, workers of all kinds, religious folks, drums, and Peter Yarrow singin' 'Blowin' in the Wind' one more time, free pizza from donors around the world, free Equal Exchange coffee (unless you're Scott Walker, said the sign), union members handing out hot dogs and bottles of water - never seen anything like it. A combination of festive and fierce, angry people who are so, so nice, and so polite, so happy and so enraged.

At one point during the rally, they called from the stage for a singing of the national anthem, and everyone immediately grew quiet then sang altogether. Then they went right back to "kill the bill!"

Now is the time for the thing that never seems to happen in recent decades after inspirational uprisings - the left, the union leadership, the affluent progressives, the 'liberal elites,' the Democratic politicians, the DNC, all need to get humble and relearn solidarity with working, struggling folks. Now the public sector unions need to translate all this good will into a struggle to support the rights equally of workers in the private sector who have seen their wages and benefits and collective bargaining rights and membership decimated in recent decades.

Now is the time for all these groups to start seriously addressing something that never comes up in the political discourse anymore - poverty, the plight of the now-permanently unemployed, immigrant labor without any rights - we have to start crossing all sorts of political and cultural and economic chasms if we are really serious about not handing any more of our society, our politics, our precious Wisconsin, our resources all around the country to the corporate sector.

This is a time for a great coming-together, otherwise we will continue the course of the great tearing-apart. This article in today's Journal Sentinel again describes how what Walker is doing is surfacing long simmering, bitter divides among us. If we don't find a way to bridge that gap, the rancor will only get uglier. We all feel this among our relatives, friends, neighbors. The only way to heal this is to not play our part in creation of rancor but in the coming-together. I felt the potential for this in the streets of Madison. Now it's time to plant that garden, nurture it carefully, and let it grow.

Photos: Margaret Swedish

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