Is Wisconsin the United States' Egypt...?
katrina vanden heuvel...
A friend e-mailed me this morning, "Do you think events taking place in Wisconsin might be as important as what's happening in Cairo, if the media really got the word out? Might it be the spark to halt the Tea Party Express?" Another friend e-mailed, "It's possible that this labor strike in Wisconsin could become our Uncut." (In response to Britain's draconian public spending cuts, citizens there formed UK Uncut, a Twitter-organized movement, to protest wealthy tax evaders. If the rich paid for their fair share of taxes, the movement argues, the pressure on the state budget would diminish or disappear.)
Wisconsin's Republican governor and Republican-dominated legislature are moving to destroy organized labor, moving to abolish democratic rights that were the essence of the New Deal, and treating working-class Americans as though they were meaningless in our country's mosaic. Meanwhile, those who are responsible for the catastrophic financial crisis are riding high--and in the name of deficits they largely caused, they insist that those who worked a lifetime to build and own their homes, to send their children to public schools, to have security in their retirement years, to have decent medical care--that those citizens should pay the price for budgetary crises in honor, dignity and decency.
David Vines, a University of Wisconsin student joined the mass protests against Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights on Monday. The political science student marched on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He slept overnight in the Capital to make sure that the legislature did not approve Walker’s plan without a fight.
Why? “This is what the founders intended,” says Vines.
And he is right.
When Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate walked out on Capital on Thursday – denying the Republican majority quorum that was necessary to pass the legislation -- they were attacked by Walker and his cronies. The governor called the boycott a “stunt” and claimed the Democrats were disrepecting democracy.
After all, Walker’s backers noted, the governor and his Republican allies won an election last November.
That is true.
But Wisconsin’s greatest governor, Robert M. La Follette, declared: “"We have long rested comfortably in this country upon the assumption that because our form of government was democratic, it was therefore automatically producing democratic results. Now, there is nothing mysteriously potent about the forms and names of democratic institutions that should make them self-operative. Tyranny and oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other. We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle. It is only as those of every generation who love democracy resist with all their might the encroachments of its enemies that the ideals of representative government can even be nearly approximated."
La Follette’s point, apparently lost on Walker, is that democracy does not end on Election Day. That’s when it begins. Citizens do not elect officials to rule them from one election to the next. Citizens elect officials to represent them, to respond to the will of the people as it evolves.
i'm at the airport, headed off for southern africa and won't be back until the end of may... however, you can be absolutely sure i will be following developments closely... i can't think of anything i'd like better than to see my fellow countrymen rise up to reclaim the power that has consistently been grabbed, wheedled, poached and stolen... and when i say "reclaim," i'm totally serious... every human being is born with that power but, through on-going manipulation and deception down through the ages, many of us have come to believe that power is something that belongs to other people... it's the phenomenon and the myth of learned helplessness and it's way past time to drive a stake through the heart of that sucker... Submit To Propeller