Thursday, February 17, 2011

What these protests mean

The protests in Madison this week are nothing short of miraculous, a beautiful display of democracy in action. These aren't just union workers in the rotunda of the Capitol building -- they're also the family members, friends and supporters of the nurses, teachers, social workers, prison guards, civil servants and other public service employees of this state. They are both public and private employees, fighting the dictatorial decree of our state's governor, Scott Walker.

I'm a prime example of this: I'm not a member of any union, am in fact a private sector worker. But I still support this movement -- I understand that what is being fought for in Madison this week transcends my personal story, affects those that make the state run. They don't work for the income (it's low) or the glamor (it's non-existent), but because they know the work they do is necessary to make Wisconsin a great state to live in. These workers are my neighbors, my friends, my family -- and to deny them my support would be incomprehensible to me.

What comes of this week is a reminder to the American people, to the privileged and the struggling, the rich and poor, conservative and liberal alike, that the power of every day Wisconsinites converging on our state's Capitol building, demanding a common political cause, cannot, and should not, be ignored, both locally and nationally.

I've been saying it for months, years: the American people are progressive at heart. More Americans support reforms to health care; more want taxes raised on the rich; more want gay and lesbian rights expanded; in short, more want an expansion of happiness for all.

One thought pops into my mind when I look at these crowds on my television screen as well as in person: the middle class is sick and tired of the b.s. that's been handed to them over the years. Trickle down economics don't work; it shouldn't take more income now to live the same lifestyle that most Americans enjoyed in the 1970s.

In other words, we're going backwards -- the middle class is shrinking, being left behind, forgotten by leaders like John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Scott Walker (though the Democrats are hardly helping right now either). But if this week's demonstrations prove anything, it's that these people the workers of this state (both public and private) stand together, support the beliefs that made this nation a great super-power.

A full-time job should provide a family a decent living. A person who works hard should be able to retire at a decent age, to live their lives in retirement comfortably. To ensure they're able to work, employers ought to provide their employees and their families -- whether public or private -- a decent health care plan.

These are the ideals that our country used to support. But for the past 30 years they have been dismantled, stripped away and rescinded by conservatives under the auspices of improving the growth of the private sector. These deregulations were implemented from Reagan to present, and every day Americans have been suffering ever since.

But the protests of this week give us something to believe in again. In Madison, I'm reminded that the people haven't lost hope, haven't given up on the ideal that the American dream is still alive, that an employed man or woman can provide for their family and ensure security in their lives through their employment. Win or lose this battle, fellow Wisconsinites (and Americans elsewhere), our voices cannot be silenced so long as we stand united.

Ours is a noble, just cause -- and one which must not end this week, nor this month, nor this year. It's a cause that's worth defending for generations to come -- the cause of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


  1. How wonderfully stated! Thank you.

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