An estimated 35,000 Wisconsinites rallied at the Madison stop for Wisconsin’s AFL-CIO’s “Reclaim Wisconsin Tour,” the immediate focus of which is the recall of Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators.
Saturday was the anniversary of Governor Scott Walker killing collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin. The underhanded way the law was passed has become a signature for Scott Walker’s conduct; a law passed in the dead of night, in seeming violation of the Open Meetings Law, behind closed doors and to massive protests. The collective response to the announcement that the Republicans had put one over on the people was deafening.
It’s one year later, but Wisconsin has not forgiven or forgotten.
Saturday’s rally was Wisconsin’s usual high energy turn out, but 35,000 people for a rally over an event that happened one year ago is incredible. This is a state that knows how to fight back. Protesters showed up in droves, replete with the Solidarity Singers, who still sing at the Capitol daily. They drummed and chanted, “This is what democracy looks like!” They carried signs reading, “Fire the Liar!” John Nichols of the Nation was in the house, along with Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt.
Phil had plenty to say about the “policies” of the Wisconsin Republicans, “Brothers and sisters, these families are real. Their pain is real. Your pain is real,” he said. “It is the kind of pain that has no place in our Wisconsin.”
Supporters of recalling the Governor rode The Recall Express around the state, concluding the tour in Madison. Supporters include former Walker voters and lifelong Republicans, not just “union members and Democrats,” as some people would like the public to believe.
A former Walker voter had this to say:
“Eliminating collective bargaining rights is wrong, and it’s not the way we do business here in Wisconsin,” said Jeff Huenink, who voted for Gov. Walker in 2010. “The more I learn about Scott Walker, the sorrier I am that I voted for him. If I had known about his extreme agenda and the direction in which he was going to take Wisconsin, I never would have voted for him in the first place.”
And as for the Governor’s alleged “pro-life” cred, Sue Carey is a lifelong Republican voter, who says she will not support him again because of his caps on Wisconsin’s Family Care; cuts which will impact her as the mother of an adult with Downs syndrome. Either she or her husband will have to quit their job in order to take care of their daughter.
And where were the Walker supporters? Wisc Politics did spy one lone Walker supporter holding a sign reading “Support Scott Walker, Not Union Thugs.”
Was it something Walker did?
Gosh, it could be the stench of corruption surrounding Scott Walker. Close aide Kelly Rindfleisch has been charged with four felonies in the John Doe investigation and Darlene Wink has been convicted of two misdemeanors. Another has been granted immunity.
It could be the fact that Walker either violated the law in starting a legal defense fund or he is being investigated for campaign finance violations and/or breaking election laws. Yet he tells us all that he is not being investigated. What is his word worth these days, anyway?
Maybe it was the fact that job growth is “troubling” under Walker’s policies. “Policies” is the word Republicans use for inflicting pain and punishment upon the 99% while rewarding the thieves at the top. “Tough fiscal policies” means they will be tough for the 99% but there will be government subsidies for the 1%. It means absolutely zero about fiscal responsibility, as evidenced in Wisconsin where Walker and his Republican posse have racked up quite a large amount of debt due to legislation.
The support for Walker in Madison on Saturday was nowhere to be found.
Last year, during protests of Walker, supporters were bussed in and at least made themselves known. One year later, the support section was a ghost town. Walker supporters have apparently whittled down to just one man, holding a sign calling union members “thugs”, which presumes that the protesters were all union members and also presumes that teachers, firefighters and police are thugs. That’s a mighty small tent the Republican Party is building.
One day the Wisconsin Republicans will wake up and realize that it wasn’t just union members and Democrats who objected to their policies.
Source: Attendance numbers are the official numbers from the Department of Administration.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.