Monday, March 14, 2011

Let's Be Grateful

I woke up this morning with 35 followers. All I can say is, wow. Rather than say "thanks for following the blog," I have to say, thanks for affirming, in your own way, that you care about your community, and that you're interested keeping Wisconsin strong. That sounds cheesy (pun!) and it is, just a bit anyway. But it's heartening to see the level of compassion we have for each other. Most of the fuel for my fire comes from neighbors and friends. Their happiness is our happiness, and their struggles are often ours to bear. I'm glad to see that this is true for so many of us here.

Madison was beautiful this weekend, and crowded with Wisconsin supporters. Some estimates range up to 185,000. It was packed, shoulder to shoulder, all the way down the lawn and across the street, backed up to the buildings. Someday we will tell our kids, on a visit to the capitol, that we saw the entire lawn full of people standing together in solidarity. We can be proud of ourselves, but the true moment, for us, will come when we elect candidates that care about our communities again. This weekend will only be a success if we actually make a positive change at the ballot box and restore our voices. Personally, I'd like to see a state constitutional amendment allowing collective bargaining. I think we can do it, but first, we need friendly legislators who will listen to our needs. The recalls are an important first step.

What a day Saturday was. Sara and I watched as our Senator Vinehout gave a stirring speech, along with the 13 other heroes we have in our Senate. The Senator is hopefully back home milking her cows this morning! We would have loved to see the tractorcade, but we only saw one tractor, slowly making its way through the masses, as we arrived a bit late on the scene.

I can tell you that after these past three weeks, I'm tired. This has been absolutely nerve-racking, and remaining centered throughout this process has been an impossible journey in and of itself. We've stayed up nights poring through news reports. We've had bitter words with friends and family. We've watched as our elected officials slam teachers and snowplow drivers. We've seen them denigrate the service of the Senators standing up for us. Some of our friends have even slept on marble floors for weeks. We've forced the Republicans to admit that this is not about the health of our state. It's about money for their wealthy campaign backers. But all of this is tiring. Unlike them, we can't rent protesters, and we can't afford fancy coach buses, and we have to make our own signs, and we have to sing with our own voices, and we have to walk door-to-door gathering signatures, because that's the only way we're going to hire an elected representative that wants to hear our voice.

Thankfully, as a result of everyone around us, although I'm exhausted, I'm also extremely hopeful. I hope you are, too. We will stick together, we will smile as we sing, we will cheerfully petition for these recalls, and Wisconsin will be ours. One of the best things the Reverend Jesse Jackson said this weekend is that a struggle for rights has never been lost, over the course of human history.

The pundits keep referring to the recall efforts using phrases like "Never in Wisconsin history." Let's get to the streets with our clipboards and make Wisconsin history. This is the moment where we stand up to the billionaires and ask them to respecfully keep their hands out of our pockets. I can't wait to meet more of our friends and neighbors as we canvass neighborhoods this spring. Wisconsin will be ours!