The differences between Madison, Wisconsin and Tripoli, Libya should be obvious. The fact that Madison hasn’t floated away on a crimson tide of gore should be encouraging—horrors on that atavistic scale happen only where there exists not even the nominal right to redress majoritarian excesses through protest.
The contrast to America’s experience of 1968 is positive as well; I remind you that movement flamed out prematurely due to inexperience and lack of discipline. The image created in my mind by this phase of the Madison Uprising is more like that evoked by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”—the silent edge of a rising shout.
The crowds in Madison seem to have leveled out at a steady 30,000-40,000 per day, according to most reports. That is still a pretty freakin’ huge # when put into context of the relatively sparse population of this section of Wisconsin and personal commitments being made by protesters in order to attend, in terms of time and money. All the more so when you consider the scanty number of counter-demonstrators that the dilettante Koch brothers have been able to scare up from out of state, even with literally billions of dollars at their disposal.
And the theatre isn’t over by a long shot. There are ongoing recall efforts on both sides. And beyond recent Hollywood fly-bys, there is a plan for thousands of Wisconsin farmers to show their solidarity with a tractor convoy to the capitol on Saturday, March 12th.
Nonetheless, it has to be admitted that the two camps have pretty well defined their positions, and the recent encounters between them seem limited to procedural skirmishes rather than the sort of rooftop todeskampf that our infamously short-attention span media crave. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Courts ruled that Walker’s attempt to close off the Capitol building to protesters is unconstitutional—but also places restrictions on the hours that protesters may access the building, including a prohibition on overnight stays.
- Authorities discovery live ammunition left at the entrance to the Capitol building. Given his breezy contemplation of hiring undercover goons to start a ruckus within the protesters’ ranks, some speculate that Walker is using this as a black op of some sort to ratchet up the tension.
- If so, the balance of the evidence suggest that this is a MAJOR miscalculation on Walker’s part. The peaceful conduct of the protesters was formally commended by a local judge, and the single confirmed incident of which I have become aware seems to have been resolved quickly and quietly with no disruption to the peaceful conduct of the protests. Although police are dutifully maintaining their mandate to oversee public order, they don’t seem inclined to violate citizens’ rights in the name of Walker’s power grab. In fact, the police have gone on national record as declaring solidarity with the protesters.
- Senate Majority Leader Republican Scott Fitzgerald calls for vigilante action to apprehend the Wisconsin 14. Jim Palmer, the president of a major police union, decries the action as an abuse of power, being neither in accordance with the state’s constitution nor statutory law.
- Walker didn’t really unleash any surprises in his official budget unveiling last Tuesday, either. There are suspicions that Walker may have coordinated with Koch in order to bus in ringers to applaud his highness’s speech. But no surprises. The substantive detail drawing the most public attention are the devastating cuts contemplated to the state’s education programs—not generally considered a wise workforce development strategy.
These actions all seem par for the course, and few, in the short term, are likely to be swayed out of their current positions. But that would be to ignore the tremors rumbling beneath the surface, the silent scream rising within. The opposition is beginning to get organized. Walker’s stupid, scattershot intransigence has done the single thing that Clinton- or Obama-esque triangulations could never do, which is to meet together and formulate coordinated structures, strategies and tactics to actively promote a truly moral agenda.
Continued at Dystopia Diaries