Wednesday’s rally was bigger than Tuesday’s. (Tuesday about 6,000 people; Wednesday about 13,000.) Thursday’s the scheduled vote, although there’s some indication of pushing it back for further consideration.
I have to say, the rally was fun. The demonstrators were so well behaved—vocal but positive. This wasn’t an angry mob, but intelligent people insisting to be heard. I felt proud to be part, with all those union members, and teachers, and high-school students.
My buddy Tim and I went to the Masonic Center, 301 Wisconsin Ave., for a 10am meetup and orientation. (We’d seen an announcement on Twitter, and this looked like a good place to start, though we aren’t actually members of any of the organizations.) From there, the crowd gathered at the Capitol at noon and marched around it for an hour, before the Capitol was opened and we packed inside. (See twitpic.com/photos/lestersmith. Most are photos from my outmoded camera phone, but you get the idea. Check my Thursday Twitter posts for news articles with better photos.)
After half an hour or so of group chanting and singing, Tim and I set off in search of Sen. Kedzie’s office; trying to find direction among all those people was impossible, so I called my wife at work and had her check the Net for Kedzie’s room number. We went in, introduced ourselves to his staff, wrote a note for the senator, said our piece, and then retired to an Irish pub across the street for some excellent food and drink. (I think Powers whiskey may have supplanted Jameson’s in my affections. More taste tests are probably required.)
Overall, there was a festive feel to this event. People knew it was deadly serious business, but the organizers were so focused, so positive (“This is about the bill, not about Walker”), I felt proud to be an adopted Wisconsinite. To stand shoulder to shoulder, filling the Capitol building, was such an affirmation of “This is what democracy is all about!” In such a setting, it’s hard not to feel proud of this tradition of self rule around the globe.
By the way, I’ve even come to appreciate the Packers more. Didn’t know they were the only publicly-owned team in the league. (Is that still true?) Learned today that Aaron Rodgers is the team’s union representative. And if you haven’t read it yet, a group of Packers players have written a letter publicly chastising the governor for his union-busting tactics.
Ah, and we heard today that the city of Eau Claire called an emergency board meeting and passed a unanimous resolution disapproving this bill.