It’s Sunday morning and it is still snowy and wintry cold in Wisconsin. I have another post– one about mothering and adoption that I promise will go up very soon, but I continue to write about Wisconsin here, because it has certainly moved me. And I believe that what is going on is so very important.
In Wisconsin, a certain kind of immediate drama has ended. The teachers have gone back to work, the Capitol has been cleared– but teachers, workers, students, parents– still have not gotten discouraged, given up or stopped. The Fab 14– the Democrats who have gone to Illinois to block a vote, still have not given in and returned to Wisconsin, not one of them. They remain in Illinois and they continue to refuse to be part of what Governor Scott Walker is trying to force on the state and its people. A movement is building that is not dependent on more dramatic events (though important) like occupying the Capitol or staying out of work. This movement, the people there, seem to be digging in for the longer haul.
Wisconsin is like the one young person you once kept your eye on in school– the one who did something brave or out of the mainstream; the one who reminded you of who you were but were too scared. But after watching that other young person for days or weeks, or maybe years, you said to yourself, “maybe, just maybe I could be that brave. Maybe if she could do that or could just be that much herself, maybe I could too.”
I am hungry for this news about Wisconsin, this growing resistance to things gone so wrong, this growing understanding of our strength and power– the strength of of our ideas about what is right and the strength of our unity. More and more of us are watching. The Wisconsin workers don’t know where this will end, and neither do I. But it seems more possible than it has seemed in a long time that we could get for ourselves something better than we have imagined as we have shaken our heads with sighs and resignation as things have gotten worse and worse.
I am hungry for news each day. I leave cell phone messages, I email and await the calls from my sister and her sons in Milwaukee, my close teacher friend and another of my oldest friends, in Madison– to hear the things they don’t report in the press. As much detail as they have time to give me. I sat and read a long, long email from my friend M. about last weekend and the discomfort and the beauty of falling asleep on a cold marble floor, looking up at the Capitol rotunda. Yesterday in the midst of two car rides– hers in Wisconsin and mine here– my friend, A., who is the teacher in Madison about whom I’ve written here, called and told me about her Saturday– going with her own family and a bunch of people and gathering in the fire station. What it was like to march with the firefighters with their bagpipes and the ancient, soulful sound they make, the cheers of the crowds as they marched to the State Capitol.
The filmmaker, Michael Moore is feeling the way I am. He made the spontaneous decision very early Saturday morning to get on a plane and go to Madison, to join for the day, what has become a huge, regular Saturday protest in support of teachers, public workers and all working people. Below is the Youtube link to hear the speech he gave. The camera is dizzyingly shaky early on, but hang in and it settles down. The crowd, however, appears to be settling for less and less. Moore’s speech, America is Not Broke– offers a perspective (that I believe is accurate) about what has happened in the economic life of our country over the past many years. Michael Moore is unabashedly excited and very proud of Wisconsin and so am I.