I'm really glad I live in Wisconsin right now.
No, I haven't gone back to being a Republican. That was a long time ago, when Republicans still had a shared sense of history and purpose, and were not completely co-opted by religious wing nuts, greedy rich people, and power hungry war profiteers. Which means it was WAY before the Tea Party.
The reason I am glad to be here at this particular time in the state's history is that I am watching the reclamation of democracy from the front row. The events that began about four weeks ago when a young, power-hungry, corporately-owned governor said he'd use the state's National Guard to back up his attempts to crush public employee unions have put in motion a movement unlike anything I have seen before. (And coming off the Obama for America wave, that's really saying something.)
More people than I can imagine have already dissected Governor Scott Walker's so-called budget repair bill in the media and the blogosphere, so I won't do that now. The bill itself makes sweeping changes to laws governing how public funds are used and how public workers are treated. Many claim Walker is doing what he was elected to do. Many more argue that he at best is over-reaching and at worst is setting the state back 50 years while shitting on the strong Progressive heritage of Wisconsin. I loathe Governor Walker for what he's done, and have an equal level of contempt for his Republican state senators led by my own senator, Scott Fitzgerald. They duped a large number of the willfully ignorant to vote for them, in most cases against their own best interests. Disillusioned Progressives made the strategic mistake of not turning out to vote against this cabal, and now we find ourselves in a battle to save the state from all-out corporatocracy.
Yet to be living in Wisconsin right now, and especially in Madison, is to be at the center of a major movement to retake our government for the average citizen.
To stand in the Capitol rotunda with several thousand people, chanting "This is what democracy looks like" was an electrifying experience. Standing on the capital square, listening to speaker after speaker address crowds that broke all kinds of records for public rallies in Madison (no easy task if you think back to the late 1960s), was breathtaking. And seeing how peaceful this continued protest has been, with whole families taking part, has been nothing short of truly inspirational.
These days, I am am half way into a PhD at the University of Wisconsin - Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. My research focuses on social media and how it intersects with civic engagement and political communication. What better time to be here than now? The events that have unfolded in Madison... and that are inspiring similar events in other states whose citizens are being stream rolled by Tea Party Republicans beholden to corporate masters... have come together in a large part via social media. As I have mentioned to several friends, I am living a giant lab experience.
My observation of and participation in the events in Madison have been chronicled in social media. Most of my expressions have been made on Twitter (@DaveWilcoxUW). Like many people who actively use social media technology, I don't blog as much on my own site as I used to, turning to micro-blogging throughout the day rather than posting a few times during the week. In hindsight, I regret that, especially during the past month. I've had dozens of topics pass through my head but not make it to Kerfuffle. But at the same time, Twitter has played a major role in how the whole Wisconsin Uprising has been unfolded. I'm glad I was in the middle of it. And even if you don't have a Twitter account, I hope you have taken a look at the running commentary to the left of the main posts here.
Given that tomorrow marks Kerfuffle's fourth anniversary, I pledge here and now to spend more time posting on the mother ship. As we move from protests and rallies to recalls and new elections, there is no place in the United States I would rather be than Madison, Wisconsin, tweeting and blogging and researching my brains out.
Right here, right now. [h/t Preston Austin]