Like many people around the world I've sat back with interest over the past few weeks and watched history unfold in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Iran, Yemen and in my own country in Madison, Wisconsin. It seems to me as though people of many political persuasions have finally had enough and have chosen to bring an end to the status quo.
I am especially fascinated by how social networking has been used as a tool to get news out quickly and have had a front row seat to witness major events as they unfold at lightning speed. Just yesterday morning I was sent photos on Facebook of demonstrators in Egypt and Pakistan holding up signs in solidarity with the demonstrators in Madison. When I shared them with others I was attacked by several of my so called friends who felt that the demonstrations in the Middle East had nothing to do with the situation in Wisconsin. I beg to differ.
For a week now thousands of people in Wisconsin have descended on their capitol to protest Governor Scott Walker's attempt to ban binding arbitration with public workers. This is a clear attempt at union busting and union members from all over Wisconsin have come to support the public workers even though many of them are excluded themselves i.e. Police and Firefighters. In response to critics, Walker stated that he would ready the Wisconsin National Guard in the event that they are needed to prevent any disruption in state services due to union walkouts.
We as Americans have the Constitutional right to assemble peacefully and to speak our minds. The threat of mobilizing the National Guard was unwarranted since the demonstrations were peaceful. People that I know who were at the rallies stated that there were no problems between the demonstrators and the police and also stated that the police were cordial and respectful. It seems as though Governor Walker might have been a little too jumpy and panicked when he found his policies being protested.
What we are finding in Wisconsin and other states with newly elected politicians from the Republican Party and the Tea Party is a great divide between the promises they made as candidates and their impotence in making good on their promises. I think they thought that the American people would just roll over and play dead and allow them to push through any laws they wanted to and what they discovered instead was a re-awakened slumbering giant"the "Liberal"! One of the signs I saw at the Madison protests said "Screw With Us and We Multiply" and I'm afraid that this is the nightmare that the extreme right wing has brought upon itself because of its ham-fisted arrogance.
The extreme right wing of the Republican Party and its bastard step-child the Tea Party make me sick. The far right in the United States seems to think they own the rights to the term "Patriot" and if by God someone like me opposes their views we are vilified, cursed at and termed a "Traitor", or even worse a "Liberal Traitor". I looked up the word Patriot in the dictionary and found this definition: a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country. By this definition I am indeed a "Patriot".
My Duncan surname is Scottish and my kin first came to these shores in 1636 and settled in Rhode Island with Roger Williams. They came here to escape religious persecution in England and before that they fought the English in the Highlands of Scotland to defend their ancestral homeland. My people have fought for thousands of years for what they believed in and I am no different. Our Clan battle cry is "Gargn' Uair Dhuisgear" which in Scottish Gaelic means "Fierce When Roused" and I find myself having been "Roused" and I'm really pissed off.
The Tea Party as a representative of the public at large is a sham. According to a New York Times poll in April of 2010, "Tea Party supporters are likely to be older, white and male. Forty percent are age 55 and over, compared with 32 percent of all poll respondents; just 22 percent are under the age of 35, 79 percent are white, and 61 percent are men. Many are also Christian fundamentalists, with 44 percent identifying themselves as "born-again," compared with 33 percent of all respondents."
So if you're not an older, white male, Republican, with money and voted for Obama, you're likely not helping bag the tea or preparing to cast it overboard.
Here's another definition of the word "Patriot" I found by Mark Twain: The person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about. This seems to fit the Tea Partiers perfectly as they wrap themselves in the American flag and think of themselves as the most righteous patriots.
As we look at the demonstrations in Madison we need to examine the person who started this sh*t storm in the first place"Governor Scott Walker.
Governor Walker is the first Governor of Wisconsin in 64 years not to have a college degree. He attended Marquette University from 1986 to 1990 and dropped out 36 credits short of achieving a degree and had a grade point average in the C's. As Chief Executive Officer of the State of Wisconsin, it turns out that the Governor is less educated than any teacher in his state and yet has the balls to try to deny teachers their rights to binding arbitration.
My friend Robert Boyce sent me these statistics yesterday on Facebook regarding states that have no binding arbitration with teachers.
Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for teachers and have deemed it illegal. Here are those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores: South Carolina - 50th; North Carolina - 49th; Georgia - 48th; Texas - 47th; Virginia - 44th. Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country. Unions! Good for educators, good for kids.
There has been a lot of banter on Facebook between union members and supporters of Governor Walker who heap praises on him for his fiscal responsibility while holding down the position of Milwaukee County Executive. Here's the truth.
Walker won the office on a platform of fiscal conservatism, promising, among other things, to give back part of his own salary, and criticizing the salaries of other county workers as excessive. He said his voluntary give-back gave him the moral authority to make cuts in the county budget. He continued returning $60,000 annually, (slightly less than half of his salary), for several years, but by 2008, he cut his give-back to $10,000 per year. During his seven years in office, he never submitted a budget with a higher property tax levy than the county board had approved, he cut the number of county employees by 20 percent, and reduced the county's debt by ten percent. However, according to The Associated Press, "overall county spending ... increased 35 percent over his tenure".