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"This Is What Democracy Looks Like': A Visit to Madison

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Message Joanne Boyer
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We are native Wisconsinites.   We have a daughter currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   Madison is a five-hour drive from where we live, so this past weekend, my husband and I drove to visit our daughter and to see what's been happening in the state of our birth.


I'm happy to report that both our daughter and the city are doing quite well.  


The sight on Saturday in Madison was nothing less than historic, inspiring, and humbling.   More than 30,000 (my estimate) people braved the snow that fell overnight, the damp air, and a piercing wind that cut to the bone.   What remarkable courage these people have shown for more than three weeks.   And their humor is still strong.   The most popular protest "prop" displayed Saturday was an inflatable palm tree:   a clear reaction to the continued Fox News lies about what is going on in Madison.  


It is the demonstrators' perseverance and the conviction of their beliefs, however, that is most striking.   Hand-made signs, drawn on everything from poster board to grocery bags, showed a deep support for working families, and disgust with what this radical governor is doing.   There were so many signs, it was hard to read one before another walked past.   Some of my favorites:  


  • 100 percent of Wisconsin teachers are more educated than Scott Walker (remember, he's a college dropout)
  • I Love My State Senator (Wherever he is)
  • I Was Sent to Iraq to Remove A Dictator.   I Won't Tolerate One Here


Everyday Wisconsinites Display Their Protest Signs
Everyday Wisconsinites Display Their Protest Signs
(Image by Joanne Boyer)
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And on and on they went"all day in the freezing cold.   Peaceful protesters with not a hint of agitation or violence. Wall-to-wall people marching around the Capitol Square.   The signs said they were from Sister Bay (in Door County), Whitewater (near Madison) and Wonewoc (in the hills near LaCrosse).   Trade union members -- Teamsters, Pipefitters, Boilermakers.   Cops, including a group of New York State Troopers.


And the voices of the marchers rang out loud and clear in response to the question being chanted:   "Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like."   Their voices shouted back (and it rings in my ears still)... "This Is What Democracy Looks Like!"


The incredible speech delivered by Michael Moore in a surprise visit was like frosting on the cake to the crowd.   Wisconsin folks know what they are fighting for.   These are the faces of average Americans, who want nothing more than to work for a living, to be paid a living wage and to educate their children. And if they are lucky, to have time to spend summer days at a cabin "up north."  


They are not the ones who bundled sub-prime mortgages into "toxic waste' and created default swaps and derivatives, imploding our economy.   They did not defraud the country or ship jobs overseas to create obscene profits for multi-national corporations.   They are honest, hard-working people, who still believe a middle class existence is possible in 21st century America.   Why are we vilifying them while the criminals on Wall Street walk free?

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Joanne Boyer is founder and editor of Wisdom Voices Press and Her first book is "Wisdom of Progressive Voices." Joanne has worked in professional communications for more than 30 years. Her career includes being the first (more...)
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