Whatever you want to call what happened in Washington, D. C. last weekend, the last thing that comes to mind is "democracy at work." To contrast the insanity that was playing out there, I thought back to Wisconsin last winter. What resonated for me were the chants from those Wisconsin protesters who marched for weeks: "Tell me what democracy looks like" they shouted to the crowd. The response came loud and clear from the tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands who were protesting: "This is what democracy looks like."
As difficult as it may seem right now to look forward with optimism, we cannot lose sight of the fact that what Wisconsin started back in February 2011 is what must be duplicated over and over again if we are going to stop the travesty of what continues to happen in Washington. (Campaign finance reform would help a lot too.)
Tuesday August 9. It seems as though we've waited forever for the chance for Wisconsin voters to turn the tide, right the wrong and change the landscape in this country. For those who need a slight refresher, this all began when a handful of Teaching Assistants (TAs) said, "No." It grew from those few to more than 100,000 on multiple Saturdays in February and March.
And they never gave up. The marches turned to petitions for recall elections. And now Wisconsin has a chance to show big money interests what grass roots organizing can do. Fighting Bob LaFollette and Paul Wellstone are smiling somewhere and saying, "Thank you, Wisconsin, for remembering."
The hard work and sheer determination of those in the Badger state remains a beacon for all. The work ahead to change the climate in Washington, D.C. will be long and hard, but what takes place on August 9 with those Wisconsin recall elections can be the beginning of what we all need to remember: "The only antidote to organized money is organized people."
If Wisconsin voters (and hopefully no surprise ballots that pop up two days later) turn the Wisconsin Senate back to a Democratic majority, it will be the first sign that the people still have a say in democracy.
Forward Wisconsin. And onward to victory!