What I saw this weekend was amazing. People from all walks of life: both union and non-union, young and old, teachers, firefighters, police officers, municipal workers, steel workers, snow plow drivers and more; who came together in our capital to make their voices heard. Saturday, seventy thousand people peacefully let their government know how great an injustice this “budget repair” bill would be to all of the people of Wisconsin.
The fact that Gov. Walker and Congressional Republicans are ignoring this call from the people should come as no surprise. This is just the current state of affairs in their long march to the bottom for wages, benefits and the rights of workers across the state and across this country.
Fifty years ago our great state led the country in the fight to extend the protections and rights of workers in the private sector to their fellow citizens in public service. Today, this class of Republicans are launching their opening salvo in a war they are waging against the Wisconsin worker.
Make no mistake, this war is not just against public workers; this war is against every man and woman who works for a living in this state. Their endgame is to shift the balance of power forever into the hands of the corporation. Their plan is to destroy the middle class which was built up through the organization of laborers who could not get a fair shake on their own.
The protestors are neither asking for more wages nor more benefits. They are not unreasonable people. They have offered and in fact pleaded with the governor to meet at the negotiating table. These pleas have gone as yet unheeded.
As a last measure of devotion to their beliefs and to stand truly in representation of their constituents, fourteen dedicated civil servants – the Democratic State Senators of Wisconsin, left their homes and families to make sure every voice in this debate gets a say.
This was not a stunt, but rather the only option available to a minority who was being left out of a discussion about this issue of tremendous importance. When there is but one tool left to defend your principles and your rights that tool must be implemented. The true slight to democracy was the attempt by congressional Republicans to rush this bill through without discussion at all.
The right has attempted to paint these Senators as disrespectful of the democratic process. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the State Party pointed out in a press release today, Presidents Day, Republican Abraham Lincoln attempted to use this very same strategy in 1840 to prevent a quorum in the Illinois legislature.
In this case Lincoln and his colleagues had to jump out a first story window in an attempt to avoid a quorum after the door to the legislative chamber was locked and barred. It is evident from history that our brave State Senators’ acts are not unprecedented and are most definitely highly principled.
I stand in awe of these Senators who continue to serve all the people of Wisconsin and I look on the protesters with pride. The scenes I witnessed this weekend are no doubt indelibly etched in my mind.
I continue to stand with the people of this state who stand up for the rights of the worker. I continue to stand against those who would take away any rights that are long fought for and hard won by the people. I continue to stand with the people together, fighting for the Wisconsin Way, because together is the only way I know how.
Sheboygan County Democratic Party