The business of citizenship is taking more and more of my time these days.
It seems there's a fresh battle forming on every front. I live in the formerly great state of Wisconsin. Here, we are at ground zero in the struggle to resist a radical right wing agenda that threatens to reshape our polity. My state's Democratic senators are in hiding as I write this, attempting to delay a vote that seems almost certain to adopt the draconian measures proposed by our newly inaugurated Governor in his effort to balance the budget. Schools across the state are closed, as teachers join the throngs in protest.
Scott Walker's bill would strip public workers of nearly all collective bargaining rights, require their unions to be recertified every year, and allow workers to opt out of paying their union dues. As a sop to a corporate campaign contributor, a section of wetlands would be made available for development. Graduate assistants in our state's public universities would no longer be eligible for in-state tuition, which would vitiate important research projects and cripple our world-class institutions of higher education. On the heels of maneuvering to send back $800 million in federal funding for high-speed rail, and the thousands of jobs it would have created in our job-hungry state, it is rumored that the Governor is threatening to refuse Title I funding for low-income students in our public schools, on top of budget cuts of $500 per student in his proposed budget "repair" bill. Every time I log onto my computer, I find the reactionary wildfire breaking out in a new sector.
This morning, I spent time updating links on my organization's website to direct people regarding protest participation, and contacting their legislators; I contacted my own legislators; I attempted to call the Governor's office to register my opposition, but after spending a half hour listening to busy signals, and finally getting a ceaseless ringing that magically morphed into yet another busy signal (!), I gave up and sent an email. Then, attending to a separate disaster, I called my U.S. Representative to register my concern about the public media funding threat, up for a vote today in Washington.
I will probably end up in our state capitol, along with tens of thousands of my fellow citizens, before the week is out. And no, I don't have time for this. But what else is more important right now?
Again, my business as usual must be set aside. As my Governor attempts to let the world know that "Wisconsin is Open for Business," I am pulled away from mine. And I am depressed about the future he and his confreres seem determined to force upon us.