On this dark day in Wisconsin's history, I am in mourning.
In the last twenty-four hours, Republican legislators rammed through an alternative bill, after weeks of an impasse over the Governor's exceedingly unpopular proposed budget "repair" bill. Because of the blitzkrieg nature of the passage of this bill, which stripped public workers of rights proudly held for over fifty years, no one seems to be entirely certain of what else is in the bill. It seems likely that many of the things I care most deeply about and have worked hard for will be taking a serious hit. Like health care for the poor and uninsured. Like public transit, which would give low income workers in my community access to jobs. Like health care for seniors, and the disabled.
When I woke up in the middle of the night last night, too angry and said and frustrated to sleep, I found a fellowship of the sleepless on Facebook, where we raged and commiserated and plotted. Today I set a personal record for the number of separate demonstrations attended in one day--three.
The next few days will bring more rallies, more work, and my first involvement with a recall effort. In the course of this struggle, my state senator has hewed firmly to the Republican party line, going along with every quasi-legal maneuver, and mouthing the standard arguments. On a recent radio program, I heard her say that she had never been more certain that she and her party were on the right course. This, despite a process now ringed by police in riot gear, and a citizen in a wheelchair being forcibly removed from the building where she sought to be heard by her elected officials on a matter so important to her that she had been there for several hours. This senator and I need a divorce. Our differences are beyond irreconcilable.
It is hard not to be drawn into the pitched battle going on around me. Yet I am uncomfortable with how we seem to be thinking and feeling about each other in Wisconsin, and beyond. I am not really the Braveheart type. I am clearly a partisan, but a quietly critical one, as I observe the contradictions within our patchy coalition.
For tonight, I need to retreat, to rest, to quiet the chants reverberating in my dreams. Tired, but not defeated yet, is what democracy looks like tonight.