Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin Proves Small-d Democracy Lives On!

In the interest of full disclosure,  I grew up in a union family, one of five girls of a Navy engineer and a nurse. Dad worked in the Merchant Marine after retiring from the service, and was a member of American Maritime Officers union. My grandfather never missed a union meeting. When he was ill, at the end of his life, it was his union that helped my grandmother and my mom survive. During his life, he never missed a union meeting. It was the hard work of my parents and grandparents, honest working folks who never gave up or gave in, that helped to make all of us the people we are today.

And I'm a teacher. A principal now, but once a teacher, always a teacher. When I became a principal, I had to give up my union membership - I hated doing that, because, despite the flaws of the system, the union is the only way that hard-working American families retain so many of the rights all of us enjoy. A short history lesson, via Our Gal Rachel:

Last week, you may have read my post on Egypt, the birth of a democracy. What we are seeing this week is the rebirth of our own democracy. And that's small-d democracy - the teachers fighting for their rights to organize and collectively bargain, the police coming out to feed the protesters, the firefighters stepping up to show their support. I literally stood up and cheered when I hear the crowds were 40,000 strong, with a party atmosphere, bands and all, standing up for what's right, in the snow, by God!

It's about time people are protesting in the streets. It's about time that the middle class stood up for what they believe. And it's about time we called the GOP on their corporate welfare and union-busting efforts. But it is about so much more than that.

I don't know what the GOP has promised WI Governor Scott Walker, but it must be big. An amazing private sector gig with a huge salary and benefits, or an appointment to some cush government position. But I can tell you this is a page straight outta the Rethuglican playbook. Bust unions, and you bust the last three bastions of any Democratic money, and 2012 is dominated by corporate money, compliments of Citizens United. This is a simple strategy to un-money the Democratic organizations that help the Dems win elections. It's calculated, cold, and ever-so-typical of the Rethugs. They're even busing in corporate-sponsored Teabaggers tomorrow to stoke the flames. Looking for a flashpoint, just like the dictators in Egypt and Bahrain, by sending thugs out to put down the rightful, legal protests in the streets. The same dirty tricks all over the world.

Seeing the protesters out there, 40,000 strong, it gives me faith in the people of our great nation. It makes me proud to be a part of my profession and proud to go to work each day and bring home an honest paycheck. But the real wonder is that we haven't had protests sooner. With all the rights and liberties we've had taken away, with the rolling back of our freedoms with the Patriot Act, and the unjust wars that continue to kill our troops and drain our coffers, putting us in the worst recession since The Great Depression.

And if it weren't for Our Gal Rachel and The Ed Show, the truth would not get out. Mainstream media has been, as is so typical, lax in covering the story.  I can't imagine any other gathering of 40,000 people that gets ignored by the news. I shouldn't be amazed by now. I really shouldn't.

But ya know who's covering it, in an incredibly warped way? The publicity arm of the GOP, Faux News. Yep, they are on the ball, talking about the "thugs" and "reprobates" rioting in the streets. Glenn Beck preaches that the teachers are in cahoots with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ('cause, you know we teachers have time to go to yet another meeting. Maybe we're all friends on Facebook...) Limbaugh made fun of the teachers, calling them "whiners" and "freeloaders."  See for yourself. (I won't mind if you can't stomach the whole clip...I couldn't!)

I dare you, Limbaugh, to get up off your sorry, drug-addicted fat behind and teach in a classroom for a day. Hell, for an hour! You'd bail before the roll was taken. I dare you, Glenn Beck, to tell people the truth - that what you say is a pile of hooey and makes you a fortune and you know it. O'Reilly, the supposed defender of America, you make money off the backs of the middle class, and you don't have even a fraction of the integrity of the working folks of this nation. Spew your vitriolic hatred over the airwaves, but don't you dare malign the hard work of my colleagues, of teachers everywhere, of nurses and firefighters, police officers and school workers, and all the other hard working people of this nation. You haven't earned the right to shine their shoes.

But Rush is just part of the distraction. And behind it all is the GOP's desire to limit the funding for Democratic candidates so that they can sweep 2012 in what amounts to a one-party system. While Boehner continues to stoke the culture wars, attacking Roe v. Wade and taking 2 week vacations after every week in the House, the GOP ignore the Rethug promise of job creation. Anything and everything they can do to keep the economy from improving, to divide Americans, to paralyze government, to defeat the Democrats' chances for re-election in 2012, well, they're doing it.

Thankfully, Walker picked teachers to pick on. Smart, educated people. People who are used to hard work and fighting for what is right. And we have friends: everyone that ever had to work hard for a day's pay. Everyone who has ever had to beat the pavement looking for gainful employment, a decent day's pay. It'll be fascinating to see what happens, but the smart money is on the teachers in this fight. And for all of our sakes, and for the sake of our democracy, let's hope I'm right about this one.  

What's your take, fellow Politicos? And what's going to happen? Is this a case of "as goes Wisconsin, goes the rest of the country"? Put your two cents in here at Momma Politico!