Thursday night, a group of individuals opposed to many of the proposals made by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature engaged in acts of civil disobedience during a meeting of Joint Finance Committee. Specifically, these individuals read statements during the meeting and were removed by Capitol police. Some made statements directly attacking members of Joint Finance from both parties.These actions occurred at the beginning of a meeting that addressed cuts to shared revenue, expanding school choice and, ultimately, at approximately midnight, a provision which further restricts collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.
As I tried to enjoy my morning coffee Friday, I overheard a man say that he does not want to be involved in something that includes what protesters did Thursday night. That sentiment, in my view, is exactly why our movement must continue to band together and make our voices heard, but do so in a way that invites others to join us.As we move toward recall elections for six Republicans who have voted in favor of every proposal we have opposed, nothing could be more important than gaining control of the Senate.With control of the Senate, we will have legislators who can actually block legislation, rather than the status quo of only being able to delay the Republicans' march toward completing their agenda.The Republicans have repeatedly shown that they are not interested in listening to the voices of the people.When we gain a Democratic majority in the Senate, the people will have not only a voice, but also ears that are willing to listen.
As someone who has poured my heart and soul into opposing the Republican agenda, I understand the frustration and the desire to speak out, loudly and continuously.I second the call Voces de La Frontera has made for people to make their voices heard. I wholeheartedly agree that the budget process has not truly provided an opportunity for the people to be heard, given the limited times and locations of the budget hearings which allowed for public comment and the refusal of some Republicans to even acknowledge that those protesting are residents of Wisconsin.
However, I do not believe that we must resort to disruption and obstruction of the legislative process in order to accomplish that goal.Every time a protester shouts down Joint Finance, he or she is robbing the voting public of a chance to hear Rep. Jennifer Schilling speak, effectively diminishing her visibility going into the recall race against Sen. Dan Kapanke. Every time a protester shouts down Joint Finance, he or she is giving the four recalled Republican senators on the committee -- Luther Olsen, Sheila Harsdorf, Alberta Darling, and Randy Hopper -- a chance to be seen as sympathetic figures. When these Republican leaders are allowed to speak, voters have the opportunity to realize just how wrong they are, which can only help our cause.
When I attended the Joint Finance Committee's public hearing at State Fair Park in April, I was moved by both the speakers from Voces de la Frontera and by the massive showing of opposition from ordinary citizens who stood in the audience, silently raising their fists in their air. That moment was powerful.There is power in doing the right thing the right way.We can continue to make our opposition known by contacting our legislators, staging protests and rallies, canvassing and phone banking for recalls, among numerous other activities.
To people like the gentleman in the coffee shop this morning, I want to ask you to stick with us.I want you to know that those who choose disruption are a small portion of this movement, and there are many of us continuing to work against Scott Walker and the Republican legislators through non-violent, respectful means.We want and need you to continue standing up to their actions and to help us succeed in the recall elections.
To people who are not involved with the active opposition to the Republican agenda, I want you to know that Thursday night's demonstration was not representative of the true sense of community and respect for the process that I have experienced for over 100 days of this movement.Just as you would not judge a book by its cover, I would ask you not to judge everyone who stands in opposition to Gov. Walker based on the actions of a few.
To those who will continue to work tirelessly to oppose the current budget proposal and to recall the six Republican senators, I would add this: there is an old adage which says that cooler heads prevail.I remain firmly committed to the idea that if we keep our heads cool, we will prevail.
The following individuals join Jenni in supporting this message: Kyle Nabilcy Ed Knutson Analiese Eicher Tom Kastle Mariah S. Clark Margarete Worthington Mark Garthwaite Sarah J. Anderson David Wilcher Chris DeWald Melissa Nowacki Celi Clark Haga Matt Thompson Jennifer Cauwels Scott Wittkopf Scott Viar Mike Tapia Kelly Ward Scott Friedle, PhD S.J. Barlament Sara Lazenby Kristine Zierke
Jenni Dye is a Madison-area attorney who has been actively involved in the protests at the Wisconsin Capitol, and has actively covered the events via Twitter.