I've spent the last four Saturdays on the Capitol square, attending rallies. Last Saturday, we enjoyed musical sets by Michelle Shocked and Ryan Bingham (the latter was my favorite) and caught the tail end of Michael Moore's speech. Today I heard a pep talk from Susan Sarandon (who was this week's surprise celebrity guest), helped welcome my State Senator back home, and prayed with the Reverend Jesse Jackson for the people of Japan.
It's been both exhausting and exhiliarating. I'm woefully behind on household chores, and I'm never quite catching up on sleep, but I feel like a part of something important and wonderful, even when I'm walking alone (which has only been for a short period before connecting with friends or meeting up with my husband). In addition to members of my regular social circle, I got to spend some time today with an old friend I haven't seen much of for several years (since he lives in Milwaukee and doesn't play much in the SCA anymore). I also spotted a couple of SCA acquaintances who now live out of town that I haven't seen in several years and never would have expected to see demonstrating.
Tomorrow, instead of catching up on laundry, we will go back for a big union demonstration (tomorrow is the day that many public employees' contracts expire).
For those from out of state who do not understand why we've made such a big deal about this, this bill isn't just about reining in public employees' benefits. It is also a war on local control which will result in severe hardship for many cities and villages. Complying with some provisions will prove extremely difficult and costly for many communities, and sorting out new work rules will likely result in a number of lawsuits. While talking with my boss and a colleague at work yesterday, I suggested that this was the Republicans' stimulus package for trial lawyers, which got a big laugh out of my politically-connected audience (one of whom is a lawyer). They joked that this is how Walker is making it up to them for the tort reform bill.
The bill will also severely cut health care for low-income and disabled individuals, as well as the farmland preservation program. That is why there was a demonstration by farmers today. They had a tractorcade around the Capitol square, with some classic old tractors (some looking like they only appear at tractor shows, and at least one 1970s-vintage International Harvester that looked like it still sees regular use).
I don't have any pictures of the tractors, unfortunately, because my camera battery died before they arrived.