This is not a very political space, and I'm not that much of a political person.  Most of my adult life I was a disillusioned non-voter, I just started participating in the process a few elections ago (I think it was the Bush/Gore election that convinced to me how important it was to vote).  I'm also somewhat of a misanthrope--I don't like big crowds.  The gigantic Dane County Farmer's market on the square, while awesome, is not my idea of a good time or a pleasant weekly grocery trip (I tend to hit the smaller, neighborhood markets). 

So you have to understand that it is Not Like Me to go downtown with thousands of people, and protest unfair legislation.  Scott Walker has managed to push all of my personal buttons (and those of a lot of other people) in a very short 6 weeks in office.

 And the thing I didn't expect is this: I found out some amazing things about people.  In the midst of large crowds and high emotions, I have never seen so many be SO NICE to one another.  Doors are being held open, police officers are being thanked for their service, long lines are jovial and patient.  There are signs reminding people to be peaceful, to clean up, and to share.  From across the state and across the country, folks are donating pizza and coffee and bottled water. 

On the edges, outside the louder rallies or parades, people are wanting to talk. On Sunday, in the capitol building, we met a woman who had spent the night with her grade-schooler, another who lived a few blocks from us.  We talked with a parent who brought her teenage daughter with Down Syndrome and who was worried about the bill's proposed changes to Medicaid.  We all made space on the balcony so they could get a view crowds below us.  Yesterday there were retirees and nurses and prison guards, some from the private sector and some lifelong union members.  We talked about the challenges in their jobs, heard about their families, commiserated in our frustrations with the political system. 

Despite the inordinate amounts of communication in this world, we are often isolated.  We seek out familiar voices and opinions, we stay in our neighborhoods and workplaces, even internet communities.  Whatever the reasons for protest (and believe me, in a crowd of 60,000 people the range of opinions is vast), this event has created a huge sense of community.  And a sense of responsibility--to each other, to the folks who disagree, to the rest of the country which is facing similar circumstances. 

Last week I despaired about what would happen to our state if all of the plans of our governor come to pass.  Now? I have such a renewed respect for the people of Wisconsin.  No matter what happens, the character of our community is evident.  And this cynic has a greater opinion of people in general. 

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  1. Great, Sara. Thanks for that perspective.


  2. Great post. These are going to be very challenging years for both WI and ME. I'll be at a rally here on Monday I hope.

    Maybe it will help me out of my funk, I am feeling like a stranger in a strange land these days.

  3. Thanks :) I know how you feel.

    I do hope the events here helped with the debate in other states going through the same things. Good luck in ME.


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