James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More on Wisconsin rallies

Additional observations from two days of pro-union, pro-middle class rallies in Wisconsin:

* There is one exception to the widely-recognized fact that the national Democratic Party is deliberately uninvolved in what clearly is becoming a fight for the survival of the middle class and of democracy. The party does see it as a fund-raising opportunity: I got an email Monday (March 14) from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). It said that organization is shocked, yes shocked, at the bad behavior of Wisconsin Republicans and that the proper response to such naughtiness is to send the DCCC money.

People, do not fall for that. If you want to contribute to the fight for union rights, for the middle class do not send money to the DCCC or the DSCC or any other Democratic Party organization with the expectation it will be used to fight for Wisconsin workers.

In fact, neither the party nor any of its parts has any special fund for that. Any money you send will simply go into the general coffers, and some of it will be used to support politicians, including right-wing “Democrats” in Congress, who don't give a rats tail for working people or the middle class as a whole. Unless you want your money to go to reelecting the likes of corporation-loving Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson or Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who devotes himself primarily to crushing women's rights, send your contributions to specific politicians you know to be on the right side, or to Wisconsin public employee unions or even, in a pinch, the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

* The numbers you've seen on participation in the rallies and protests in Madison, especially, are too low, but it isn't because of some conspiracy to hide the truth. The Madison police actually have done a good job of estimating the crowds, but there simply is no way to get the numbers right.

While my wife and I searched for a place to park Saturday, and when we finally found one a bit more than half a mile from the Capitol and started to walk to the rally, we saw hundreds of people heading away from the Capitol grounds. It was still almost half an hour before the announced time of the day's rally, and we wondered if we had received bad information. Then I stopped a few people heading away from the Capitol and asked why they were leaving.

They were people who already had been at the Capitol for hours. Some had arrived by mid-morning. They were cold and tired and hungry and figured they'd done their bit. At the same time, there were hundreds more, like us, just heading to the rally. So the cops estimated the crowd at what probably was its peak and came up with 85,000 to 100,000. But people had been coming and going all day, so there is no way to guess at the true total for the day.

* Given the apparent lack of respect for Obama and national Democrats at both Wisconsin rallies I attended over the weekend, I started probing for thoughts about that party and possible alternatives. Every one of the five or six people I questioned -- admittedly a small sample -- indicated that they had been thinking about the possibility of a new liberal party forming.

After a teacher and I talked briefly in Hudson about President Obama's absence from the issue, I asked “if maybe it's time for a new party.” Immediately, without having to pause to think, the woman said, “Oh, yes. Definitely.” Another woman who had been listening to us, also a teacher, nodded her head vigorously.

I don't know, really, what that means for Democrats, but it can't be good for them.