The night that the Wisconsin Senate Republicans got together and forced through Scott Walker’s union-busting bill, many Wisconsinites cried foul. The state’s open-meetings law required more notice unless there was a true emergency.
Last week, a Republican-appointed judge ruled with the protesters that the session that passed the bill may have violated the law, which requires twenty-four-hours’ notice on a vote. Judge Maryann Sumi put a stay on the bill, blocking its implementation. Teachers and other state employees retain their union rights.
The people of Wisconsin, I told the Left Forum on Friday, stopped a steamroller. Their willingness to fight, to keep showing up in greater and greater numbers, not only held off the bill but put the GOP in a place where they were desperate enough that they violated the law. They inspired the fight back in other states—Indiana’s state Democrats are still out of state, holding up a vote on a similar bill.
And Judge Sumi's decision puts paid to all those who say progress is achieved through one set of tactics or another. Voting or protest, law or disobedience—Wisconsin stopped this Walker steamroller through a combination of them all: direct action/legislators' actions/legal challenges/protest and above all organizing.
The fight isn’t over—Republicans plan to appeal the decision, and the legislature has a chance to take up the bill again. Meanwhile, the recall organizing efforts go on, and Walker’s budget makes mincemeat of desperately needed healthcare and education programs in the state. It’s going to take every tactic in the book to turn back the steamroller for good.
But it’s worth it right now, I think, to stop for just a minute and acknowledge what’s happening in this country.
When was the last time you heard about a Tea Party rally?