Were the protests against Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill a "revolution," as some have said? We got our answer tonight, after the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill limiting public employees' right to collectively bargain.
The answer is no.
Protesters did not break down the Capitol doors to overthrow the uncompromising Republicans. Instead, they gathered for a rally at the top of State Street and gave passionate speeches about…the democratic process.
"We now need to channel our energy to the ballot boxes!" said Rep. Peter Barca.
Speakers took the legislative loss in stride, acknowledging a setback. "It's a football game," said Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin. "We have to give up six points."
But that's all he, or anyone else, was prepared to give up. Every speaker, from Jesse Jackson to state AFL-CIO president Phil Neuenfeldt, urged the crowd to seek democratic remedies for the Republicans' actions. These include registering, educating citizens, voting in the April 5 election for state Supreme Court, and recalling legislators.
"Now is the time to organize like we've never organized before!" said machinist Yolanda Pillsbury.
As marchers circled the Capitol, the rally ended with a John Lennon song. No, not "Revolution," but "Power to the People."