Dedicated activists in Quebec have received much praise for their 100+ days of straight protest, and deservedly so, but there is another movement—right here in the United States—that has remained vigilant for 478 days.
In Madison, Wisconsin, pro-union protesters occupied the Capitol rotunda and the surrounding property, and committed themselves to a twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week effort to recall Governor Scott Walker.
Last night, that effort fell short, but rather than sitting around, feeling sorry for themselves, some activists say they are ready to continue fighting for their causes.
“It will be a struggle but we are not going to give up,” said Craig Spaulding of Madison, who demonstrated often at the Capitol.
He says the fight to restore collective-bargaining powers for state workers continues.
“Many people have said there’s this recall fatigue setting in and we won’t be able to keep up this intensity but we will, we will for the rest of our lives,” he said.
Other observers, many of them Occupy Wall Street activists, have called for more radical change, partly because the institutions—the Democratic Party and elections—that historically housed the left have proven themselves to either be inadequate or hopelessly corrupt.
For example, Mother Jones posted a disturbing chart showing the difference in out-of-state contributions between the two parties. Challenger Tom Barrett (D) received 26 percent of his $3.9 million in total donations from out-of-state contributors, whereas Governor Walker received a total of $30.5 million, 66 percent of which came from out-of-state sources.
When out-of-state anti-union parties obliterate the autonomy of a state—strange, considering conservatives believe so deeply in those states’ rights—and the Democratic Party remains largely complicit in the gutting of public sector unions, where are pro-union protesters to go?
Their choices in the election booth are bleak.
Walker’s challenger, Tom Barrett (D), surrendered the narrative early on to Walker when he stated he was not labor’s candidate. Ditto on austerity. Even though Wisconsin’s corporations are taxed at a rate below the national average, Barrett never challenged Walker’s rationale that the state is “out of money.”
As a result, Democratic voters were experiencing some serious ennui about their candidate. 47 percent of Barrett’s backers said their vote was more against Walker than it was for Barrett.
As for voters, the hostility toward unions (52 percent of voters polled said they supported the changes to the collective bargaining law), can easily be explained by the facts that fewer people than ever belong to unions, and Democrats have joined in on the union-bashing, oftentimes embracing the same “special interests” narrative first shaped by the right.