This week at TheNation.com we continue to bring you the inspiring developments from Madison, where crowds at the capitol have swelled in opposition to Governor Walker’s assault on workers’ fundamental democratic rights. As correspondent John Nichols reports, the capitol could see well-over 100,000 protesters in response to Friday’s news that the Republican-dominated Assembly passed the measure that would deal a crippling blow to unions in the state and throughout the country.
In the face of mounting state budget deficits, at least ten other states are considering legislation that would either gut benefits to public workers or eliminate outright their ability to participate in the outcome of their economic future. But don’t be fooled. As I argued earlier this week in the Washington Post, such coordinated and well-funded union-busting has more to do with power and the future of basic democratic rights than with balancing state budgets. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman aptly notes (invoking Nation columnist Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine):
“What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab–an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.”
Despite today’s vote, the battle remains far from over. The spirit of Madison is sweeping the country. Saturday, hundreds of thousands will take to the streets across the country for a national Day of Action. “Save the American Dream” rallies, organized by groups like MoveOn, Campaign for America’s Future and others are calling on activists to turn out at Capitols and show their support for public employees in Wisconsin and working people everywhere. US Uncut, a nascent grassroots movement inspired by a recent article by Johann Hari in The Nation, is organizing actions targeting corporate tax-dodgers, and staging protests against Bank of America, which received $45 billion in government bailout funds while funneling its tax dollars into 115 separate offshore tax havens. Be sure to read my colleague Peter Rothberg’s latest post on how you can get involved tomorrow and join in this remarkable moment of protest.
Earlier this week, Reverend Jesse Jackson declared in Madison, “This is a Martin Luther King Moment!” He joined us this afternoon to reflect on his experience traveling to Madison and Columbus, Ohio. He reminded us that Dr. King fought hard to “build a floor for working people.” For those who would seek to gut that floor, the Reverend says to us, “Resist!”