Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Rally in Support of Wisconsin and Public Sector Workers Everywhere

We might be a backwards little town in the middle of nowhere. We might be located in the Bible Belt. We might belong to a very conservative area of the country that keeps voting Republican for no discernible reason. Today, however, we gathered to conduct our own rally in support of the protesters in Wisconsin.
 I started taking pictures before the rally began, so there are not that many people around at this point. A lot more people joined us as the rally began. Altogether, I'd say there were between 250 and 300 people. Obviously, I didn't interrupt the speeches by running around with my cell phones, taking pictures. 
There were steel workers, teamsters, carpenters, teachers, healthcare workers, retirees. Hardworking, modestly dressed people who believe that there is no democracy without the people's right to enter into collective bargaining to improve their work conditions.
 "We are the middle class," said many of the speakers. These are mostly people of my parents' age who have seen their standard of living decline and the hopes of their children and grandchildren diminish. "I want to make sure that my son and grandson have the same rights and benefits that I did as a union member," said a steel worker.
"This is what democracy looks like!" chanted everybody at the end, echoing the rallying slogan of Wisconsin's protesters. "Welcome to the workers' revolution!" a young union organizer exclaimed. Everybody cheered.

Today, I finally felt that I belong in this town.

P.S. Whenever I turn on the television, I see programs dedicated to some Charlie Sheen character who seems to have gotten himself into some excruciatingly boring trouble. Finding reports of protests across the country is not as easy. We need to cover them ourselves, people. Go to your local rallies, tweet, blog, Facebook, do whatever you need to get the word out. 

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