Three weeks have gone by, and finally I’ve figured out what I think. I know, I know. I’m slow to process such things. There were many who would gladly have digested the experience for me, but I resisted. This was big. Huge even. I had to figure it out for myself, even if it took me, well, a few weeks.
First, I’m furious. Second, if I had it all to do over again, I would. Gladly. And I hope you would too.
Of course, I’m still furious at the Fitzwalker weasels for all the damage they’re doing to our beloved state. But I’m also furious that Obama tweeted his “support” in the eleventh hour, that the DNC’s idea of “support” was to come to Wisconsin to squeeze more money out of people who’d already given their hearts and souls and more money than they could afford to the recall effort, not to mention the money the Fitzwalkers have already stolen from them. They threw us under the goddamned bus.
The DNC treated the Wisconsin Recall like it was a marginal little regional dispute. The RNC, on the other hand, treated it like it was the front line of an epic battle, a warm-up for November. I wonder how the DNC would like it if we tweeted our support on November 5. (Don’t worry—I’ll hold my nose and vote for O, but only because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.)
Three weeks of grieving. I keep thinking of all of you who worked so incredibly hard. Collecting signatures in the freezing cold. Organizing and canvassing and connecting and generally working your asses off. The result is so bitter, so hard to swallow.
Our state has been occupied by greedy corporate plunderers who believe the 1% are more worthy than the rest of us, who care nothing for our children’s future, for the unemployed, for students and teachers, for our health, for our state’s precious natural resources, for truth and transparency.
Not only is the result hard to accept. It’s hard to believe it’s legit. Regardless of whether there was outright fraud or just a gross billionaire-funded burial of the state in outsize lies and propaganda, or both, the system is rigged.
We the people have been subsumed by them the corporations.
In spite of the outcome, in spite of how hard it is to accept, it was the right thing to do. In fact, it’s still the right thing to do. We need not apologize for having attempted to rid Wisconsin of its weasel infestation. We didn’t fail. We were failed—by a rigged system and by the milquetoast pseudo support of Obama and the DNC.
That we didn’t succeed only means that resistance is more essential than ever. The weasels are ruthless, organized, and loaded with dirty billionaire dough. As Robert Kraig so rightly observed, “A movement is not something that can be defeated by one election. … It bears remembering that the modern conservative movement was established out of the ashes of a decisive electoral defeat, Barry Goldwater’s landslide presidential loss in 1964.”
A little voice in my head keeps saying, “Don’t mourn! Organize!” But I can’t tell you not to mourn, as I am doing my own mourning. But I will tell you to organize.
What does it take to organize? Nothing fancy or complicated. Just friends, community, and learning. By “friends,” I mean strong, lasting, deep friendships that you can count on when your back is up against the wall. Real community happens when every member counts, every member has a voice, every member is worthy of care and respect. A community cultivates cooperation, understanding, and confidence, in each other and in our leaders, even and especially when we don’t agree.
We have only just begun to build solidarity, and in spite of how often or loudly we chant otherwise, we don’t always know what democracy looks like. But we are learning. And we must continue to learn, to educate ourselves and each other. To give ourselves and each other the benefit of the doubt, and to forgive ourselves and each other when necessary.
We have to keep raising our voices, in defiance of the cacophony of the corporate mass media and the rabid right spin machine. We have to keep resisting, to keep singing. Thanks to a stalwart band of determined activists, the Solidarity Sing Along continues to be an important point of daily resistance, as well as an important point of community learning and organizing. We’re still putting the Fitzwalker weasels on notice: We’re still here. We’re not going away.
We can’t stop now. We’re only just getting started.
Many thanks to Leslie Amsterdam for use of her photo (top).