I joined 1,300 people in the Barrymore Theater last night. This crowd needed absolutely no assistance in warming up. While we waited for start, one audience member in the front in green face paint and a fright wig, stood up to lead the chant “This is what Democracy looks like”, while a cowbell waving member clanged along.
The crowd was noticeably over 30-years-old and mostly white–a demographic that fits with Madison, Wisconsin. However I feel qualified to state that the mix of cultures and styles brought to the Barrymore by the Ed Schultz crowd was uniquely non-elitist and non-cocktail swilling – as the downtown Madison crowd is characterized by the local GOP.
The format of the evening was billed as “town hall” with microphones at either side of he theater, and so I expected to hear hours of testimony. Instead, we heard a series of brief pointed speeches followed by a conversational exploration of the events that have transpired in Wisconsin since February 11 of 2011 when Scott Walker unveiled Wisconsin Act 10.
The crowd was stacked with those absolutely committed to jumping through all of the hoops required to get there – and thus -the energy level they brought to the evening was red hot.
To guarantee entry into this event, hundreds waited in line first at noon, and then again later at 4:30PM, and following, they waited inside the theater. We listened first to John Nichols, Stu Levitan, Ruth Conniff, and a representative from PR Watch, and finally, we saw the man of the hour, Ed Schultz.
Why am I going to summarize this video? I love it. And I know a lot of you don’t have the patience for it and you might not like that constant yelling Ed Schultz does.
Also, it’s a pretty good framework for where things still stand right now between Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Scott “Don’t give a shit about your constitutional rights” Fitzgerald, and the power and energy of the impending recall elections against GOP Senators- recall elections that Scott Fitzgerald suggested he’d try to scuttle with a rule change yesterday.
Walker calls Mark Miller’s letter and offer to meet “ridiculous”.
Walker says he’s assuming that Republican Senator Dale Schultz will vote “no” on his bill, siding with the Democrats. Democrats say they are applying pressure on moderate Republican Senator Mike Ellis.
To accomplish their goal of passing the Governor’s union-busting “budget repair” bill and also the draconian public-education-destroying regular budget bill, Republicans need 1 Democrat to come home and flip. To defeat the Governor’s agenda, the Democrats need 3 Republicans to flip to “no” votes.
Senator Scott Fitzgerald announces that Dem. Senators Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen met with Walker allies. This announcement enrages Senator Jauch who says “Trust is completely broken down now. I don’t believe anything he says. [meaning Republican Senator Scott Fitzgerald]”
At the 1:19 mark, Ed talks with Senator Mark Miller and Senator Lena Taylor. Senator Miller says that in a recent press conference, Governor Walker claimed access to” ‘zero flexibility’. Senator Miller: “…and then he accuses us of not being able to negotiate”.
Senator Miller adds that Walker apparently does not know how to negotiate, and that is one of the reasons he wants to get rid of public bargaining. Miller adds that the ability to negotiate is essential to working in the political arena.
Lena Taylor says that Republican Senator Dale Schultz has pretty much stated that he does not support the bill and wants an amendment to it [to keep collective bargaining rights]. She adds that Republican Senator Ellis has always worked in a practical way and he has a good relationship with Democratic Senator Risser. She says,
“Whose side are they on-those 19 Senators [Republican]? Are they on the side of Wisconsin workers? Or are they on Walker’s side?
Senator Miller calls the recall efforts “basically a do-over of the November election” and credits Governor Walker’s radical agenda for dividing Wisconsin. Senator Taylor adds that if the public were not energized to side with the workers, why would they be lining up around the block to volunteer in recall efforts against Republicans?
Ed Schultz asks, “What if you can’t change minds, how long are you willing to ‘hang in there’ and be absent?” Senator Taylor does not address the question directly. Instead she says,”It’s a question of whose side are you on, on the side of an unpopular governor or on the side of the workers?”
At the 5:08 mark, Senator Lena Taylor (full disclosure: my favorite Senator) closes saying,
“the recalls provide an opportunity for Wisconinites to take this baton and to really do what needs to be done to hold them [Republicans] accountable.” She adds something at the end — the Muhammad Ali style of tough talk I’m needing right about now:
“They’re gonna see ’em now, or they’re gonna hear ’em now, they’re gonna listen to ’em now, or they’re gonna have to deal with ’em later”.