Something’s Happening Here
February 19, 2011 3:11 PM
I'm starting to get the sense that what's happening on the streets of downtown Madison right now could be the beginning of a necessary national conversation, and in the end, that conversation might turn out alright.
I just got back from a couple of hours on the Capitol Square where supporters of Governor Scott Walker and opponents of his proposals were gathered in protest and counter protest. There were easily tens of thousands of people all around the Square. Those opposing the Walker bill far outnumbered supporters. There were signs and chants, but police report no incidents as of mid-afternoon.
This is consistent with what I've witnessed all week. I've spent a couple of hours each day on the Square and in the Capitol Building to get a feel for what's going on and, of course, I've been watching the news reports both local and national. It's clear that Madison is the focal point right now of a national conversation about the future of democracy. The protests that started with collective bargaining have spilled over into related issues of social justice and democratic process.
It's a spirited debate in the Madison spirit. Passionate and strong but with a sense of levity too. My favorite protest sign so far: "I Blame Brett Favre."
This is a national family conversation we've been putting off, but it has to happen, and it's starting to happen right here in Madison. The conversation has been fierce, articulate, loud, and civil.
We have to work out our differences and stay together as a nation. There has to be compromise in the air somewhere. But first we all have to be heard. And the hearing seems to be starting right here at home. This is what democracy looks like.