From the March-April 2011 issue of News & Letters:
Lansing, Mich.–It was a dreary, overcast, cold day at the Capitol building here on Feb. 26 when over 2,000 came from all over the state to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Driving in from Detroit, one could pick out those heading for the rally by the bumper stickers on their cars.
The sound system was poor, and seeing the speakers was impossible as they were in a little depressed area; the only good thing about the weather was that it wasn’t snowing or blowing. Yet the crowd stuck around, yelling responses to the speakers they could hear, booing at the mention of Republican union-busting efforts under Gov. Rick Snyder: “Recall Rick; No to the Nerd” and “We will not yield!”
The picket signs showed the defiant mood of the crowd. There was a little fellow sitting on his father’s shoulders with a sign that said, “Educate me now or deal with me later”; others proclaimed: “Walk like an Egyptian”; “Here to form a more perfect union, not an oligarchy”; “Tax the Rich”; “Damned Right: It’s Class Warfare” and many more.
People were grateful to the activists in Wisconsin and Cairo for inspiration. There is shock as people realize how much we lost last November and just how far the Republicans are itching to go.
But it was clearly not a crowd looking for total change. For example, when one speaker raised ecological concerns about building more power plants, a workingman in the crowd tried to shout her down, saying, “Power plants mean jobs.” Many speakers and signs called for union protection for the middle class. Very few mentioned what Snyder’s proposed budget will do to the poor. And while some spoke of working families, none mentioned the working class.
Nevertheless, it is a movement from hopelessness to defiance, from despair to action. Hopefully, it’s a wake-up call for those who haven’t yet noticed how seriously the Republican agenda threatens rights that we have long taken for granted.