How the Wisconsin Labor Protests Changed Politics

Monday, February 13, 2012

Demonstrators protest in the capitol rotunda after they were given a deadline by the police to leave the building on February 27, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Scott Olson/Getty)

In response to the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill that sought to end collective bargaining, thousands of people throughout Wisconsin protested Governor Scott Walker and what they saw as a violation of their rights. At its peak, 100,000 people had congregated at the State Capitol in opposition. Though the bill eventually passed the state legislature, seemingly overnight, a movement was born. And it didn't end in Wisconsin — the critical mass that began in the Midwest quickly spread to nearly every state in the country, taking the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

John Nichols is a Madison-based journalist and author of the new book, “UPRISING: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest from Madison to Wall Street.”


John Nichols

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja

Comments [3]

bob from SI

Dittos to Charles, Plus no mention how the recalls of the legislature did not work or how the law is working or Gov Walker's speech to CPAC.

Feb. 13 2012 03:02 PM

Had The Takeaway hosted a reporter who was an equivalent cheerleader for the Republicans in Wisconsin, I expect that public radio's self-selected left-leaning audience might have gone into meltdown.

Let's review, shall we?

The reform of public employee unionism is a nationawide trend. Not just Wisconsin and Ohio, but Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee, Idaho... and let's not forget the widely-ignored reforms of benefits and funding in New York and Rhode Island, passed by Democrats. More Democrat enclaves are facing the same pressures; Illinois (and Chicago in particular), California, the District of Columbia.

Wisconsin is a special case simply because it is such a narrowly-divided state and national political strategists in the Democratic party and their collegaues in organized labor decided to make Wisconsin a battleground.

So when Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser was challenged for re-election by Madison attorney Joanne Kloppenberg, outside money poured into the state supporting Kloppenberg, as Democrats thought they might be able to get the state's highest court to reverse what the legislature and the governor had done. When the 2011 recall attmepts came up, outside labor unions outspent Republicans by about 2 to 1.

So don't tell us about "corporatist" or other outside campaign spending for Republicans.

John Nichols made the dubious statement that "more than a million" signatures have been turned in on recall petitions; that is a disputed figure, since no count has as yet taken place.

I am not merely bothered, but in fact insulted, by John Hockenberry's apparent glee in supporting John Nichols' intended message, that the Wisconsin protests are great demonstrations of popular Democracy. I see the opposite, and I am astonished at the credulity of John Hockenberry in this segment. Wisconsin had a clean and fair election; Scott Walker and the legislative Republicans won, handily. Wisconsin Senate Democrats then not only abandoned their legislative posts; they fled the state in an effort to bring all Senate activity to a halt by denying a quorum. I can only imagine how public radio would have covered Republicans if they had pulled a similar stunt in a Blue State like Illinois or New York.

And now, what we see in Wisconsin is NOT an alarming conglomeration of corporate power. We see local governments balancing their budgets; we see national labor unions acting as outside special interests to influence Wisconsin elections. We see the Walker reforms working, and the dubious nature of the 'Recall Walker' campaign is exposed.

Just think of what a one-sided story this is, and how little attention has been paid to the Republican/Walker side of this debate on this program. Our public radio system, hard at work.

Feb. 13 2012 10:56 AM

So "Boiling Mad" is about the law abiding and economically prescient Tea Party and "Uprising" about an arrest prone, violent and gross acting out against the rule of law and democratic institutions?

Is what's "churning across this country" the same thing churning in Greece right now from whom we have apparently learned nothing as they show what happens when the money runs out.
The Egypt / Wisconsin comparisons are just further evidence that even the supporters of these tantrums do not take their own movement seriously.

Feb. 13 2012 09:43 AM

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