The hundred-thousand-plus crowd that filled downtown Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend is being touted as an answer to the Tea Party rallies that cropped up around the country last year. The pro-labor Madison crowds were larger than any of the Tea Party rallies last year, including the one hosted by Fox personality Glenn Beck in Washington in 2009.
ThinkProgress reported that the protests in response to “Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) assault on unions” were the largest in state history.
“[Y]esterday’s rally in Madison is noteworthy because at 85,000-100,000, it was bigger than the biggest tea party protest, the September 12, 2009 rally in Washington, D.C., which turned out only an estimated 60,000-70,000…. For two years, tea party activists and their allies in the GOP have claimed that the hard-right movement represents the true beliefs of the American people. But the crowd in Madison and numerous polls tell a different story.”
Video of a speech given this weekend in Madison by farmer Tony Schultz is gaining internet traction for the impassioned case Schultz makes for small-business owners and labor unions, tying together the fate of agricultural, industrial and professional workers.
Earlier, at the other end of the country, blockbuster horror fiction author Stephen King at a small union protest in Florida mocked the Wisconsin Governor and the “trickle down” arguments he and other Republicans have made in support of tax breaks for the rich.
“As a rich person, I pay 28 percent tax… Why am I not paying 50 [percent]? … The Republicans will tell you that we can’t do that because if you tax guys like me there won’t be any jobs. It’s bull. It’s total bull,” King said.
A notable feature of the Wisconsin protests has been the way Fox News has struggled to report on them. “Fox News lies” has been the refrain repeated by the Madison crowds in the background as Fox reporters attempt to file live dispatches from the city. Fox reporter Mike Tobin didn’t help his network any with claims that he suffered physical assault at the hands of protesters, a claim his newsroom colleagues were eager to seize upon but that turned out to be pathetically exaggerated. Video tape taken by members of the crowd revealed the “assault” as a tap on the shoulder.
The Washington Post reports Monday that the Wisconsin Democratic Party effort to recall the Republican lawmakers backing Gov. Walker’s union-busting leadership is moving along ahead of schedule.
Dems have now collected over 45 percent of the signatures necessary to hold recall elections for eight GOP state senators…[They have] collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from roughly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.
In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the allotted time remaining.