I've spent 24 hours trying to edit a diary of yesterday's 100,000 + rally, and I just can't find the words. It feels foolish to try to describe what it's like to disappear into a huge unified crowd filled with positive energy. Tonight we have seen the capitol protesters unite with police officers who refused to arrest or remove them. We have received word (still not directly confirmed, but likely true) that Senator Dale Schultz will no longer support the bill. It's a huge moment for this movement; probably the biggest since the "Fab 14" split town with nary but a "brb." This should be a moment of overwhelming joy.
And I'm pissed off.
I'm angry at all of the people I see responding to this news in one of two ways:
1) ZOMG ITZA WALKER TRICK!
2) Yeah! Victory! Keep going until the GOP no longer exists!
The first is just moronic. We can only win this thing with facts; that's what's on our side. Let's think about the actual facts for a moment.
A. Sen. Schultz is already being targeted by the teabaggers as a RINO because he suggested a compromise measure on this bill that went over like a lead balloon with both sides. He's already going to face a primary challenge next time 'round.
B. Sen. Schultz cannot on his own trigger a Democrat return. They will only return if the vote is not a foregone conclusion. Without three GOP votes against it, it will pass. If three GOP senators come out against it, the governor will pull it from consideration to avoid a humiliating floor vote. Pulling the vote cuts him off at the knees; losing it would castrate him. There is nothing for anyone to gain by pulling some kind of "trick" with this.
The second one is often stated in the same thought pattern as the first, but it's far more insidious and dangerous for this movement. Our entire fight these two weeks has been that decisions like these should be reached with debate, sacrifice, and compromise. As I've stated in earlier diaries, the most humbling thing about being a part of these protests is the sheer diversity of the crowd.
I'm certain there are some evangelical Christians in there. (Hell, there are members of the clergy in the capitol right now!)
I'm certain there are some anti-abortion folks in there.
I know for a fact there are some fiscal conservatives in the group.
I'm certain there are people against gay marriage in the group.
And you know what? I happen to think all of the above positions are immoral, but I've been nothing but proud to march next to the people who hold them. I'm willing to spend my life arguing that my gay friends deserve the same recognition I do, and that a woman's right to her own body is sacrosanct.
But none of that erases the feeling of unity I have felt over these past weeks. If three GOP senators join us against this bill, I will honor them because they will be speaking up in favor of compromise instead of hyperpartisanship. I will be proud they are (like I am) public servants of the state of Wisconsin. And then I will then go back to convincing them that they're wrong about all the other stuff.
If anyone one the left gives in to hyperpartisanship, they are part of the problem instead of its solution. If we ever allow ourselves to think that everyone on the other side is irretrievably alien, we will be fighting for something that doesn't exist. If we adopt the rhetoric of the Tea Party but only change the bullet points, we are the same as them.
If we win this fight, Wisconsin wins. If we win in Wisconsin, we help other states to win. If we truly believe that what we want is best for the state, we must rejoice in the name of the whole state. If we cheer that we've vanquished an unholy enemy force, we aren't worthy of the victory.
If you give in to that rhetoric, make no mistake: I am your political opposition. You will be making cheap all that we've tried to do here in Madison (and around the country). We may agree on every issue, but I will stand against you if you can't recognize the difference between your opposition and your enemy.
My father was a republican, after all, and he was one of the best men I've ever known. If you tell me he was evil, I'll know you're a liar.