Sunday, May 3, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Passion continues at the Wisconsin state Capitol

MarionFranckW

By
April 29, 2011 |

What surprised me when I went back to Madison, Wis., this week is that there are still protestors circling the Capitol.

Right now should be a lull. It has been almost two months since Governor Walker signed his law to gut collective bargaining, and it will be six months before signatures can be legally gathered to recall him.

Based on my own experience, I expected things to have settled down. I was a graduate student in Madison during the last years of the Vietnam War. It was a time of long-term protests, but I and most of my friends didn’t participate.

Was I focused on school? Did I believe that anything I did would be ineffectual? Do I still think that way?

————

Today’s Madison is not complacent. I saw many signs in people’s windows and on their lawns and cars. People still talk often about Governor Walker and what comes next.

I visited the Capitol. Within seconds, I saw my first four protestors, followed by other small groups carrying signs. The signs were mostly hand-lettered, as before. Some protesters wore union T-shirts and buttons.

I approached a friendly-looking threesome about my age and asked how often they come and how long they march.

“I’m a rabid volunteer,” laughed the woman, “I try to come every day.” She and the man next to her usually march for five to six hours. Their companion, laid-off, doesn’t stay quite as long.

“We’re retired,” she said, “but we could do plenty of other things. We choose to come here.”

They drive 20 miles each way.

“After we’d been coming for a while, we started recognizing people. We decided to learn names.” Now the circling protestors greet each other by first name and share food and conversation. At noon some go into the capitol and sing.

This being Wisconsin, winter lingers. There has been frequent rain, even snow.

I asked several other people why they were still there.

One talked about her conviction and said, “The other side doesn’t understand how deeply motivated we are.” Another explained, “Our legislator said it’s good for us to stay out here. Keep the pressure on.” A third went off about being superior to Sarah Palin’s supporters who, she claimed, came because they were paid.

What I wanted to know was: Are these people incredibly passionate, or are they some kind of lunatic fringe?

My question was difficult to answer. One woman told me about a law in Michigan that was making her furious. I had never heard of the law (sorry, I can’t recall it now) and I don’t know if her information was credible. It sounded a bit like ranting.

Another volunteer had taken on an unglamorous but very rational assignment: data entry. She collects the names of people who support a gubernatorial recall but will need to be re-contacted during the 60-day window for gathering signatures that begins in November.

One woman in a bright green T-shirt circled alone banging a drum. Her words were memorable.

“When this whole thing started, I felt as if I’d been beaten up in an alley and left to die. It feels sinister to me. Especially the governor’s lack of compassion.”

She showed me how loud her drum could sound when she hit it hard. “We’re not going away. We may be peaceful, but we’re not wimpy.”

In our last moments together, she put her hand on her chest and said, “Heart to heart, soul to soul, we are all connected.”

I believe that — sort of — but you’ll never catch me saying it out loud.

Lastly, I met and talked to Joanne Juhnke, a part-time university librarian, who told me about her family and later sent me links to her blog posts, which were well-written.

From the earliest announcement of Walker’s plans, Juhnke focused on one less-heralded aspect of his legislation that severely affected her family: proposed new rules for Wisconsin Medicaid. As the parent of two daughters, one with autism, she is very concerned about health care.

She doesn’t march every day. She doesn’t march long hours. But she comes with her sign about Medicaid and tries to educate people.

She describes herself as deeply changed by recent events.

It began by accident the first week, she said. She had already focused on the Medicaid part of the problem and on the first day of overnights at the capitol — when thousands of people crowded into the rotunda — a friend said to her “Come, tell the crowd.”

Junhke climbed onto a barrel, took a bullhorn in her hand for the first time and spoke. She had never imagined herself doing such a thing. She belongs to the Menonnite Church, a religious community I think of as modest and unassuming, although they have a strong commitment to peace.

“I went from being a mild-mannered librarian,” she told me, “to being comfortable standing on a barrel speaking through a megaphone to a huge crowd.”

————

Events are happening in Wisconsin that may soon play out on a national level, where the attempt to end collective bargaining may re-empower and re-motivate people working to elect Democrats.

I am learning that events play out on a personal level, too, some of it bordering on irrational, some of it touching and profound.

Madison teaches me, even now, that if you care about the wider society, sometimes you should put in more time.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at [email protected] Her column appears Sundays

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Breaking barriers: For Prieto, it’s all about hard work

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Council to hear about drought pricing

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Peaceful Baltimore demonstrators praise top prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Nigeria: Nearly 300 freed women, children led to safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Graveyard thefts land three Woodlanders behind bars

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

    Downtown altercation leads to injuries

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

     
    Woman arrested for brandishing knife on overpass

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Yolo DA launches monthly newsletter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Can plants talk? UCD prof will answer that question

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    A Scottish setting for local author’s next book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Free beginner yoga class offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Video discusses surveillance of prostate cancer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    NAMI support group meets May 10

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Dr. G featured on the radio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Fee proposed on rail cars that haul oil, other flammables

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Internships move UCD doctoral students beyond academia

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Make Mom a warm vanilla sugar scrub

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    The secret to Mother’s Day gifting success: Give time, not stuff

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Letter book is series of collected missives thanking Mom

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    If your mom fancies something fancy, consider a tea party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Out of Africa and back to Davis: James Carey will give special presentation

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Big Day of Giving makes philanthropy easy

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Tuleyome Tales: How are a snake and a mushroom alike?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    Tuleyome hosts Snow Mountain camping trip

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    End of life doesn’t mean life must end

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Advancing education for California’s former foster youths

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    With sincere gratitude

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    A wonderful day of service

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Please help Baltimore

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Eyewitness to the ‘fall’ of Vietnam: It was not a bloodbath

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5 | Gallery

    He can’t give it up

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

     
     
    Dangers from prescription pills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    UCD softball splits with Titans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Trifecta of Devil teams open playoffs Tuesday

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Defending champ DHS clinches a baseball playoff berth

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Making memories at Aggie Stadium

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: DHS boys win to reach lacrosse playoffs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie women speed past Hornets

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: Hudson pitches Giants past Angels

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Arcadia partners on soybean trait to improve yield

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Marrone opens new greenhouse

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    New firm helps students on path to college

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A8

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, May 3, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8