Public Workers Protest in Madison, Wisconsin

Since Monday, public workers, union members and activists, supporters of public workers, most Democrats, and those opposed to Governor Scott Walker have federated at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin to evince their strong dissatisfaction with his proposed Budget Repair Bill. The dominant reason why many people in Wisconsin and across the nation are protesting Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill is it makes significant changes to collective bargaining rights and dramatically reduces the power of unions in the state. Governor Walker contends that with a projected budget deficit of $3.6 billion it’s necessary to make changes to the costs of unions in the state, the costs of collective bargaining in the state, and the costs of benefits and expenses that are currently paid for by the Wisconsin taxpayers for state public workers. Many union members argue that it’s not about the money, but about the Governor Walker’s stripping of the ability of workers’ right to collectively bargain. I’m sure you have read, saw, and/or heard something about this issue and the reason for the protesting at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Here’s a little more about the situation here:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110216/ap_on_re_us/us_wisconsin_budget_unions. The dominant purpose of my article is to give an account of my experience with interviewing protestors at the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday night, February 17, 2011.

Since I’m in the city where we are witnessing some pretty important historical protests and legislation, I thought the readers of Revolutionary Paideia would like to read some of the views of the people about the Budget Repair Bill who were at the capitol. I decided to engage in some discourse with some of the people who were assembled there. I asked the following queries: Do you support the Budget Repair Bill? Did you vote for Governor Scott Walker? If you don’t support the Budget Repair Bill, then what is your solution(s) to the massive state budget deficit? My goal was to have them to not simply be out there protesting without having alternatives to the proposed bill. For me, it’s not meaningful to simply protest without offering alternatives as solutions.

One University of Wisconsin-Madison junior who voted against Governor Walker contended that the Budget Repair Bill is a “manufactured crisis that the Governor cooked up to bust up unions and end the rights of workers in the state to collectively bargain.” This student said that “the worst thing that we could do right now is take money, rights, and protections away from the poorest public workers in the state.” He proposed solution to the state deficit problem is to “raise taxes on the rich citizens in Wisconsin, impose a 10% internet tax, and begin to invest more in small businesses.”

An unemployed White man who did not vote for Governor Scott Walker supports the Budget Repair Bill. He said, “It’s time out for kicking budget deficit after budget deficit down from one governor to the next. I’m proud of Scott Walker for having the balls to help us to become fiscally responsible and get Wisconsin back to work.”

A White female public school teacher who voted against Governor Scott Walker said that she did not support Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. She said that “the best thing to do right now is to work on recalling the governor and recalling the seven republicans in the state senate who we can get out of there and hold up this bill from ever seeing the light of day. I don’t want to offer you any specific solutions, but I do want to offer to you that collective bargaining has nothing to do with our state budget and that cutting the pay of public workers is only going to drive down the economy. If you want a solution, we can get rid of Scott Walker and replace him with a new governor who will go line by line and make appropriate cuts. We should not make cuts that are going to harm people who don’t make nothing already. This man is going to destroy our state. We must recall him and recall other republicans asap.”

A White male small business owner who held a sign in support of Governor Scott Walker said that “Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill is a historic piece of legislation that will get Wisconsin back to work and will end the burden to our state economy that unions place on it. This state just imposes unions on you. You don’t have a choice here. Thank God for Governor Walker because the days of union thugs, big government, and high taxes are over. Welcome back Wisconsin! I enthusiastically support the Budget Repair Bill and Governor Walker.”

The aforementioned statements are just some of what the people I interviewed at the capitol had to say about Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. I interviewed a number of other people supporting the bill and opposed to it. These previously mentioned people and statements are representative of the larger feedback I received. I’m glad to see people actively engaged in the political process. This protesting on the capitol is what democracy looks like in action—like it or not.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Same-day Voter Registration

Black People Voting

I contend that allowing voters to register and vote on the same day as election day in all states will have a significant impact on improving voter turnout. For those of us who have moved from state to state, it should be a little less burdensome to register to vote than some states make it for us to do. I very much appreciate the same-day voter registration that is available in the state of Wisconsin. If we want more people to participate in the political process and vote, then we need to make it much easier for them to be able to participate and vote. Of course, we will need to make sure that the people are legal residents of the state and meet all other voter eligibility requirements, but we need to make sure that we make registering to vote much easier.

I would like to see us experiment with online voter registration. We should not be so fearful of illegal people being able to vote that we make it more complex for truly eligible voters to register.

I was happy to see the great enthusiasm that the people in the state of Wisconsin and across the nation showed in the 2010 midterm election today. I was also glad to see many people participating in early voting and using absentee ballots. Exercising your right to vote is such an important thing. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote does not count. Don’t listen to any silly talk from people who say that voting is not an important act because it is.

Once we go and cast our votes, we cannot simply stop there. We must hold the politicians accountable for making sure that they do what they said they were going to do, and we must make sure that they always do what’s in our best interest—not in their own best interest. Never take for granted the free and fair elections that we have in America, because not all countries get to enjoy the great freedom we get to exercise when we vote. I appreciate everyone who went out and exercised his or her right to vote in the 2010 midterm election. May God bless you and may He continue to bless the United States of America!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Introducing Me and My Blog’s Purpose

Hello, All:

My name is Antonio Maurice Daniels, Ph.D. student and Research Associate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My primary research interests are African-American male college student-athletes, African-American male students throughout the educational pipeline, and ecological sustainability in higher and postsecondary education.

For my first blog, I wanted to start with explaining the purpose of my blog. The purpose of my blog is to serve as an extension of my purpose in life: to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse. This blog will be a venue for sharing information and ideas. If you are looking for discussions about serious issues, this will certainly be a place where you will be quite satisfied. I look forward to engaging with you on a constellation of diverse topics.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison