Upon entering the capitol, visitors are greeted by a large sign explaining all the items they are forbidden to carry in. Someone unfamiliar with the February protests would be flummoxed as to why some of these items show up on the list, but the list itself tells the story of what happened when hundreds of protesters took up residence in the statehouse a few months ago. Among the verboten items: snakes, crockpots, massage chairs, mattresses, and balloons, plus a catch-all (“… other items that may be considered inconsistent with a plan to depart the building at the posted closing time or whose use is considered a threat to public health or safety”).
In the capitol rotunda, around 100 people are gathered, watching the beginning of the assembly session on large monitors that have been set up for their benefit. At the height of the protest, over 6,000 people were reported to be crammed into this space. Resident irritant and multiple-arrestee Jeremy Ryan, who has earned the sobriquet “Segway Guy,” slowly makes his way around the crowd perched atop his two-wheel mobility device.
Soon, three men wearing pink tunics appear. “We Are Walker’s Pink Slips!” they begin chanting loudly. “If you have to chant what your protest costume is, it’s probably not a good one,” cracks a nearby lobbyist.
At noon, the crowd is joined by the “Solidarity Singers,” a group which congregates every day to sing at the top of their lungs in the rotunda. Last week, an American Red Cross blood drive had to leave the capitol because of the irritating cacophony produced by the singers. A woman weaves her way through the crowd, handing out song books so everyone can sing along. The books include many union favorites, tailored to the Wisconsin struggle. (For instance, “We Shall Overcome” now apparently references the effort to recall Scott Walker.)
This may be what democracy looks like, albeit mob democracy. It’s not what a Republic looks like. Here’s to continued failure of the left to subvert the laws of Wisconsin, and to it as a harbinger of failure across the nation.