It seems like an eternity since all 14 of Wisconsin’s Democratic senators abandoned their duty in a mad dash across the border into Illinois. The antics of the runaway senators were little more than a silly diversion from the angry protests that had descended upon the capitol during the first few days of their self-imposed exile. As the days slowly passed, the initial bemusement over the “fleebaggers” gave way to a feeling of resentment which then grew into genuine contempt among the hard-working taxpayers of the Dairy State.
Unlike the self-serving public sector union protesters and their hard left allies, the good people of Wisconsin did not storm the district offices of their wayward senators nor did they email death threats in a morally bankrupt attempt to subvert the democratic process through intimidation. Across the state, the beleaguered taxpayers began grassroots recall campaigns against all eight Democratic senators who had served the requisite year in office required by law.
Not to be outdone by the legitimate recall efforts of the people, the Democrats (who deny any involvement) countered with a well-organized campaign of their own. The MacIver News Service obtained an advertisement posted on a Washington, D.C.-area website which was recruiting activists to serve as “field organizers” for recall campaigns against Republican senators in eight Wisconsin districts. This central planning brand of astroturf seems particularly well-suited for the dietary needs of their sacred cows in the public sector unions.
On Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of assisting the “Recall Wirch” petition effort at a “drive through” location in Kenosha. Having heard first-hand accounts of well-organized union obstruction at a number of sites the previous weekend, I was prepared for the worst. Upon arriving at the vacant gas station which served as our site, I was relieved that everything looked calm and orderly. The morning team gave our small group clipboards, petitions, instructions, and encouragement before heading home for the day.
Our greatest challenge during the four hours we manned the “drive through” didn’t come from protesters, but rather the strong gusts of wind which chilled us to the bone and periodically blew over one of our large “Recall Wirch” signs. During our shift we encountered only three anti-taxpayer protesters (in the most general sense) who screamed a variety of incoherent insults and expletives which were met with smiles, waves, and somewhat less than genuine replies such as “thanks for your comments” and “have a nice day.” We were all amused by their boisterous rants, as if somehow volume could compensate for their sheer lack of lucid engagement or substance.
Many people traveling that stretch of Highway 50 honked their horns, waved, or gave us a thumbs up. Every so often, those with ears who can’t hear attempted to communicate through sign language of a different sort: apparently they wanted us to know that we are number 1 — at least, that’s what their middle finger seemed to indicate.
The steady stream of friendly folks who drove through our location to sign the recall petition kept us all warm on an otherwise gray and chilly day. Many were just passing by and spotted the “Recall Wirch” signs and the giant milk carton featuring the picture of the 22nd district’s missing senator, which had been built by some of the talented volunteers who are helping to lead this grassroots effort. Other friends of representative government found our location through the “Recall Wirch” website and came to lend their support. All were most welcome.
Our recall supporters were a diverse group comprised of all races and age groups. I was surprised that a number of African-Americans lent their support to our recall petition drive. It seems that the best efforts of the mainstream media to play the race card in Wisconsin have failed to sway the well-informed. Meanwhile, back in Madison, the far more homogeneous mob of protesters welcome the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his old rhetoric with open arms.
About halfway through our shift, I met a gentleman who really put our effort in perspective. During my conversation with “Dave,” he told me that he was a Marine and that he lost his left leg while serving in Vietnam. Dave said, “I didn’t get my leg blown off fighting the Viet Cong so I could pay taxes to support a senator who turns tail and runs away like a damn coward!” Dave continued to tell it like it is when he said, “These damn protesters in Madison remind me of the spoiled college punks who screwed us during Vietnam, and I can tell you first hand the Cong loved them.”
We talked a while longer and when he was ready to leave he gave me a firm hand shake and looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want to thank you and your friends for taking the time to collect these petitions. I really appreciate what you are doing!”
That was a truly humbling experience. We need to win this battle for all of the “Daves” who have paid for the freedom that we enjoy with their own blood.