We have lost much but I believe over the course of the coming years will gain much more in terms of social progress. Here is an excerpt of a blog post I authored for Defend Wisconsin:
A year ago the system of social trust in Wisconsin began to come unraveled. Today marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Walker’s announcement of the Budget Repair Bill, now Wisconsin Act 10, effectively ending 50 years of public sector collective bargaining rights.
I believed a year ago that we would “kill the bill.” I believed if we made our voices heard, we could appeal reason on the part of lawmakers. If we spoke about the hardships this bill would cause around the state for families, for students, for ordinary Wisconsinites that go to work everyday with faith in the system, our government would listen to us.
But more than that, I had faith in the democratic process. I had faith in a fair democratic system in which we could appeal to a deeper sense of justice. This is what had broken down in our state over the course of the past year. This is what John Rawls, in outlining the idea of “justice as fairness,” writes is the “idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation,” meaning on a most basic level that in a pluralist political system individuals may not agree with the outcome of any given decision, but they can trust the process by which decisions are made is fair, that democratic institutions uphold what we can agree on as “democracy.” That means playing by the rules, not bending them to suit a national right-wing political agenda. That means having a truly independent judiciary system to check the power of the legislative and executive branches of government. It means not making it harder for those who are more likely to disagree with you to vote.
There are moments when one cannot be silent. We did not know how many people would join us on February 14, 2011, as we delivered valentines to Gov. Walker, or how many people would come to the Joint Finance on Committee public hearing on February 15, 2011. But we spoke out.
You can read the full post here.
I also had the privilege this past December to participate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Oral History Project to share my experiences with the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) and our efforts to organize against the Budget Repair Bill a year ago. It made me keenly aware of the power of stories and how we make sense of our life experiences. As well as the limitations of narrative as a research method. You can access my interviews here.