Progressives Observe “National Day of Recommitment”

Governor Scott Walker Compared to Mubarak and the Anti-Christ

MacIver News Service | March 14, 2013

Union members, liberals, and others from the left joined together on Monday night for the National Day of Recommitment, “an opportunity for activists across America to renew their fight for the rights of working families in America.”

The approximately 200 activists, lawmakers and media personalities who gathered at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison recommitted their opposition to Governor Scott Walker and participated in a town hall discussion about where the progressive movement in Wisconsin goes next.

Veteran Madison radio host John “Sly” Sylvester, referred to Governor Walker at one point as the “anti-Christ.” After a roar of applause and laughter, he added, “I’m kidding.”

Prior to the town hall starting, attendees viewed the documentary, We Are Wisconsin, from independent filmmaker Amie Williams. The movie glamorizes the protests that sprang up in Mid-February 2011, continued after the passage of Act 10 and culminated with the failed recall election of Governor Walker. During the event, Williams stated that her favorite award was the “Best Documentary Award” in Tehran, Iran.

After watching the documentary, participants from locations across the state had the opportunity to question a panel that include State Senator Lena Taylor, columnist John Nichols from the Capital Times, Phil Nuenfeldt of the AFL-CIO, Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, and Williams the filmmaker. Sylvester served as moderator for the discussion.

Bobo talked about her work with people of faith and her union organizing. She said the only way to put a stop to poverty is to form unions. “If you want to end poverty, what’s the best way to do that?” she asked of the crowd. “You get a job, and you get a union.”

Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) talked about the segregation within our state and nation. “This is one of the most segregated times in our nation because we all go to places where we tend to go where people look like us,” she said.

Taylor suggested that liberals and Democrats need to reach out to people of faith. “I refuse to give church or religion to the Republicans,” she said “There is an inability or a fear to embrace the faith community.”

To describe how those on the left can reach out to religious organizations, Taylor spoke about her mother’s disagreements with her own political views.

“So when I went to run for Senate, she was newly engaged in her faith,” said Taylor, “she was not going to support me because she did not agree…with my position on same-sex marriage and my position on a woman’s right to choose.”

She explained that her mother may not see eye to eye with her on every issue, but if she could reach out to her mother in the right way, she would earn her mother’s support.

Taylor eventually explained that it was not herself that convinced her mother to vote for her, but Taylor’s pastor who convinced her mother because he could speak about the “values” that were important. “That pastor was able to do that.”

Bobo talked about reaching out to different congregations to teach them about collective bargaining. She stated that many churches and religious groups do not understand what collective bargaining is. Bobo pointed to a woman in the crowd, “Becky,” and stated that “they had just gotten a grant to help explain collective bargaining in congregations around the state.”

Amie Williams, We are Wisconsin Director, agreed that the left needs to restate their plans as a group and take ownership of it. “We have to talk about holding our media accountable,” she claimed, stating they need to tell their own story by “taking back the ownership of the narrative.”

John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and Associate Editor of the Capital Times, once again compared Governor Walker to former Egyptian Dictator, Hosni Mubarak. “I know the joke is: He [Walker] looked around the world and saw it was one dictator short.” Nichols said.

“Wisconsinites saw what people in other parts of the world had done to oppose oppressive laws, and they came en masse to their public squares,” Nichols said.

The event ended with many of the attendees seemingly ready to recommit to the cause, with their ultimate goal of defeating Governor Walker in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Nichols summed up the theme of the event with a story about a sign he saw at the protests back in 2011.

A protester explained that he used the internet to translate what he wanted to say. The sign, translated into English, read, “If Egypt could get rid of Mubarak, Wisconsin can get rid of Scott Walker.”