The revolution will not be hungry


Photo by Allen Christian

The revolution may not be televised, but it won’t go hungry either. There are bananas and apples, carrot sticks, granola bars; the kinds of snacks you’d expect nurses and librarians to nibble on. Air mattresses bank the walls. Sleeping bags, rolled lengthwise, are pushed against the granite balustrades like towels against a drafty kitchen door. On the third floor of the Wisconsin state capitol, it looks like they’re planning to stay. 

In a corner sits an open box of hand-warmers and another with bags of throat lozenges. “We have toiletries; Kleenex, tampons and hand sanitizer,” a sign proclaims.  Someone has taped a wish list to one of the polished pillars. They’ve used the blue painters tape that comes off cleanly. The sign says they’re seeking socks, and children’s vitamins, and gluten-free crackers. You’ve got to love a movement that considers the needs of celiac suffers. 

The only thing you couldn’t find at the Wisconsin state house last week was opposition. The tea-party buses hauled people from three states to Madison on Saturday. But, by mid afternoon on that day, only a couple dozen clung to a lone barricade on the south side of the square, while a few hundred more held out at the back steps of the capitol. It was a pretty limp showing next to the tens of thousands that showed up for worker’s rights. 

Days later, the tea party has seeped away, leaving not a sign, a t-shirt or a chant. I don’t doubt that they’ll be back, in some form, but at this point it seems clear that supporters of Wisconsin public employees are feeling right at home.