8 March 2011Dear Mr. Walker and Mr. Fitzgerald,
First off, Happy International Women's Day! You must feel pretty good on a day like today, because if it wasn't for men like you we wouldn't even have a day like this in the first place. But, thanks to measures like your misogynistic attempts to ban women from obtaining reproductive health services and banning insurance companies from covering birth control, we still need to take at least one day a year to remember that women aren't just oppressed "internationally," but also right here in the good old USofA. So thanks! This day's for you!
More importantly, though, I'd like to address a claim that both of continue to make, that's really been bothering me. It has to do with your absurd contention that the protesters in Madison and throughout the state are "outsiders" - either some shadily ominous union messengers or representatives or equally frightening White House goons hell-bent on winning the next election.
There are a few reasons why this is total br*t@wr*st, and I think we can agree on the first one, which is, obviously, that it's a lie. The people who stand united against you are not "outsiders." They are tax-paying citizens of Wisconsin from all bents of life and political perspectives. They are laborers, teachers, nurses, police, librarians, students, daycare providers, parents of students in public schools, members of the clergy, doctors, fire fighters, lawyers, professionals of every sort. They are, in short, a perfect cross-section of the diverse population of Wisconsin and every time you imply that they are not, you insult each and every citizen of this state. Which is very, very rude of you, considering the stature of your respective offices, and your mutual disrespect for honesty and the people of Wisconsin.
The other reason this is so troubling, though, has to do with your repeated attempts to position the public outrage over your budget bill as an "us vs. them" - "union workers vs private sector," "public employees vs taxpaying citizens" debate. It's not. First, because everyone knows that this is a specious and superficial claim, and you hate public and private unions equally, in any case. And secondly because public employees pay as much tax as anyone else and contribute entirely on their own to their pensions. Trying to dupe the rest of the public into thinking otherwise is duplicitous and immoral.
Further, by insisting that this debate is hinged solely on the question of unions - and particularly the collective bargaining rights of public employees, you very manipulatively turn our attention away from the myriad ways this bill gives rightful cause to revolt: Your hijacking, for instance, of BadgerCare, SeniorCare, Medicaid and public power plants. Your misappropriation of public funds to pay for rich kids to attend private and charter schools even as you gut the public education budget to absolutely inhumane levels. Your hateful treatment of women by turning back the clock on all our progress in reproductive health. Your gutting of our state's exemplary recycling programs and other environmental efforts. Your careful manipulations of measure after measure, and the sneaky and undemocratic way by which you've tried to force them through ARE the heart of these protests. It's not, as we've said so many times, about the money. It's about our rights.
Today, Mr. Fitzgerald, you had the nerve to say "We're no longer dealing with the people who have been in and around the Capitol." Well, I've been in and around the Capitol like crazy the past three weeks. I live here, I pay taxes here, and I work here. I'm not going anywhere. And I'm sick and tired of the two of you lying about the people of Wisconsin - to our faces, and to the world. One day, you will have the right to remain silent. But that day has not yet arrived. While we wait for it, I suggest you apologize to the people of this state for insulting their justified objections to your immoral budget. It could be a joint press conference or something. And at the end you could surprise everyone with a joint resignation. You'd go down in history! What greater gift could you give the people of Wisconsin?
Well, enjoy the rest of your Women's Day! I hope my children live to see a time when this day really is a celebration of women, and not just an asterisk in the grand narrative of entitlement of people like you. And I look forward equally to the day when they thank me for publicly calling for your resignation, and fighting for what is right and what is true.
Heather DuBois Bourenane