Democracy in action

Madison, WI, aug 27, 2013

What’s going on in Madison,WI? On a hot summer day, this city seems to be a paradise on earth. Surrounded by large lakes where one can sail, swim and kite surf, economically fed by major public employers providing lots of jobs, like the huge University of Wisconsin, the State government and major insurance companies, its streets downtown are buzzling with students, cool cafes and organic restaurants. But the first thing we stumbled across was a demonstration in the very heart of the city, the Capitol.
Indeed, not a surprise for the locals : this has been going on for two and a half years, since the incumbent Governor, Scott Walker, a Republican, was elected. Everyday at noon , 50 people gather on the agora, the rotunda in the center of the Capitol,protesting against the Governor’s policy to break collective bargaining in the public services.The demonstrators sing “we shall overcome”, then the police arrive, 3 or 4 cops, no more, they put a sign in the middle of the protesters reminding that the demonstration is illicit, and then they proceed to arrest two participants, no more, whom they release after checking their identity. How cool! We are not in Syria. Wonderful American democracy. The rule of law as a means to address civil conflicts, as opposed to violence and chemical weapons as they do in the Arab world. Let’s hope the last violent street demonstrations were the ones that took place around the civil rights movement in Los Angeles, Alabama and Chicago 50 years ago. Let’s hope the American democracy, a “more perfect union” always in progress, will never see a drop of it’s citizen blood shed on it’s soil.

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