Jessica VanEgeren of the Madison Capitol Times writes that about 50 farmers are expected to bring their tractors to Madison today for demonstrations.
The farmers’ concerns go beyond union busting. Many of them depend on Medicaid-funded state health care programs that Walker is planning to cut. They are also concerned about what’s going to happen to their kids’ schools.
The fact that small farmers like Greeno have decided to protest Walker’s budget is an indication not all is well in America’s Dairyland. So is the handful of e-mails, phone calls and messages the grassroots Family Farm Defenders have received over the past several days because of its involvement with the event.
John Peck, the group’s director, says the calls and messages he has received have one common message: farmers participating in Saturday’s protest are being “duped” into supporting the unions.
“This isn’t us versus them, with farmers siding with union employees,” says Scott Schultz, executive director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. “In rural farm communities, Walker’s budget is hitting home in a number of ways.”
Although unions and collective bargaining have strong roots in the farm industry — the Wisconsin Farmers Union began in the 1930s — Peck says Saturday’s rallies are about more than preserving union rights.
Peck says many of those coming to Madison are upset by the realization that Walker’s agenda is “sacrificing Wisconsin’s quality of life for everyone, not just unions.”
Remember, the population of Wisconsin is 5,654,774 people plus 1,261,000 dairy cows. Wisconsin farmers are the people who put the cheese in cheesehead. I was in Madison on business once while some dairy farmer association was having a convention, and the only motel room my company could get for me was eight miles out of town. And next to a dairy farm.
Elsewhere — this week a white supremacist and neo-Nazi was arrested and charged with planting a bomb along a Martin Luther King Day parade route. Elsewhere, five right-wing anti-government extremists (part of the “sovereign citizens” movement) were arrested in Fairbanks, Alaska, for conspiring to kidnap or kill Alaska state troopers and a Fairbanks judge. The group had done extensive surveillance of the judge’s home and had an extensive cache of weapons, some of them illegal.
So let’s not all hold our breaths waiting for Peter King to hold hearings about the dangers of right-wing radicals, shall we?
Speaking of Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has come out against plans to defund Planned Parenthood. Naturally, the teabaggers are having fits. My favorite reaction is a comment at Frum Forum: “SHE MIGHT AS WELL STAB A BABY! TWICE! WITH A GAY MUSLIM KNIFE!” Seriously.
Teabaggers extol the virtues of federalism, by which they mean something closer to “states’ rights.” Yet they don’t grasp that elected senators and representatives represent their states and constituents, not teabag ideology. What the teabaggers are trying to do is co-opt state governments into carrying out a national agenda, which is not federalism. And they want to use national clout and money to influence elections within states in which the states’ residents may have different ideas (think Joe Miller).
Anyway … go Wisconsin.
Update: The “Wisconsin 14,” formerly the Senators in Exile, will be joining today’s march to the capitol. Cool.