Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nobody Important ... Just a Protester

Special guest post by Ryan Wherley
After my job interview Thursday, I decided to walk over to the Capitol to catch the tail-end of the JFC hearing and see how many layers of shit they were spreading across the state. I had an actual suit and tie on so I figured it would be a good opportunity to hob knob with my sleazy, school "choice" lobbyist brethren. The hearing was just clearing out as I reached the 4th floor and saw Republican Senator Luther Olsen approaching.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Wells

Olsen has been an outspoken opponent of Scott Walker's budgetary plan to expand unaccountable, public school-defunding, private school vouchers throughout the state. Currently, the legislature and school "choice" lobbyists are attempting to hammer out an absurd compromise that would expand the voucher program to EVERY school district in the state in exchange for a woefully insufficient increase in public school funding.

The final result of this critically important issue remains yet-to-be decided in the JFC. So as Olsen passed by, I said, “Stand firm on school vouchers, Senator Olsen." He turned and must've asked who said that, because one of his staffers muttered something and then clearly said, "It's nobody important...just a protester." They all turned away and kept walking.

This is the disdain with which the entire bunch of Republican lap dogs and their staffers view the general public. I am NOT a fucking “protester." Do I protest the brazenly jaw dropping injustices that are being thrust upon our state on a daily basis? Absolutely, and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't. I am a citizen of Wisconsin, just like Sen. Olsen and the woman who made the condescendingly dismissive remark, and an extremely concerned one at that. I wasn't protesting anything at the time. In fact, I was giving him encouragement for his first contentious stance in the last 3 years that I can agree with, which just so happens to relate to something I care deeply about: public education.

Photo courtesy of Susan Cohen
However, I am a citizen who cares enough and has the time allowing me to actually show up to actively observe and participate in the process. Also, I'm a citizen who is stereotyped easily enough to be labeled an opponent of the ALEC agenda being rammed through our state by politicians like Olsen. Thus, I should be ignored and anything I say should be discounted as without merit, regardless of the message.

These are public officials elected to serve all the people of our state and act in the public good. His staffer is also a public servant paid with public tax dollars to which I contribute. Yet even when the only thing I have ever said to this man was encouraging him not to waver on standing up for the people of the state instead of the corporate privatizers for once, I am too insignificant for them to respond.

The reality is no surprise at this point but this exchange was indicative of the tenor of daily life in Fitzwalkerstan. In their eyes, I'm not a citizen, merely an unimportant “protester" because I am one of the many who continue to bear witness first-hand to the rise of fascism under Scott Walker's rule. That is their view of anyone who disagrees with the desecration of Wisconsin, even on the miraculous occasion when we agree on an issue. All the suits in the world won't change that.


  1. Nice article Ryan....yes we are all citizens and our voices should be heard, but unfortunately as long as many in our state continue to believe it is their way or no way at all, then maybe we should all be protesters also.

  2. Until my generation of Baby Boomers stops voting, it will be difficult to convince them that everyone should work 60 or more hours every week at a job they might not like in order to pay for taxes, shelter, and consumer goods and services.

    We are raising a generation of children who will likely astound us with their wisdom. They KNOW the stuff we are trying to teach them in school is not the stuff we need to know as citizens or consumers.

    Wages must catch up with profits and all people in the world deserve living wages and affordable food and shelter. ONLY CORPORATIONS who pay wages so that their employees can earn above welfare levels, should be permitted to declare any profit to CEO's, management or shareholders! CERTAINLY not to the board of directors!