It’s funny how things happen sometimes.
Last week, I was back in Madison, WI for a couple days to host a First Wave show, see old friends…and hopefully get a glimpse of the massive people’s uprising that’s taken Wisconsin by storm these last few months. Luck was on my side, and I went three for three.
When I got to Madison, I heard that none other than Sarah Palin was coming to town on Saturday to headline a Tea Party rally at the Capitol. Sarah Palin — in Madison? For real??
But the more I thought about it, I understood the thinking of the Far Right: they want to take the fight right to labor’s home. Even though they passed their anti-labor death bill (currently tied up in court), they were scared by the 100,000 people who literally took over the state Capitol for over three weeks.
“We bought the damn building, we bought almost every politician in there,” the Tea Party funders were thinking. “Who the hell do these Madison protesters think they are to take what we own?” So they brought in their big, lipsticked gun from Alaska to claim their stake.
Wisconsin, of course, wouldn’t let it go down like that. So when I got a call from my old friend and long-time organizer, Ben Manski of the Wisconsin Wave, asking me if I’d do a poem at the counter-protest the next day, I said, “Oh, hell yes.”
I wrote this at 3am the night before the rally, and read it on the Capitol steps in front of thousands of people. On the other side of the Capitol, Sarah and her tea partiers were being outnumbered 10:1 by our progressive folks. Here is the text below, along with a video taken from the rally:
Dear Sarah Palin
At the counter-protest to Sarah Palin’s Tea Party rally in labor’s rebel heartland,
Madison, Wisconsin. April 15, 2011.
This is not a death panel.
These are the people who sustain life.
Teachers, nurses, and that nice fireman
who brought me the cat out of my tree
even though it wasn’t my cat.
This is anything but a death panel.
This is Wisconsin!
There are no palm trees on State Street,
and we don’t drink that kinda tea around here.
If you want, meet at the Cardinal Bar
and buy me a beer, Leinie’s Red,
union-made in Chippewa Falls.
Do you know where that is?
Can you see it from your house like Russia?
I know you don’t like taxes.
Trust me, we get that.
But let me ask you:
do you like roads?
do you like hospitals?
do you like ANYTHING?
Other than 1, 2, now 3 desert wars
just so my gas can cost $4 bucks a gallon
I paid my taxes today.
Unlike some folks: GE, BP, M&I
and all the other lifeless initals
your Supreme Court says have the same rights
as my mom and little sister.
If corporations really are people,
then the IRS needs to arrest
their tax-dodging asses today.
if you and Scott Walker had a baby,
it would look like Gollum
from Lord of the Rings.
Bald, ugly, weak from eternal greed,
but I know you have some Hobbit left in you,
some good in that Alaska accent.
Just put down the tea and take a hit
of whatever Gandalf passes your way.
You make me wish we still had Bush.
You make him look like a MacArthur Genius.
Like him, I know you are an easy target.
A lipsticked puppet to distract
from the real pitbulls pulling the strings:
Koched-out brothers, gilded godfathers.
They got the strings on my old boy Barack too.
Why isn’t he here?
Why hasn’t he come to Wisconsin
or Ohio or Indiana and pick up a picket sign
to smack these governors upside the head?
I guess Hope only comes around
You call yourself a Republican
but you’re stripping whatever’s left
of this never realized republic
I am not a Democrat
but it’s true, this is what democracy
could look like.
Sarah, I’ve never been so proud to be a teacher,
a student, a fighter, a Badger.
I’m so proud I’ve worn red
underwear for 2 months straight!
What can I say, it’s a recession.
Sarah, you will leave
this Capitol Square
but we will not.
Not till we take back our house,
the People’s House.
Your bank doesn’t own the Capitol
and you can’t foreclose on democracy.
This is our home
and we will squat,
we will strike,
we will recall,
we will occupy it
and we will take back our home
one red brick at a time.