The farmer tells me that farmers are going to the Capitol to protest on Saturday.
I tell him I think it's stupid. It's not like Walker broke a law. People who voted for him should think twice about right-wing fascists next time they go to the polls.
The farmer says fine. He wants to go and he wants to take the kids.
I want to be supportive. I say, “The kids will go nuts there with so many people. I'll go with you to help with the kids.”
He says, “Actually, I am okay handling the kids in crowds. The person who is most likely to go nuts in a crowd is you. So it’d be better if you stayed home anyway.”
I say, “Ok. Thanks.” And I say, “I don't want to start a fight. I just want to understand. Why are you going now? It's over. Walker won.”
He thinks. Then he says, “Farmers want to show that Walker had a mandate, but he took it too far. We want honesty. Walker said it was a budget issue. But he should have said, “?Let's debate collective bargaining.'”
I don't say anything. Well, I try not to, because I'm trying to be less argumentative with the farmer. But I can't resist: “Why are you taking the kids?”
“It's an historical moment. It's the end of collective bargaining. I want them to be there.”
My ex emails the farmer to see if he's going to the farmer protest. My ex will be there with his girlfriend, who teaches first grade in public school.
So the farmer and the kids met my ex and his girlfriend for a day of peaceful protest. And the farmer took pictures.
I am struck by the fact that people identify themselves with their profession when they protest at the Capitol. Work and democracy are so closely tied together. That's clear in the Middle-East, where the upheavals are largely because autocracy does not create the type of vibrant economy that provides people with jobs. But the connection between work and democracy is clear in Wisconsin as well.
This is a good lesson for the boys — work is not just for money, it's for a good life, and it’s a way to feel valued by society.
But the big lesson of the day might be that the boys have a cohesive family because their dad and their step-dad have similar values: Democracy is precious and we need to participate to protect it.
The upshot in our house is that everyone had fun. They were bursting with stories: People dressed in cow costumes! Susan Sarandon was there!
I asked the boys, “What was your favorite chant?”
And both boys yelled: “Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”