Madison, Wis. — Greetings from the state capitol, where thousands of labor activists continue to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill. Most of them are huddling indoors, chanting beneath the rotunda. Things are sweaty, red, and loud; lots of posters, banners, and homemade T-shirts, with anti-Walker or pro-union messages scrawled in marker. Outside, the air is bitter cold and the sidewalks icy, but a few souls are marching. The schools are still closed. Business is booming, at least at the local cafes and slice shops.
Politically, not much is happening. GOP state senators will return to the chamber Tuesday and 14 Democratic state senators remain on the lam in Illinois. Stand-off, stalemate, face-off — these are the words floating around the press room. Still, Senate Republicans hope to pressure Democrats to come back to the Badger State by bringing up numerous bills tomorrow. Walker pledges not to budge. He told NRO on Sunday that he expects his plan to pass by the end of this week. Democrats may be in a corner: The part of Walker’s proposal that refinances the state’s debt must be completed by Friday in order for the bonds to be refinanced this fiscal year.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, who rallied in Madison last week, plans to return to the the capital on Tuesday. The vast majority of protesters, however, are not political figures — it’s mostly government workers, teachers, and their friends. To get a sense of the crowd, here’s some NRO footage of the protesters entering the capitol this morning:
Music is a big part of labor’s effort. When the assembled take a break from chanting, or blasting Walker on a bullhorn, they usually break out in song. Here, union backers sing Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid”:
If you’re interested, I’m posting snapshots from around Madison on Twitter.