Author John Nichols Discusses New Book on Wisconsin Protests

by Patricia Guadalupe  |  February 16, 2012

John Nichols UprisingA new book recounts the historic 2011 uprising in Wisconsin in support of American public service workers, how that massive protest helped fuel the Occupy movement and ultimately energized the 99%.

In Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street author John Nichols describes in vivid detail how the protests in Wisconsin took the establishment by surprise. Nichols calls it the new politics of protest.

“The way it would work before was that people would get together, make their case, and go home,” Nichols said at a book signing Wednesday in Washington, D.C. “But what the powers weren’t counting on (in Wisconsin) was the people would come back. They had to be made afraid that people would come back, and that’s exactly what happened in Wisconsin. People had a grievance and they came back and they stayed and wouldn’t back down.”

Nichols makes a comparison between what happened in Wisconsin and what had been occurring at the same time, on the other side of the globe. “Wisconsin was watching what was happening in Egypt, that after 18 days, one of the most powerful dictators in the world stepped down. Wisconsinites thought, ‘Well, if Egypt can stop Hosni Mubarak, then Wisconsin can stop Scott Walker.”

Nichols, a journalist with The Nation magazine, told the packed gathering at restaurant-meets-community center Busboys and Poets that he has reported around the world, “but I’ve never seen anything like what I saw in Wisconsin.”

Students, organized labor and Wisconsinites connected in an unprecedented way in their fight to stop the governor. Nichols calls their work “transformative politics” and said it has taken root in other cities and towns and represents a new chapter in the labor movement. It is what AFSCME members refer to as their Main Street movement.

He added however, that the struggle continues. “It is going to be ongoing, this fight against working-class America. But Wisconsin and other examples showed what we can do if we push them, if we come together and don’t back down.”

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