On Saturday, Cristie and Scout and I drove three hours northwest to Madison, Wis. to see what 70,000 angry cheeseheads looked like.
The first surprise was, they didn't look angry.
My Flip captured the spirit of the day before it died of exposure—therefore missing the weird and wondrous atmosphere inside the capitol rotunda on Saturday night—but here are some things I learned, that you might not know from watching the news.
1. You can judge their wit by the signs I showed in the video, but Wisconsin liberals are the friendliest damned people in the world. You think to yourself: Whatever these people want, I'm for.
2. No matter what the content of the signs they're carrying, people at protests are generally on their best behavior and in good humor. (I heard that Tea Party protests were pleasant to be around.) This is because people simply feel good to be together in an effort to improve things.
3. Whatever's happening here is formidable. Scout and Cristie in bed, I talked in the hotel bar with two college-age young protesters, both of whom had spent a dozen nights sleeping on the marble floor of the cacophanous rotunda. (Think about that.)
They were taking a night off for pizza and a soft bed for our hotel, but one of them was quitting college to spend the rest of the semester at this. He was there with his dad, who beamed with pride at his son's commitment.
The other, a woman, seemed just as committed. She'd been getting up off the capitol floor and going to work for two weeks. She said she sees Madison as the epicenter of a national reclamation of workers' rights.
"We're speaking for the rest of the country," she said.
Have you ever done anything this meaningful in your life? I asked her.
"Never, never, never!" she nearly cried.
Yesterday I came to understand that what was happening here was more than a fight about one bill. Today as I drove home, I kept thinking: This is probably going to go on for awhile.