February 18, 2011- The key to winning the battle in Wisconsin is how much endurance the protestors will have in remaining vigilant and how much pressure they can force the business community to bring to bear on Governor Walker. It remains unclear whether people are willing to skip work and other important things for the weeks that it might take to win this fight. Every day, the Wisconsin GOP has dismissed the protests saying they won’t last another day, but each day the protests get bigger by estimates of about ten thousand people each day. These protests have been successful in gaining a great deal of public support. A new statewide poll shows that 65 percent of Wisconsin residents think that Walker has gone too far in his attack on public employees.
The protests do appear to be growing and have entered the realm where they are no longer something being planned through rigorous amounts of organizing, but are happening spontaneously as people get inspired by the events. Dozens of smaller protests are popping up at smaller cities throughout Wisconsin and students walk out of numerous schools across Wisconsin. Many union members and activists across the country are beginning to organize car pools to travel to Madison.
A key thing to watch is whether the protests will grow enough to stop Walker from giving his scheduled budget address on Tuesday. Walker is attempting to move the speech to a location outside of the state legislature building, which could potentially be in violation of state law. Walker has also announced he will not present his actual budget till a week later, but will just give a speech.
The second thing to watch is whether or not that massive amount of public support can translate into pressure from the institutional actors like local governments and the business community. Many local governments are upset by the bill which not only affects the ability of public workers to bargain, but also makes drastic cuts in many basic services and municipality funding. The Mayor of Madison led a march with local public employee union members to the Capitol. Likewise, many local administrators who see their budgets being cut have been sympathetic to workers taking time off to attend the protests.