While history is made everyday, in the 2010 United States midterm elections, there was at least a bit of foreshadowing. During these elections, the net gain/loss of house seats was the highest it has been since 1938 – when FDR was President. Much of the ink printed around the midterm elections was focused on the prospects of Republicans being in control of redistricting. While that is also an important issue, the pressing matter of today seems to be what is happening in Wisconsin and whether or not it will happen in other states like Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan.
I remember when the numbers were rolling in, and the state legislatures began to flip (from Democrat to Republican) such that Republicans controlled more state legislatures than they had since 1928, that it may prove to be ominous. While I may have thought it to be a foreshadowing of things to come, never could I have predicted (nor do I think others could have) the events that have transpired in Wisconsin. Not to mention the kind of national spotlight that has been thrust upon the issue(s) at hand.
I’m wondering, though, if the political arena should have seen this coming when all the state legislatures flipped in November (of 2010)? Like I said, in my non-exhaustive search, I didn’t find anyone predicting it and I suppose you really can’t blame anyone for not predicting it. Who could have, given the data at hand? Nonetheless, it’s quite breathtaking to flip on the TV and see thousands of people gathering together for what they believe.
During my time as an undergraduate, I had a minor experience with what it takes to hold and organize a rally at a state legislature. From this experience, I can say that what is happening in Wisconsin is truly remarkable. I was only involved in a rally of about 1000 people for a few hours — these people have sustained protests of more than 50,000 people for nearly two weeks.
While someone, somewhere, may claim to have been able to predict what the Wisconsin State Legislature is doing, I would be highly suspicious of someone claiming to have been able to predict the public opposition in the way of sleeping at the capitol. Citizens have voiced their opinions on issues before, but never in my lifetime have I seen it happen like this. The most interesting thing to me is the context for which this is happening.
I’ve talked about some of the recent world events and how that may be clouding our ability to see the future, but I think the protests in Wisconsin may not be happening the way they are if there weren’t already the massive protests in Tunisia and Egypt. The fair majority of Americans stay current in the way of the news of the day and because of technology, the news of the day is something that can become the news of this minute or the news of this second. I think with Americans being exposed to the possibility of protests and more importantly, protests working, it might have given hope or purpose to those in Wisconsin who saw fit to stand for what they believe in.