I joined the largest crowd to protest on the state capitol steps since the Vietnam war protests in the 60's on the 15th. Despite the media spin for other locations we had a well mannered crowd of approximately 8,200 in Madison.
Mr. Mark Block, head of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity was the organizer although he jokingly said he must not be a very good one or he would have ordered more buses to shuttle people from the parking area at the Alliant Energy Center to the capitol square. He did have 12 speakers and representatives(I am assuming AFP local chapter heads) from 72 counties in WI who had helped to get the word out about the event.
The first speaker was Congressman Paul Ryan who challenged the MSM's assertion that this wasn't a grass roots movement. Among the gems in his speech were these:" They (the political and media elite in this country) want you to pay up and shut up; Your patriotic duty is to pay taxes because the government is smarter than you are; America is an exceptional nation....and we want to keep it that way; We don't want to become a European nation, we want to maintain it an American nation." He then mentioned that this budget doubles our national debt in 5 years and triples it in 10, but that such spending is not necessary. He urged the crowd that if you believe in the principles that built this country- freedom, self-determination and liberty- then join us.
Then (to a bit of heckling) the Reince Priebus, the state chairman of Wisconsin's GOP had the microphone. He said "If we've learned anything over the past 4 months, it's that elections matter." The crowd heartily agreed. (There were a number of people who said they truly regretted having voted for Mr. Obama.) Mr. Priebus went on to say that "Big government stops here, big government stops today." While the crowd approved of the sentiment, they were skeptical of the GOP's ability to restrain themselves should they once again gain the majority.
The next speaker was Jerry Bader of WTAQ-Green Bay. He commented on Mr. Krugman's statement about the tea parties- that "They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects."
In response, Mr. Bader said "This is the most reality Madison has seen in more than 100 years." (He's right, I grew up in Madison and have been known to refer to my hometown as "Universityland surrounded by la-la land".) He told the crowd that our greatest freedom is to have the chance to try and fail. If you've bought too much house, you're going to fail and that's the way it should be. He said Great success often comes from great risk. The implication is that without the opportunity to take great risks, we are shortchanging our opportunities to find great success as well. He encouraged the crowd to take risks and do more. Get involved and stay involved.
I'll add bits from the rest of the speakers as I have time this week.