The liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now (OWN) is encouraging people to create messages to be posted on a mobile billboard that will be visible during the April 15 Tea Party event on the Capitol Square in Madison. The theme of the counter-protest is “Why America Works.”
“We want to send a strong message about what makes America work,” OWN’s executive director Scot Ross said in a phone interview. “We’re hoping maybe they’ll read our message and think a little bit.”
Ross spoke passionately during the interview about the group’s desire get the message out that taxes pay for public schools, fire and police, troops, roads and other common and essential services and infrastructure that communities and businesses need in order to thrive. He believes that America is a great country but feels that the middle-class is “under assault by the corporate-sponsored anti-Obama Tea Party effort.”
“We’re not going to stay silent while Tea Partiers trash the [public] investments we’ve made to make this country great,” the organization said in its online invitation to members to contribute to the mobile Tea Party message board.
The Tea Parties, occurring all over the nation, are famous for their vocal protestations against everything from taxes to “Obamacare” to efforts to curb global warming. Organizers of the upcoming Madison event say they are expecting anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 attendees on April 15th.
One Wisconsin Now hopes "to focus attention on the critical public investments Americans have made working together to create the middle class and support the American Dream.”
In the weeks leading up to the event, OWN has already garnered several hundred responses affirming its members’ vision of America. The plan is to post as many of those affirmations as possible on the mobile bulletin board, which will be driven around the Square. One central message – to be voted on by the 45,000 online membership – will be featured in giant type to anchor the hundreds of other messages.
Members of One Wisconsin Now had made their presence known at the 2009 tax day Tea Party event, also held on the Capitol grounds. However, according to Ross, they were confronted with homophobic slurs, obscenities and other verbal abuse.
“We want to remind the Tea Partiers that Americans share a sense of civic pride and they [the Tea Partiers] seem to have forgotten that,” Ross said. He said the group hopes “to take all this negativity and turn it into something positive.”
"The middle class didn't happen by accident," Ross said. "It happened because of deliberate decisions to empower working Americans -- whether it's the GI Bill, mortgage deductions, public schools orrealizing the dream of a college education."
"Wisconsin has always been about finding solutions and working together, and working families across the state are soundly rejecting this extremism," Ross said in a public statement sent via email. "The extremism, coarse language and documented racist appeals seen at Tea Party events around the country are being soundly rejected by the people of Wisconsin."
The April 15th Tea Party will take place at the State Capitol Building from 11:30am to 1:00pm.
For more information go to OneWisconsinNow.org.