We're probably going to get more of a taste of protest tomorrow, when demonstrators gather in Madison. I don't buy the idea of Republican overreach here. But I do believe that Gov. Scott Walker's victory has energized the base of demoralized Democrats. If I were fighting back across America on collective bargaining and other issues, and I were leading Democrats and union leaders, here would be my rules:
1) Lots of American flags. I saw a bunch in Lansing, where they even sang "God Bless America." That communicates this is about working people, not the professional protest class.
2) Speakers who are union workers, not union leaders. Put faces on your people: a teacher, a copy, a fireman, a sanit worker. Again, takes off the radical edge and creates sympathy.
3) No 60s nostalgia: witness the peace sign made of human bodies that I posted yesterday.
4) As part of #3, no bearded scruffy students being carted away by police for refusing lawful orders to vacate.
5) No Jesse Jackson, for similar reasons.
6) No Michael Moore, for same reasons.
7) Clear efforts to self-police.
Ironically we have seen the kind of peaceful rallies filled with ordinary people these past few months: They are called tea parties. And the ordinariness is one reason why most of America has some sympathy for them.
I believe that the union movement, and even the public-employee union movement, could create more sympathy for itself -- but only if it eschews the nostalgia for the 60s so evident in their militancy, rhetoric, and leaders. And I believe Saul Alinsky, as a matter of tactics, would be with me here.