THE BLOG
02/26/2011 05:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Wisconsin Is the World

I'm writing after an exhilarating day in Madison, where I went with 160 leaders from L.A. -- nurses, teachers, janitors, hotel workers, people from every walk of life. I came to connect with people who are in the middle of one of the ugliest fights in a long time, a direct fight by big money against regular people, people standing up in a brave, creative way to assert their rights, their vision, their ideas.

From the moment we arrived in Madison you could see that the whole town is consumed. It's been taken over by this progressive fervor -- it seems like every restaurant, every dry cleaners has a message posted: "I'm pro-union," "I support teachers," "I believe in public sector workers." Wherever you go there is support. And the media is everywhere, circling the whole town.

We marched across the city and into the beautiful capitol building. There were a thousand people rallying inside the rotunda, people who were really exhausted but singing and chanting, despite the fact that they've been doing this day and night for 8 or 9 days. People were spontaneously hugging us and crying and thanking us.

We went into the pizza place that has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars from people around the world to pay for pizza for all the protesters. A big sign has been put up showing where all the donations are coming from.

To be in Madison is really scary and exciting at the same time. After 24 hours here, I'm acutely aware that we often hold ourselves back because we believe that there is a built-in level of civility and respect. People here feel that they've been pushed over the edge, and they feel free to be really strong and brave and forceful, to occupy the statehouse. We don't often take the kinds of risks that maybe we need to take to move our vision forward. Imagine if we can muster all this energy and enthusiasm for our own agenda.