Volume 23, Number 2

June 5: Bannockburn or Falkirk?

Fred Schepartz

I remember during the height of the protests in Madison that marked the beginning of the Wisconsin Uprising, I walked around with a homemade sign that merely said “Bannockburn.” I’m sure hardly anybody caught the reference, but it certainly had great meaning to me.

Yes, the stirring scene at the end of Braveheart, where Robert the Bruce rallies a ragged army of highlanders to a stunning victory, which essentially resulted in independence for Scotland, at least for a few hundred years.

To me, in Madison with the Uprising beginning, Bannockburn held a similar meaning. We the people were rising up. It wasn’t just about Scott Walker. It was about being beaten down for 30 years and finally saying enough is enough.

At that time I thought that was our Bannockburn moment. Sad to say, it wasn’t, at least not exactly. The way the Walker Administration was mowing us down, things felt more like The Empires Strikes Back. Bannockburn? Hell, where was our Endor moment?

But the reality of the situation is that while there have been various skirmishes over the last 16 months, we have yet to have the major pitched battle, where the future hangs in the balance.

That changes in five days. June 5: Bannockburn or Falkirk?

The Recall is either going to go one of two ways. Either we defeat Scott Walker and the billionaires backing him or we don’t. If we win, it will be a triumph of People Power, and we will be able to perhaps begin the slow road toward reversing all the damage caused by Walker and the Fitzgerald Brothers.

If we lose, who knows what other havoc they can wreak.

Here’s another quick history lesson: William Wallace had been named Guardian of Scotland after his victory at Sterling only to be soundly defeated at Falkirk. Following this defeat, Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland, effectively ending what had been a fairly successful campaign against the English.

If Walker wins, his side will claim total victory. They will claim a mandate. They will claim that those of us who have organized and resisted all these months do not truly represent the people of Wisconsin. The media will all get in line to support this line of reasoning, regardless of its actual validity.

Resistance will continue, but on a smaller, albeit more intense scale. It is likely repression against those who resist will be more severe. For instance, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs has retired. Tubbs had received a great deal of praise as well as criticism for not responding violently to the protests and occupations. I shudder to think what kind of jack-booted thug will be appointed to succeed Tubbs if Walker wins.

There can only be one conclusion that can be drawn from these two scenarios: we must win. And let’s keep in mind, this is our fight to win. We have the power. We have the control over the situation. It comes down to boots on the ground. We didn’t go to the polls in 2010. If we go this year, we win.

It was reported today that estimated voter turnout could be as high as 60–65 percent, as opposed to the slightly under 50 percent who voted in 2010. Over 60 percent probably wins us this election.

And again, I cannot say it enough. We have the power. We get people out to the polls, we win. We have our Bannockburn. So all of you who can hear my voice: get out there and be those additional boots on the ground needed to win. Yes, electoral politics is not the be all and end all, but in this time and place, it is just that.

One last point I would like to make: the arc of history is long and winding. Let’s remember that Bannockburn happened 16 years after Falkirk, so while Falkirk was a horrible defeat, it wasn’t the end by a long shot. The Scots continued to resist and eventually won their freedom.

Let’s also remember that a few hundred years after Bannockburn, the Scottish and English kingdoms merged, which essentially meant that Scotland was absorbed into England. So much for the great, hard-earned victory at Bannockburn.

June 5 must be our Bannockburn, but regardless of what happens, we cannot afford to ever let our guard down again. We must continue to organize and resist. We must continue our efforts to create our own economy and our own society. That is the only true path to justice.

* * *

For me, it was been one path of resistance after another. Following work on collecting recall signatures, I embarked on one of the most amazing journeys of my life. The result is Cheddar Revolution: Songs of Uprising.

This CD is a compilation of protest songs inspired by the Wisconsin Uprising. Fifteen of the 19 tracks are by Wisconsin artists, including Ken Lonnquist, Ida Jo, The Kissers, The German Art Students and VO5. We also have tracks from both coasts and contributions by heavy-hitters like Wayne Kramer of The MC5 and Jon Langford of The Waco Brothers and The Mekons.

My amazing co-producer, Sybil Augustine, secured grants and donations that enabled us to give the CD away for free. We also have a website (see below) where the CD is available for free download. This is a labor of love. There are no financial or commercial considerations.

We just want people to hear the songs. It is our hope that they can inspire the activists who’ve been plugging away for the last 16 months to keep going to the finish line. We also hope to inspire those on the sidelines to get into the game. For those who have forgotten why we are fighting and maybe aren’t even going to vote, this is a reminder of what our cause is all about.

As Tom Morello says, “The protest song steels the spine and is the wind in the sails.”

So download the CD. Spread the word. Burn and share!

wisconsin protest songs
Free song downloads!