Gino DePinto, AOL This afternoon, Tom Morello and his "Guitarmy" assembled in…
- Posted on Feb 26th 2011 3:00PM by Steve Baltin
Tom Morello has a lot of anecdotes from the time he spent in Madison, Wis. this past week playing for the protestors fighting Gov. Rick Scott's legislation, which Morello calls "anti-union." But there's one that stands out to him.
"Tim [Mcllrath] from Rise Against was there, Wayne Kramer, Ike Reilly, and the Street Dogs were there, so I met those guys at a bar across the street and at this bar [were] these two big, burly Packer fans, drunken, loud Packer fans," Morello tells Spinner of his first day in Madison. "Now normally if I was on tour, these would be the guys I might sit at the opposite end of the bar; in Madison, Wis., they were much more militant about union issues than anyone in the capitol. They were leading the entire bar in these pro-union chants with their Packer gear on. I'm like, 'Man, this is a new day for America. I'm glad to be at ground zero.'"
As much as Morello, who was there at the invitation of several people in Wisconsin -- "I was asked to go to Madison by the individual workers and more than one union, to come and play and energize people on the street and the kids in the capitol," he says -- to motivate people through music he was clearly as blown away as anyone. "I was so inspired by what I saw in the streets and in the capitol building, the students of Madison, Wis. have occupied the state capitol and they're not giving it back," he says. "There are plenty of students there, but these are firemen and policemen. It's like it's every stripe, every creed, every color, there are kids, there are religious groups, there are teachers, old hippies, they were very militant and wound up and it was very exciting."
For Morello, who through both his time as a solo artist as the Nightwatchman and with Rage Against The Machine has been at the center of many a political protest, the groundswells taking place now have visibly energized him and he feels there are more to come. "It's only just begun. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that he's not going to pursue anti-union legislation he was considering. In Indianapolis, democratic state senators have left the state to block anti-union legislation from being brought forward," he says. "And there were 10,000 people on the streets of Columbus, Ohio yesterday as well. There's also a caravan of Los Angeles workers headed to Wisconsin to support their struggle. This is a prairie fire that is growing exponentially on a daily basis of people taking back the narrative from Fox News and the conservative radio talk show hosts who are just shills for their corporate masters."
Morello is not afraid to directly come at the conservatives as he discusses his views on the Wisconsin situation. "I think the principle reason why there are so many brushfires breaking out is because conservatives, right-wingers, used this opportunity of the downturn in the economy that was started by the super rich, the banks, and the huge corporations and has economically devastated the working class and middle class of America and they used that tragedy, that economic tragedy to try to push through legislation that will roll back decades of social progress," he says. "That's what they're doing, that's what this is about. But they miscalculated, they just thought we were gonna lay back and take it. And I think they really miscalculated when they started this fight in Wisconsin because when I was in that capitol building standing together in solidarity are policemen, firefighters, veterans, teachers, students, it's unbelievable."
And he has some pointed words for the state's governor. "Governor Walker has said in this issue there's no room for compromise. He should go down to his own capitol building and explain that to the cops, firefighters, veterans, and students down there, which he's afraid to do."
There was also a personal stake for him to come to capitol and the center of the battle for union rights, namely as a father. "My second child is about to be born. And so my wife and I are watching the news unfold in Wisconsin and we have a one-year-old as it is and on the baby daddy front times are hectic around here and I said to my wife, 'Honey, our boys are gonna grow up to be union men,'" he recalls. "She said, 'Yes, the Nighwatchman had better go.' So I booked my ticket."