My phone rang on a Sunday afternoon, and I never answer my phone on Sundays – unless it's family, or if it was Andrew Breitbart – an exception that had little to do with the fact he was my employer.
"Did you see it?"
"Yeah, we watched the live feed online. It went off just a few seconds ago."
"Could you even hear us? The crowd was insane. I couldn't even hear myself."
"The feed was great. You could hear every word."
"Including me telling them to go to hell?"
It was April 17, 2011, a full two months after Wisconsin state Senate Democrats fled the state and exploded Republican Governor Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill into the most important national political battle this country will have between the '08 and '12 presidential elections.
Wisconsin is a state President Obama won by 14 points, but just two years later it was hit by a Republican tsunami. Among the casualties was Democrat Russ Feingold, a popular U.S. Senator. But the real winner was Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who was given Republican majorities to work with in the legislature.
Wisconsin was in terrible economic trouble and Walker acted quickly, drawing up a bill that would, among other things, reform the public sector unions that were bleeding the state dry thanks to benefits and pensions the rest of us – the taxpayers who pay their salaries – can only dream of.
The idea was to – gasp! – demand public employees kick in more for their health and retirement benefits, which would be still less than what those of us in the private sector pay, but enough to make spoiled crybabies cry. Walker's most important reform, though, was the end of collective bargaining for all public unions not representing police and firemen. Walker's bill would also liberate public employees from being forced into unions. Though they would never say so, this is what most terrified (here's why) Democrats and the real motive behind the outrages that would follow.
The first 27 years of my life were spent in Wisconsin. I grew up and got married there. Most of my family is scattered throughout the state, and many of them are school teachers. But it wasn't until Feb 17, 2011 that Wisconsin became my personal crusade.
That was the day the Democrats fled the state because that appalling and cowardly act was the only way they could attempt to stop Walker from passing his reforms.
And so, as the dirty filthy hippies occupied the State Capitol, as the Journal-Sentinel (the state's largest paper) practiced its bias, as the national media lied about everything, and as I argued with family members I love who were part of those Capitol protests – I was outraged and obsessed by what was happening and determined to do everything I could to ensure those dirty filthy hippies and the crybaby public unions were dealt one humiliating loss after another.
Feverishly, I covered and followed every twist and turn of the drama on the Bigs. The fact that my home state was involved had little to do with it. It was the injustice of Democrats and liberal judges and union thugs and the corrupt media using every nasty, deceitful trick in the book to overturn, stifle, and bully democracy.
You can't begin to imagine how lonely this fight was in the beginning. At the time, it felt like it was just me, a few Facebook friends, and Milwaukee's two talk radio giants, Mark Belling and my friend Charlie Sykes. The media and the protesters had seized the narrative, the state was under siege, and no one in the GOP appeared to be lifting a finger. Essentially, what the union thugs, backed by the White House, were doing was working. Everyone and anyone who could help seemed intimidated…
…Except Andrew Breitbart.