Photo by Megan B.
A report on the Car Caravan Against Fascism by Scot McCullough
On Saturday, January 9 over 150 people participated in a car caravan against fascism, demanding the resignation or removal from office of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. Ron Johnson has spent much of his political energy since November feeding into Trump’s baseless claims that there was widespread voter fraud and that the election was rigged against him. This led to the thousands-strong fascist coup attempt in D.C. last Wednesday, where Congress’ normally symbolic confirmation of the electoral college votes was delayed by hours after fascists breached the capitol building.
Ron Johnson is partially responsible for the credibility and confidence given to the far-right in the US right now through his public statements that he would vote to reject the election results. Even after seeing the fascist paraphernalia and confederate flags in the capital, Johnson still published a statement saying “I refuse to dismiss the legitimate concerns of tens of millions of Americans who have lost faith in our institutions and the fairness of our electoral process.” This is what is motivating people across the state to call for his removal right now, including calls from the mainstream newspapers like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal.
Saturday’s action, initiated by the Madison DSA and involving Socialist Alternative, Allies for Black Lives, Sunrise Movement, Impact Demand, Our Wisconsin Revolution Dane County, WI WILL WIN, Urban Triage, and the Teaching Assistants Association, began at the Wisconsin State Capitol at noon. Cars blocked traffic on the square as they circled the building. The caravan left the square and went down the mostly straight shot to Ron Johnson’s office 9 miles away. People honked their car horns and led chants on megaphones from their windows.
At Johnson’s office, in a small corporate office-building near the mall, people spoke to the crowd about the magnitude of Johnson’s actions, as well as speaking about the connections between the fight for Black Lives all summer and fall and what happened in DC on Wednesday. Many at the rally were among those tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed (or worse) by Madison police over the summer, and the juxtaposition between their treatment and that of the fascists was lost on no one.
In addition to having speakers at the rally, participants were encouraged to leave a message to Johnson on the sheets of paper provided and tape it to the front of the building. Some messages focused on the events of last week, like “Get Out, Fascist Trash” and “You Support Fascists, How dare you object to the votes of US citizens? Resign Today”, while others focused on other crimes of Ron Johnson and the US government, like “Free the kids in cages! Abolish ICE!”
In addition to the car caravan, Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America hosted a simultaneous livestream discussion of Wednesday’s violent attack for people who could not participate in the car caravan and rally, either due to a lack of transportation or due to COVID-19 concerns. The discussion featured four local activists, including Julianna Bennett and Ananda Deacon, in addition to DSA members Brian Ward and Dayna Long. The discussion covered the difference between the police response to the white surpremacist mob in Washington D.C. and their response to non-violent protests for Black liberation. The panelists also discussed how the violent aims of the fascists movement were reflected in the lack of care shown to their own supporters, one of whom was trampled to death at the scene of the mob, and how this contrasts with the community care practiced at local Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
While Saturday’s action focused on Senator Ron Johnson, he is not the only Wisconsin politician who is responsible for the growth of far-right street movements right now. In the House, Tom Tiffany, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grothman, and Bryan Steil also legitimized the far-right conspiracy theory in the days leading up to the 6th through their refusal to publicly state that they would certify the election results. In the final and official votes, Johnson, Grothman, and Steil did confirm the election results, but their 11th-hour change-of-heart is too little and too late. Tiffany and Fitzgerald, even after the fascist riot, continued to back Trump and they voted to object to the election certification.
While the Republican Party makes it clear every day that they are a party of capital, the actions of these people—rioters and elected officials alike—represents a new and more dangerous threat to both democracy and people’s lives. As the various strands of far-right politics search for fuel to ignite their spark into a full-fledged populist movement, these politicians have given it to them, legitimizing their conspiracies and their violence. Socialists must fight fascism at every turn, and a part of that fight is shining a light on and isolating the mainstream fascist collaborators like Johnson, Tiffany, and Fitzgerald.The Democratic Socialists of America is supporting the resolution of Representative Cori Bush calling for Congress to condemn and remove from office the Republicans in office who empowered fascists in the streets. In Wisconsin, this means Senator Ron Johnson, who vocally supported Trump’s conspiracy theories; and Reps. Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald, who actually voted against certifying the results. Sign the petition here to add your name to the call for their removal.
Madison Area DSA’s organizing against fascism and the growth of the far right continues. Join us for a Freeze Out Fascism event on Sunday, January 24, location TBA. See Facebook for details.