South Carolinians chose the side of Wisconsin public employees Saturday, wearing red to a State House rally to support attempts to preserve collective bargaining rights for state workers, teachers and others.
About 125 people attended the rally, which was organized by national liberal group MoveOn.org and held at capitols nationwide.
About two dozen Tea Party members also showed up to voice support for Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker is supporting legislation that would strip collective bargaining rights from public employee unions in an effort to close a state budget deficit. Union employees have filled the capitol in Madison for the past two weeks, while Senate Democrats have fled the state.
Those at the S.C. rally argued the debate in Wisconsin is an assault on the middle class.
"I'm fortunate; I think I have achieved the American Dream," said organizer Rosa Fang, a Taiwanese immigrant. "That progress is going to be taken away if we don't stand up for our rights."
Attendees took turns at the microphone explaining why they oppose Walker, and urging South Carolina workers to advocate more on their own behalf.
Tea Party members loudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance at one point, and those at the rally shouted back and forth a few times at the tea partiers.
But mostly, though they disagreed over Walker, unions and public employee benefits, the two sides politely discussed issues from bank bailouts to health care.
Anne Knight Watson and her husband, Sam, drove from McClellanville to attend the rally. Sam held a sign that read, "Public servants are not public enemies."
S.C. lawmakers routinely approve things in the best interest of the corporation, Sam Watson said, including ignoring inequity in the state tax codes.
"We're standing on the steps of the last plantation," he said of the State House. "What taxes are we not collecting? To whom, for what purpose and to what effect?"