Thursday, February 17, 2011

Angry Mobs v. Governor Walker in Wisconsin (or how to run away from a fair fight)

Those that know me really well know I generally don't climb mountains but I would climb a mountain if it meant I could avoid a political debate.  I would circumvent the globe if it meant I wouldn't have to stand toe to toe with an over zealous protester who believes in their cause just enough to bring harm to others or worse yet, an ex-husband who morphed from an agnostic to a right winged conservative political pundit/candidate right before my eyes.  The very same conservative Republican candidate then committed a federal fraud landing him in jail for a term of 30 months. I fucking hate politics, the game, the facade, the labels placed upon us all.

I grew up in Oklahoma and as such, I was given the legacy bestowed upon me by me "Democrat" father.  I place the word Democrat in parenthesis as his version of Democrat does not jive with the culture of today.  I clearly recall my father being a hard working American man who would drive me through the northeast sections of Oklahoma City, pointing out the people who chose to sit on their porches instead of working.  He called them many names. He routinely used the "N" word and referred to them as porch monkeys. 

He told me his tax dollars were allowing them to live on their porches. I didn't understand his words at the time but I could taste his hate.  I rebelled against it, arguing with him in my uneducated 11 year old brain.  I insisted he could not understand their plight for he had not walked in their shoes.  He told me they didn't need shoes on the front porch. (Insert internal soul-killing death scream here.)

Living in Wisconsin for the past ten years, working in a politically conservative environment, I have hidden my Democratic roots.  I have been told many times, my actual philosophies align more with the Republicans and I know that is true when it comes to taxes, for God's sake, that was a real eye-opener moving up here.  But, I have held onto my beliefs because I cannot stand the soap box diatribes from those that would like to condemn homosexuals, women who have had abortions and people who need a helping hand from time to time.  I do not like to judge.  I do not care for people who judge and I believe in extending an open arm to those who find themselves in need of a little help from their friends.

But today, I am ashamed to call myself a Democrat.  I work hard for my money.  My company has been forced to cut raises, bonuses, incentives, holiday parties, monthly luncheons, technology upgrades and staff.  I have watched my co-workers walk to their cars with boxes in hand.  I have endured annual increases on health insurance, with this year being the worst - nearly 40%.  I am on my own, raising my children with no help, no support and my salary has regressed as raises diminish and health insurance costs rise. 

Today I witnessed no less than 15 schools in the state of Wisconsin shut down because the teachers took a day off to protest at the state Capitol in Madison.  Today I saw thousands of people demanding, expecting; nay,  feeling entitled to a set of rights I have never been given, never offered, never even considered as a possibility.  Today I am proud of our newly elected Governor because I believe sometimes you have to break necks to cash checks. 

I am not ready to call myself a R....R...Re....Rep...Republican. I don't like labels.  Never have, never will.  But I want to say to that group of cowardly politicians that fled the state to avoid the new sheriff in town, you have shown your true colors and they are yellow.  You were elected to stand up for us, not to run.  I'm not sure if I've made this absolutely clear but I hate politics and hate is the strongest word in my arsenal.  Imagine myself and my fellow senior managers catching wind of an uprising among the workers in our company.  Let's say the accountants are feeling under appreciated during their busiest time of the year and they are screaming at us for the high cost of health insurance.  They took pay cuts for two years straight and yet, they work harder than ever. But that is not going to happen because you know what?  They have a job.  They are employed and in this economy, they have accepted the sacrifices because the alternative is much worse.

Why then?  Why do all these people march on the capitol of my state and insist they should be treated better than I, better than my co-workers, better than most of the hard working American citizens, including my late, misguided, uninformed father?  Why?

I am at a crucible. My brain is telling me to write something my heart does not want to believe. Was my father right?  Was my registered Democrat, Reagan hating father spot on in one respect? Should people be entitled to that which another is not?  His characterizations were based on racist principles; those that my heart shall never embrace.

But today, it was not about race.  It was not about poverty or privilege.  It was about a man whom I formerly placed in the category of a cad.  Not my father, but the former Milwaukee County Executive, now Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.  I categorized him based upon my ex-husband's affiliation with him.  "He is one of them". Just another politician, well spoken, family man - probably stealing money on the side or sleeping with staffers.  I have met him, sat across a luncheon table with him, liked him and appreciated what he was doing for Milwaukee County but jaded I was.  Jaded, for sure.

Jaded no more.  For you, Mr. Governor sir, I respect.  And God only knows how utterly difficult that is for me to admit.


  1. I generally vote democratic, but it's not a hard and fast rule with me. For one thing, I just don't get unions. They're not as prevalent in the South and, for the life of me, I don't understand the entitled mentality that thinks things like health insurance should be free. I went two years without a raise and then got a whopping two percent. I'm glad to be employed. I wish my pay was more and my insurance was less. Who doesn't?

  2. Public sector employees usually trade wages for benefits, and they rarely get a pay raise, or receive a bonus. They usually have more job security. The fight in Wisconsin isn't about the budget, the employees have said they would accept pay and benefit cuts, it is about breaking the unions.
    Unions traditionally support Democrats, and if they can be destroyed it improves the election chances for the Republicans longterm

  3. HIF - I agree. I had never encountered unions until I moved up here. Funny thing is, when we choose contractors, we can go with union shops or non-union shops. If we want to pay less, we go to non-union shops, who wouldn't? I just don't get it.

    Mark - I would agree with you as far as wages and benefits in Oklahoma. Penny told me what you are paying her after 25 years of experience! It is a crime what teachers make there. But here, most of the teachers I know make as much or more as private sector employees. That's why I pay 3 to 4 times more on my property taxes. I have watched the strong teachers union here elect one bad governor after another. They are a powerful force indeed. Now we have a 3 billion dollar deficit in our state budget and a governor brave enough to do something about it.

    As I said earlier, I disdain politics. I just want reasonable taxes and elected officials to do what we elected them to do. Such a rarity.

  4. I wouldn't get too upset about the missing democrats. That's all stage and theatre. They did it here in Texas before and I'm sure many other states as well.

    I, too, am someone who never grew up with unions and am completely bewildered by this "show." I would never expect a pension. Isn't that what my 401k is for?

    It seems everyone knows sacrifices will have to be made. But noone seems willing to do it. It's ok if someone else has to sacrifice, just not me? Time to wake up people.


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