My vote note. There are some geographic specifics, but, on the whole, I think the note is pertinent no matter where you are reading this.
If there's only one message that I need to convey in this post, it is this: vote vote vote on April 5th. Vote absentee if you need to, but, please, I'm begging, vote.
It is so easy to feel helpless or hopeless or powerless, to feel uninterested or busy with other things. And it is in some peoples' interests for you to stay that way. But it is NOT in your interest. We all matter. You matter, I matter. We cannot be a silent majority, especially when a vocal 20% claims that they are the majority. In silence, there is consent and disagreement, there is assumption, there is any number of things, but there is not knowledge or power of any effect in these days. I read a quote once from a religious leader who was dealing with some controversy in his community. He said, "20% think it is an abomination to believe this way, 20% think it is an abomination NOT to believe this way, and the other 60% wish we could all just get along." Perhaps the 60% that wishes we could just get along needs to be louder than the rest, I don't know, I just know that 'silent majority' is an irksome phrase to me. I think between ourselves (even inside our own selves) we might have extremes that seem incompatible, and it is easy to get caught up in the extremes and the "sides," but there is still a core that is love and peace and justice and creativity and if we can all tap into that core, that, I believe, is our only hope of moving forward instead of bouncing back and forth between "sides."
Our votes and our voices matter. You WILL be affected by everything that plays out in the national, state, county and local levels and on YOU is the responsibility of our taxpaying and shopping and working. So please vote.
You could stop there if you like. What follows are my reasons and my endorsements. Perhaps my reasons are your reasons to vote the opposite of me, perhaps reading my reasons will cause you to dislike me for my political or religious views. I am optimistic that we have other histories and connections that strengthen our relationship and I believe we have things in common in our hearts. But I will not be silent on the matter.
First, money. I know, it is not all about money, but there's no denying its role. I have no regrets at all about leaving my job to start a business but the halving of my income has been a challenge for my single-income single life. There was a glimmer of hope at Christmastime, that customers were seeing the end to the recession, and that perhaps I wouldn't have to get a third job and could rely on the growth of our business to pay the bills. And yet, in the past six weeks, what I hear from my customers (over and over and over again) are their fears and uncertainties about their own income, which naturally translates to uncertainty about my future. Quite frankly, the actions being taken at the state level seem only to be prolonging the recession. Because, yes, these are our teachers and our state office workers, our students, and our farmers and seniors (the list goes on), but they are also our customers. We are all connected and we cannot have success ourselves if it is at cost to other people. So, yes, I am concerned about politics because whatever corporate tax break I get (perhaps a few hundred dollars) will in no way offset the reduction in customer spending. In turn, this reduces the amount of money that I pay the state of Wisconsin in sales and other taxes. And it also reduces the amount of money that we pay to our consignment artists - some 60 local and independent artists.
On another money note, I don't understand this whole anti-tax movement. I LIKE the things that my taxes pay for. I like children occupied with art programs and fed by after-school programs, I like my police and firefighters at the ready, I like parks and preserved wetlands. I'd like a lot more proactive spending of my tax dollar and less spent on putting people in jail and sending them to war (but those are never the things that are on the table to cut). I feel blessed in my own life and I am quite happy to pay for those blessings. Quite honestly, I feel like we get a really good deal for our tax dollar and all the state employees that I know are very passionate and hard-working individuals. I also highly doubt the ability of Capitalism and corporations to do all that needs to be done in the world and I question anyone who believes that private enterprise is the be-all end-all to our woes.
Second, morality. At heart, what I take from my United Church of Christ upbringing is to "do unto others as you'd have done to you." My objection to many peoples' behavior is that they treat other people in ways that they would never tolerate themselves being treated. This might be too "Wisconsin nice" but I wholeheartedly believe in extending to everyone the courtesy, respect, rights and privileges that I myself expect. I strongly object to the behavior of Walker and the Republicans in office because I highly doubt that they would tolerate being treated that way.
Furthermore, growing up with my sister cultivated a strong sense of fairness (to the extreme, I'll admit - you should see how long it took us to divvy up a piece of cake). Ultimately, the concentration of wealth among the top 1% of this nation is something that I believe will be our downfall and needs to be fought against. We are making judgments about who is more valuable and deserving and in doing so we are missing out on aspects and contributions of many other people - all of which are necessary to a successful nation. I believe it is our moral duty to share the wealth that we have and work towards a world that is more equitable.
Third, balance, compromise, the American way. Whether you agree or disagree with me about the above points, whether you are more inclined than I am to support the actions of our state government, I hope that we can agree that the United States works (at least the theory of it works) because it gives everyone the opportunity to speak freely with their voices, their pocketbooks and their votes. Even when someone has a "majority," that does not mean they are now king or god. Our government is structured so that there is a balance of power. And just in case you think I am a minority squealing about silly things, I would ask you to consider putting yourself in my position. How will you feel when there is a Governor you don't like who now has all the power that Walker has granted that office? To make decisions and appointments without checking in with the public or people who are experts in the field? Even if I liked a person, I really don't think they should have that much power.
All right, so there's the summary of my thoughts on the matter, here is how I am voting:
1. Wisconsin Supreme Court JoAnne Kloppenburg: If there was ever a moment when we needed an independent third branch of government, this would be it. The Republicans in office seem to be marching along with the Governor in ways that I find highly objectionable and unconstitutional. It is more than likely that some of these issues will find their way to the Supreme Court. When they do, I would like to think they will be met by blindfolded Justice and I don't trust Prosser to be impartial or independent.
"We must have a truly nonpartisan and independent Supreme Court to check and balance the other two branches. Unfortunately, I do not believe that Justice Prosser can be an independent jurist, based on prior statements and decisions. I am therefore endorsing JoAnne Kloppenburg in the upcoming General Election to replace Justice Prosser and to restore faith in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the court." Marla Stephens
2. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi: See above on matters of taxes and Capitalism, the latter of which I think Eileen Bruskewitz relies too heavily upon.
"The support of Sheriff Mahoney and the Dane County Sheriff’s Deputies is the latest endorsement for Parisi. Joe has also been endorsed by current Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Dane County Board Chair Scott McDonell and 22 County Board Supervisors, Former Dane County Executive Rick Phelps, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, former Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke, former Deputy Secretary of Commerce Zach Brandon, labor unions including International Painters and Allied Trades Local 802, United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 314, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159, Democratic Assembly leaders inside and outside of Dane County, women leaders across Dane County, and leading environmental advocates."
3. advisory referenda on the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision "yes" and "yes": First of all, the amount of money that is spent on campaigns is quite sickening to me. I believe we are in need of more restrictions, not less, and I would love it if that extra money just went straight to the food pantry. If corporations want to be treated like people and have the rights of free speech and anything else, they cannot cherrypick their rights and responsibilities, no more than we can. In short, they should be paying taxes. If it were up to me, we would each get one dollar and one vote.
4. Madison Mayor.... I don't know! I'm totally undecided. I have people who I respect on both sides of the matter. In this, and in fact, in all of my endorsements, I welcome your input.
Through all of the hubbub (I decline to call it chaos because that implies some element that wasn't present out on the Capitol lawn, though I can't speak of inside the offices) of the last month, one thing that remains is my belief that we will never get anywhere if we stop talking to each other. Silence will not do. We need to share our stories and listen to each other, we need to grow beyond our simple presumptions and categories and find things that we can agree upon. It is not always easy but if we can listen with love, even to the pain that lies underneath the hatred, maybe we can make this whole thing work. I have serious concerns that life is going to get more difficult for more people, and that their anger and hostility is only going to intensify. It is up to all of us to continue to the conversation and to continue to work for a better life for all.
"Listen, here's what I think. I think we can't go 'round measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include." - from the movie 'Chocolat'
"In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants & hold the world in arms grown strong with love & there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them." StoryPeople by Brian Andreas