I had a chance to be interviewed for our local news yesterday (about today's downtown holiday open house). Naturally, out of the 10 minutes of interview, they picked my least favorite sentence. Which leaves me stewing just a little bit this morning. Being a not-so-articulate introvert, I often find myself with such morning-after regrets -- wishing I could have been more articulate on the spot, thinking up better answers long after the opportunity is gone.
But it also challenges me a bit because I can have the tendency to believe in figures of authority (in this case the media); to believe in the truth and accuracy of what I am hearing. Not unlike my experience this year with the discrepancy between media reports and my on-the-ground experience of working two blocks away from the protests.
Which brings me to the actual topic of this blog post. You betcha we're collecting signatures. Recall petition signatures, that is. For the recall of Wisconsin's Governor and Lt. Governor. Now, it seems a little tiring, even to me, that the topic keeps coming up in the news. And since I already signed, I'm not so keen on having people ask me wherever I go. Clearly the Republicans are very worried about shoppers being "harrassed." That said, any time I have passed a signature-collector, we just nod and make eye contact. They have never been the first to speak and there is no intrusion at all upon my day. I can see that if you are against the recall process, their very presence might be considered an intrusion. Then again, the pro Walker bumper stickers are an intrusion on my day. I like to think we at least have an ideal of a free country, where we can still disagree without being disagreeable, where people have the freedom to speak, and the freedom to pursue their vision for the world they want to live in. Some malls have already banned signature collectors from their property and Republicans are encouraging other businesses to do the same (so says the news anyway). And, fine, perhaps you don't want your holiday shopping mixing with your politics. To be honest, I find that sentiment kind of ridiculous. Basically, the message I hear is, "la la la, never mind what's going on in the state, just come and spend money." Yet, what is going on in the state IS about money, and, for many many people, it is affecting how much money they will have to go shopping.
From the beginning we have had moral and Christian reservations about Governor Walker's actions. My dad will argue that church and state need to be separated but I really believe that at their best, church and state are working for the same end, the collective body working together, sharing resources for the good of all. "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do so unto me" or something like that.
But we also feel that Governor Walker's actions threaten the existence of our business. Honestly, it seems only commonsense, though many businesses don't seem to adhere to such practices - but isn't it our best interest to think about our customers' best interests? The small tax break that the Governor offers does little to offset the reduced paychecks of our customers. Therefore we feel very strongly that we must do whatever we can to protect our customers, our livelihood, and our home state.
On a related note, I am SO tired of media (local and national) saying that this is about collective bargaining. Yes, that is one aspect of the issues facing Wisconsin but it is really only one of many. As long as we reduce the issues to that single issue, it is too easy to say this is a battle between unions and free enterprise, between state and private. Sachi and I have been wrestling with our "top 10" list and have trouble making it something that would appear on Letterman. But I was pleased yesterday to read in The Cap Times the following letter to the editor, which pretty much hits all the concerns I have, though I can always keep adding to the list (like concentrating power in the Governor's office by making more positions Governor-appointed...):
"I want my Wisconsin back
Dear Editor: I am a believer in the rights of the people of Wisconsin. Those rights are being eroded daily by the Walker administration. Among my concerns:
1. Funding for Planned Parenthood was blocked.
2. Tax cuts for the wealthy are promoted over the needs of the people.
3. Cuts have been made to health care for those who need it most.
4. Local jobs have been outsourced to other states.
5. Redistricting maps were drawn that divide communities.
6. "No compromise" is the motto.
7. Our environment has been sold out; high speed rail and wind energy possibilities have been cut.
8. Road construction was chosen over education.
9. Public workers were denied the right to bargain.
10. Voter participation has been restricted through voter ID and redistricting.
11. The Koch brothers and ALEC's agenda is being followed, not the needs and wishes of Wisconsin residents.
I want my Wisconsin back - the Wisconsin where citizens were respected, listened to and given a voice. We have been lied to long enough. The behind-the scenes power grabbing has got to stop."
And if any of those actions strike you as wrong and counter to the kind of state you want to make home, we hope you'll sign the petition to Recall Governor Walker. Petitions seem to be readily available, from my own experience, but if you can't find one, please do check the United Wisconsin website (which also has its own top 10 list).. or just ask us when you are next downtown. No purchase necessary.