Sorry I’m not still in Madison? Yes and no…

Last month, I sublet my East Mifflin Street apartment about four blocks off the Capitol Square in Madison, where I had been living during the week since July.  Each morning for nearly six months, I would walk to the Capitol, where I had a key to get in and go to work in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.  There was a bit of coverage when I left Wausau for this sojourn, since I was the longest currently-serving elected official in Wausau city government at that time. But it was something that I needed to do when the opportunity came up and I’m happy that I did.

As I’m reconnecting with people in Wausau now, the most common thing I hear is this: “I thought you were in Madison!”  I explain that with the end of Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton’s term, I’m now back in Wausau full-time.  But over the last couple of weeks, there is a follow-up: “I bet you wish you were down there now!” or alternatively: “I’ll bet you’re glad you’re not down there now!” 

Well, that’s kind of an interesting thought — but you have to remember that if I was down there now in the capacity that I had served in, none of this would be happening at all. It isn’t because I would have been able to prevent it. It’s because if I was still there, Scott Walker wouldn’t be governor. Barbara Lawton stood with Wisconsin workers and it was more than once that people recalled to me that she stood with Tyson Foods workers in Jefferson on the picket line or showed leadership to defend economic opportunity for Wisconsin citizens, women, veterans and others. 

I ran into Barbara Lawton last Saturday in the Capitol.  We both stand with Wisconsin workers and against the Koch machine, as it tries to steamroll the rights and opportunities of this state’s public employees.  We know that the lower standard of living that these people are trying to set in Wisconsin will not stop with public employee unions.  It’s about a few incredibly wealthy people getting even more at the expense of millions of others getting less. It’s unfortunate that there are still a lot of people who don’t get it, but that’s what it is, pure and simple. (I don’t say any of this an attempt to speak for Barbara Lawton because anyone who knows her would also know that she speaks for herself. I say it simply because I know it to be true.)

So am I sorry I’m not in Madison right now? I’m happy to be back in my own home in Wausau.  But as for the larger question and all that it means, I really don’t know. 

JR

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3 Responses to “Sorry I’m not still in Madison? Yes and no…”

  1. As an independent (fiscally very conservative but on social issues, very liberal), I have found myself voting democratic quite a bit…. and this is the perfect example as to why.

    When my conservative (read as Republican) friends ask me how I can vote for democrats I simply say this…

    Democrats have shown a history of trying to take my money away that I work very hard for. Republicans have shown a history of trying to take away rights that I have been willng to give my life to defend.

    If the Dem’s redistribute wealth and take away my money, I can work to make more. If I cannot make more, eventually I will transform from a “have” to a “have not” and will find myself on the recieving end of the wealth distribution.

    On the other hand.. once a right is taken away… it is gone and very very very difficult to restore.

    In my mind, small government means not only in size, but in reach. Republicans have shown a recent history of making government more intrusive in my life, not less… so until I get a good “none of the above” choice, I am going to lean pretty heavily toward the D’s.

    (I will admit though, there will be no tears shed by me if some of the power of unions over local governments and schools gets rolled back at least a little bit)

  2. In a way, I wish we could go back to the late 1960s when the cool guy in the Governor’s Office was Warren P. Knowles, a Republican with somewhat progressive leanings from a small town in Western Wisconsin called New Richmond. Knowles was a career politician serving in the Wisconsin State Senate, and later elected Governor in 1964.

    Few people remember Warren Knowles as being conservation minded and yet he is so honored along with Gaylord Nelson. Knowles did call out the National Guard a few times to help maintain order during the anti-war protests of the Vietnam Era. Knowles was the kind of governor that made living in Wisconsin feel so good.

  3. And that is why they call it the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund. (Of course, Gov. Walker has already suspended funding.)

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