As a poet and memoirist I typically write about remembered experiences, the people and events from my life, and the accompanying feelings. I often examine the meaning of those memories and how the people, places and things can inform my choices and help determine the direction of my path moving forward. I look back and reflect, and I practice mindfulness when I’m able (a challenge some days) and I visualize my future.
I’m also a novice activist-writer. I sometimes comment on issues that I hold close to my heart and reflect my personal values: LGBTQ and gender identity, feminism, civil rights, spiritual freedom, economic, gender, and class parity, gun control, substance abuse recovery, domestic violence and the protection and support of vulnerable populations including the mentally ill, homeless, children and the aged. Critically important is the intersectionality of these issues.
Occasionally I venture into and comment on mainstream politics which always seems like a minefield. This post is about the current political climate in my home state of Wisconsin. I enter the fray with trepidation.
First, let me state my baseline position. I’m a liberal; I’m a democrat, and more importantly I strive to be an independent thinker. When I say I’m a liberal I mean it in the manner Webster’s dictionary defines it. I’m not going to detail the ways the current Republican State Legislature in Wisconsin and Governor Scott Walker have pandered to corporate conservative lobbyists and donors, the religious right and the Tea Party Republicans. There are reporters and commentators more adept as journalists and watchdogs that do a fair and comprehensive reporting of the facts and provide defensible editorial opinions.
What I am going to address is how the state that I love, the place I have chosen to live and to thrive is being sold off by people more concerned with personal profit and political aspiration at the expense of the people they were elected to represent. When the residents of our State attempt to voice their disagreement with the intent and tactics of legislation being passed with limited debate and their voices are silenced, when we protest we are characterized as terrorists by Governor Scott Walker. He ingratiates himself with conservative campaign supporters as he unofficially seeks the Republican nomination for President. Social media is abuzz with portraits of grandmothers, teachers, firefighters, children, and families, including the working poor, uninsured and underrepresented who have marched on the Capitol in subzero weather by the thousands. We need to make our state blue again.
Yesterday there were protests at the State Capitol of the Right-to-Work legislation. Monday, 3/2, there will be more. I had a date with my friend Julie to see Forward Theater’s banned books monologue festival, Out of the Fire. The Overture Center is on State Street a little over a block away from the Capitol. While I waited for Julie, I watched the parade of mothers and fathers with their toddlers in strollers or children in tow, union workers, and college students, the disenfranchised, the unemployed or uninsured, carry signs and flags some handmade and some distributed by political action groups and unions, walk past the window and wave in solidarity. Some were headed to the Capitol while others returned home since the temperature posted subzero wind chills. What amazed me was that for every person who was on their way home there were two more walking in the opposite direction to take their place. These were not terrorists, these were the rank and file citizens of Wisconsin.
This is my niece Gemma in the top photo below from Valentine’s Day, 2012, the anniversary of the protests of ACT 10 at the State Capitol. We were there for the wedding of my sister Tami (Gemma’s mother) and her husband, Ron. Tami and Ron had to get a permit to get married that day in the Capitol and were limited to about 14 people (if my memory serves me). They were to be married in the rotunda which was filled with protesters. To the credit of the Capitol Police that day, they escorted the wedding party and guests to a 4th floor hearing room (once again if my memory serves me) for the marriage ceremony. In a synchronistic moment, Gemma is choosing buttons made by my friends at Arboretum Cohousing. I can vouch for Gemma that she is not a terrorist, but a young woman to watch for. She’s smart and creative, and she’s just one of thousands of reasons that we need to protect the progressive values and natural resources of our state, and do the right thing for the children and generations to come.
Here is my wish, my vision for reclaiming and restoring Wisconsin and returning it Back to Blue:
Restore Wisconsin’s progressive traditions and values and return to our State Capitol a governing and judicial body charged with defending the rights of its citizenry to engage freely in its political process, protect the environment and the State’s natural resources, educate its children and adults, invest in its schools, educators, and public workers, ensure the State’s workforce is represented in the workplace and guaranteed an opportunity to earn a living wage that supports a family. The State will care for its vulnerable citizens, provide access to healthcare, shelter, and food security, ensure safety from crime and abuse and the services needed to thrive. The State will promote local business, create jobs and invest in its infrastructure. Leaders are required to be fiscally responsible, legally and ethically accountable, and not leave a legacy of debt for future generations. Wisconsin First. Forward Wisconsin.
Lastly, as a person who considers herself spiritual not religious, I do pray and meditate. I offer this prayer for others like me who try and find our voices and speak up. Click on the link below: