Saturday, August 6, 2011

Issue #17- August 6, 2011 Get Out the Vote!!!

What This Is…
Issue #17- August 6, 2011, Get Out the Vote Weekend!!  Take a moment between recall activities and get some information about voting, Washington D.C. and a few more reasons to vote Democrat. 

One Day Closer…
We are in the final weekend before the August 9th recall elections (to repeat, not the August 11th elections).  I've made this plea before, but will do so again:
Find a way to get involved
in the recalls during the next few days!!

Everyone has skills and strengths that can be used for the cause.  I'm repeating the information about volunteer opportunities that was given earlier this week.  However, if these times don't work, contact an organization of your choice.  They will be able to find some way to put you to work at a time that works for your schedule.    

The Wisconsin Democratic Party also has opportunities to volunteer.  They are located at 1314 N. Stoughton Rd in the Teamster's Union offices.  Opportunities are:
            August 6 and 7- 12-3
            August 8- 5-8 PM

There are also opportunities to do exit polling in Hopper's, Olsen's and Darling's districts on election day.
             *To Volunteer, please contact: marymagnuson@ElectionDefen​

Election Night Sing-A-Long and Results Watching-  State St. side of the capitol from 8-9 PM on August 9th.  Plenty of places will be gathering points for watching results come in.

Some of the top complaints (from all political persuasions) for as long as I can remember has been that "government is out of touch" and "those politicians don't represent the 'regular American". 

Just look at the events of the past few weeks and the response to these events.  The debate over the debt ceiling is a great example of the disconnect between a majority of voters and the leaders of our country.  The crisis was confusing to most citizens and even our political leaders seemed unsure exactly what would happen as the situation unfolded.  A relatively small number of legislators were able to manipulate the situation to further their agenda.  When a resolution to the conflict was reached, it seemed no political groups were happy.  At the end of the day, this became another reason for people to disengage from politics.

It is true that most people in the United States don't participate in politics.  They may listen to a radio show, watch the news, read articles on the internet or get information in other ways.  The real measure of participation is voter turnout and we have a miserable record here.  For example, Governor Walker's mandate for change consists of 52.3% of the votes cast.  However, only about 25% of voters in Wisconsin cast ballots for governor that year.  Even the high interest races like the spring election between Prosser and Kloppenburg drew only 1,500,113 votes out of an estimated 4,372,347 eligible Wisconsin voters.  That was considered a high turnout for an election of that type.  The recall election where Sen. Hansen was the winner turned out about 37% of the electorate.

No wonder politicians are not in touch with the voters, the voters aren't reaching out to touch the politicians.  In a representative democracy like ours participation in elections is vital to promoting a healthy government.  Without high voter turnout and other ways of participating (correspondence, rallies, etc.) leaders become more and more isolated from the people they represent.

The signs are encouraging here in Wisconsin.  More and more people are engaged and participating in politics.  However, the real measure will come in the next couple of weeks.  If a significant number of citizens don't choose to cast a ballot it will be disappointing.  Do we want a "democracy" where less than half of the population utilizes their most powerful political tool?  It is the job of every citizen to promote participation in elections.  That is how we can get government to respect people, not lobbyists and donors.

Washington D.C.
On July 29th about 80 Wisconsin teachers and family members boarded a bus to head to the Save Our Schools Rally in Washington D.C.  We met up with over 100 other Wisconsin citizens and about 5,000 supporters of public education from many states.  My high school son made a video of our trip using pictures/video that he took along with some pictures/video from a variety of other sources. 

It Only Hurts When I l Laugh…
It is important to keep some sort of balance in our personal lives as we negotiate our way through current events.  Humor is one way of dealing with the stress.  Here are a couple of funny bits about situations that aren't funny at all.

And then there are those moments that make you want to stand up and cheer.  Many of you have seen this, but…

The best part about this video is that the rest of the "documentary" that this is taken from is very conservative in tone and tries to make teachers look bad.  Reason TV is promoted as libertarian, and touts itself as a place for "Free Minds and Free Markets".  I loved Drew Carey in "Who's Line", but can't say the same for his politics.

Who Can You Trust?…
I'm sure you've all heard about the mailings in Wisconsin from AFP.  I am sharing this again because these actions are so disgustingly blatant in their disregard for any moral values.

All political parties and organizations promote their own agenda using statistics and data.  I just wish that our leaders would research more and have a better understanding of the facts they are putting out for public consumption.  I also wish that the press would do a better job of analyzing what they are told and not just repeat what political figures say.  Our news shouldn't be blatantly biased by ignorance.
Politicians like Grothman further distort issues that are already confusing and this leads to comments like this one from

Kudos to Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, for his proposal to end 4-year-old kindergarten in Wisconsin.  It is no more than free childcare for parents at taxpayer expense and additional employment for teachers. These very young children need to be at home with their mothers for proper nurturing.  Educators attempt to justify their position on this issue with test scores. There's more to life than numbers.

Just so I understand, if the scores are bad it's because teachers aren't doing their job, if the scores improve then "there's more to life than numbers."

Most of us agree that economics at a national level is confusing.  However, the bottom line is that we need more people working.  Then demand for products will go up as people have money to spend, tax revenue will increase and many of our current problems will be alleviated.  What do tax breaks for corporations do to promote job growth?  Most of the data I see directly contradicts the claims that tax breaks for the upper income earners means quality employment for more people.

Once again there is confusion about the issue of tax breaks.  On Shelly Moore's Facebook page there were comments that it would help if farmers paid their fair share.  These same comments insinuated that Moore wrote, and benefits from farm subsidies.  I'm sure the comment writers feel the same way about corporate tax breaks. 

It gets harder and harder to listen to the inconsistencies and covert (or maybe overt) discrimination in policies supported by conservative leadership.  As funding is cut for reproductive health care, public transportation, public education,  and other areas it is troubling to look at who benefits from the cuts.  It is even more troubling to look at who is hurt.

  Being Right is Nice, but…
It is important that we stop the trend towards consolidation of power in the hands of a few  people.  An author, Reinhold Niebuhr (who's writing influenced Rev. King), wrote in his book Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932) that, "Disproportion of power in society is the real root of social injustice." In the same book he wrote, "Economic power is more basic than political power."  It is easy to see how economic power in the hands of a small number of people will lead to control of political power with the result being social injustice.  America today has some of the widest gaps between rich and poor in our history.  That combined with the Supreme Court rulings that money is speech means that the wealthy have unprecedented power in shaping our political landscape.

One troubling aspect of politics is the fact that doing what is right isn't always politically possible or  practical.  Niebuhr noted that because of inequalities, "relations between groups must therefore always be predominantly political rather than ethical.  So, if you follow this hierarchy in order of power, economic power is strongest, then political power and last comes ethics.  These aren't listed in order of importance, but rather in terms of influence.  A rather bleak picture until one realizes that we still live in a democracy where one person gets one vote.   

The power of the ballot in the hands of an informed citizen is the only real defense against the domination of our government by a wealthy minority.

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