In case you missed the memo, today is election day in Wisconsin. If you’re going to vote for Barrett, go vote!
Yesterday I had a great deal of fun while killing myself with too much canvassing. During my first turf, I met a lady who claimed she’s a life-long Democrat voting for Walker. She was horrified by the senators fleeing the state, and thinks the Recall is a waste of time and money, etc. “I’m a life-long not-Democrat who called my Senator to thank him for leaving, and am so horrified by what the Republicans are doing I’m on your porch and would like to argue with you. Do you mind?” She did not mind. It was awesome. No minds were changed, but I knew there had to be somebody like her out there in the world, and I got to be the one to find her.
Honestly, I’ve been getting so much awesome sent my way in the last ten days, I’m terrified we’re about to lose big just for cosmic balance. Yeah, my superstitious tendencies are weirdly paranoid.
On my third turf out yesterday (lesson learned: two turf limit!), I made a woman cry by agreeing with her. I have no idea whether she was a Barrett supporter or a Walker supporter, though given the targeting of the list I was working probably the former. She was one of the last doors I hit, and apparently I was the last of the four groups out canvassing to reach her. She’d also been called several times, and has apparently been watching TV and listening to the radio. In short, she was very stressed and well past her tolerance for being campaigned at. I just let her go, venting about how everything has divided the state, how fortunately she still gets along with her neighbors but that’s not the case for many other people, how of course everybody is going to vote and they made up their minds months ago so could we all just go home and stop wasting our time and bothering people? I did a lot of nodding and making sympathetic noises, and by the time she was done she was crying. If I were a nicer person, I’d have offered her a hug. It didn’t even occur to me she might want one until I’d walked away.
Here’s the thing; her facts were wrong, but her sentiments were right. It’s not a waste of time to canvass, because people are crap at actually going and voting, and this election is going to be all about turnout. The state was deeply divided before the Recall efforts started, it was just easier for people to ignore. I mentioned all of that to her, and she nodded and kept going because at this point, for her, the technicalities of the situation don’t matter anymore. She’s had this huge, ginormous, high-stakes thing thrown at her all out of sync with how it’s supposed to work, and she’s in for five more months of this for the presidential election after today. It’s overwhelming, and hostile, and unfair and the only way for her to escape it is to cut off her media access to the outside world, and to stop answering her phone and door.
This in a state with a reputation for frustrating pollsters because people don’t talk politics, even to strangers for science.
This election is absurd on so many levels, I have trouble communicating it. Part of that, for me, is my confusion that locking the capital and violating the open meetings laws not only aren’t such an outrage that those alone are enough to guarantee a successful election, but that I seem to be the only person still talking about them. It’s really hard for me to disagree with people arguing that the recall is just a bunch of sore losers out for retribution when their campaign looks exactly like that. But this recall isn’t about rehashing 2010, at least not for me. The Democrats stayed home, and they got what they deserved. Maybe they’ll learn their lesson and show up next time, end of story. I’m okay with that story.
What I’m not okay with is a government which has rules about how it goes about being the government, and doesn’t follow them. The Republicans saying, “Hey, we’ve got both houses of the legislature and the Governor’s office, we’re doing what we like and you’re going to suck it up,” makes them assholes, but that’s what you get for letting them win. It’s the Republicans saying, “We have the majorities, so now we’re above the rules,” where the line gets drawn. This recall is about saying, hey, we’re not anarchists for a reason. The Game is badly designed, rigged, and full of idiots and jerks and people who don’t play with the same win conditions, but there are rules to the Game, and if they aren’t going to be followed, then I may as well turn anarchist.
I think, in a way, that’s what overwhelmed my crying lady. Everything is falling apart, nobody is actually talking about it, and she can’t cope. Losing today means that over a year ago, Scott Walker dissolved the government of Wisconsin, and got away with it. Winning today means, not that the government got saved, because nobody’s running on saving the government, but that Scott Walker dissolved the government of Wisconsin, and got slapped for it. Whether we’re still facing anarchy is a whole other question.
I really should have offered that lady a hug.