Dear Wisconsin

It’s probably pretty obvious what I’m going to say, writing to you today, but I need to say it, and you need to hear it.

I’m leaving you.

It would be fair to say that I was always going to leave you, but that’s not true, is it?  There was a while there where you were acting like somewhere I’d be willing to make my home permanently, and I accepted that from you.  Ours was an arranged marriage from the start – I left Chicago to come here not because I wanted you, but because I was broke and in debt and needed the job only you were willing to offer me – but it could have grown into a love match.  We could have been partners and allies and lovers into my gray years.  I’m hugely allergic to you, and you’re just about the only place I seem to have allergies, but I was willing to overlook that to have what you were offering.

You know what I’m talking about.  You did it on purpose, a lure designed to soften me to your charms and offerings.  You got me invested.  You got me interested and involved.  You made promises.  And then you were too ham-fisted, fumblingly incompetent to deliver on them.  You were weak.  Your were pathetic.  You were embarrassing.  That is a seven point spread I will hold against you forever.

Make no mistake – I am angry with you.  I have been angry with you for two years.  I am going to be angry with you for a long, long time.  I worked hard for you and you betrayed me.    You have some serious, deep, self-loathing issues and I am beyond caring about what that does to you because first, I’ve got to deal with the fallout of what it did to me.  I am finished with you.  I’m out of here.

Two years is a long time to wait.  You could call me petty, or unforgiving for holding onto it this long without doing something before.  That’d be fair.  I shouldn’t have trusted you, shouldn’t have stopped clearing my exits just because it looked like we might have a permanent thing going.  I shouldn’t have gotten so invested that even now, two years later, I can barely have a civil conversation about what went on between us.  That’s on me.  I’ll accept that.  But the right solution is the same.

I don’t care what you do in your next election.  Go hang yourself.  I’ll be making my way out to Seattle.  Washington has its own set of problems and issues, but we’ll be starting on better terms, and at the very least I won’t be compromising on my basic infrastructure preferences and my ability to breathe for three quarters of the year.

I’d wish you the best going forward, but I really don’t care as long as you’re not my problem any more.

A Bounty-ful Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I’ve been in a bad mood for a couple weeks, and have decided that for my birthday, I will give myself the means to cure it.  That’s what this is.

I am, as of this moment, putting a bounty on Scott Walker’s governorship.  Anybody who can demonstrate that they are the proximal cause of Scott Walker resigning as governor of Wisconsin will receive a bounty of not less than $1,000.  That’s what I’m putting into the pot, though if other people are willing to contribute, I will organize it and post the updated totals.

If you offer Scott Walker a job that is so good, he resigns to take it, I will give you $1,000.

If you dig up a scandal so egregious that Scott Walker resigns in shame, I will give you $1,000 (and mad props, because I can’t imagine what would actually shame him into resigning)

If you do something illegal that causes Scott Walker to resign, I will first consult a lawyer, then if I’m told it won’t get me sent to jail, I will give you $1,000.

I am not soliciting anything illegal.  If your plot for getting Walker to resign requires illegal action and you go through with it, that is up to you and done on your own responsibility.

I’m also willing to pay out the bounty in goods of equal value if, for some reason, you’d prefer that.

This is not a joke.  I am dead serious.  If you want to help, or have an idea, contact me.  This is plan B, and I’m ready to work just as hard on it as I did on plan A.

Fuck democracy.

Election Day

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.

One Big Day

Tomorrow is kinda a big deal – election day.  I’ve been repeating a lot of themes over the last week, so I’ll put them all here to keep people from having to ask the same questions again and again.

First, all celebrating I do tomorrow and, really, up through Friday, is going to be because oen way or another, this is over.  On Friday, I may be willing to celebrate victory or cope with defeat, but given past electoral history in Wisconsin, and the fact that absentee ballots, of which there are a lot, don’t have to be received until Friday, I’m going to go ahead and assume nothing is certain before then.  I’d advise you to do the same.

Secondly, ignore all the polls and the doom, gloom and dismay people seem to be having in response to them.  All of the ones with sound methodology are within the margin of error, all the ones without wind up that way when corrected.  This election is going to come down to turn out, plain and simple.  We wouldn’t be in this situation if the Democrats hadn’t stayed home in 2010, so hopefully they’ve learned their lesson.  If GOTV is as organized in the rest of the state as it is in Madison, I’m pretty confident we’ll do well.  The ground game is, for once, well run.  We can thank the Obama campaign for that.  Walker doesn’t have a ground game, as far as I can tell, just tons of money.

Thirdly, even for people who aren’t in Wisconsin, this election should be fascinating to you.  You’d be hard pressed to find a better experiment for testing the actual efficacy of money in politics.  The Republicans have dramatically more money than the Democrats in this fight; the Democrats have dramatically more volunteer and organizational support.  If the Republicans win, everybody upset by the Citizens United ruling has a much better case for their position than I have, up to this point, felt they have.  If the Democrats win, I’ll probably actually sit down and write that blog post about money in politics that’s been stewing in the back of my head for a while.  (In other words, I’m waiting to make sure I’m right before telling other people to quit whining.  Being wrong on the internet is for other people)

Finally, if you are an eligible voter in Wisconsin, I strongly urge you to go vote tomorrow, if you haven’t already, and to vote for Barrett.  If you aren’t going to vote for Barrett, I strongly urge you to instead avoid the lines and stay home.  Watch a movie or something.  Of course everybody should have their say in government, but just now, there are certain says I’m not interested in hearing.  I’m sure you understand.

Recall Primary Voting Today

If you’re an eligible Wisconsin voter, today is the last day for voting in the Recall primaries.  There are roughly four candidates you can vote for to help get rid of the guy who took away my train, went about being evil badly, then trapped me in a building with people who are not nerds for a week.  I can’t let that kind of behavior slide, and neither should you.

He’s also driven a few industries out of the state, is under investigation for major ethics violations, and signed really egregious anti-women’s-health legislation, if you’d like more common reasons for being upset.

Protect the world from boring mis-management: Get rid of Walker.  Today.  By voting.


(I voted for Art about ten days ago.  This is encouraged, but not required.)

Canvassing Stories

“Hi.  My name is Anaea and I’m a volunteer with the Madison Southwest…”

“Don’t want any!”

I mildly enjoy canvassing.  The weather’s been nice, and it’s a good excuse to go walking through neighborhoods, house by house, and see what different segments of the neighborhoods look like.  You can tell when you’re on a street full of rental properties versus young couples versus older people nearing or in retirement.  The rental properties feel shabby even when they aren’t, and the older people have immaculate yards full of gorgeous bulbs.  My Realtor brain goes nuts for studying neighborhoods at this level.  I learn more in an hour than I do on dozens of property tours.

“We’re a community organization going around our local district in preparation for the upcoming gubernatorial election.”

“You’re wasting your time.”

Last summer, when I was spending about 20 hours a week just on phone banking, my brain was threatening to dribble out my ears.  One evening, I’d been home about ten minutes and was hanging out downstairs to keep from stalking Sylvie while she finished up cooking dinner, a college kid showed up at the door, canvassing for some progressive charity something something.  He clearly had a long spiel that was going to end in asking for time and money, and since it was getting late, I didn’t want him to waste time at our door when the neighbors might well actually help him.  “We’re exhausted and over-committed to causes already.  Good luck, but we can’t help you,” I said.  He stalked off, snarling, “Be that way!”

“I’ve just got three quick questions for you.  First, are you registered to vote?”

If you’ve not seen me irate in person before, you’ll have trouble picturing how quickly that kid pissed me off.  “Wait one minute,” brain-dribbly, exhausted me said.  “That is not okay. Now you’ve irritated me and you ought to be making friends.”  He protested that I’d been rude by not at least letting him spend the five minutes talking at me.  It’s possible that would have been more decorous, but it it wouldn’t have been kinder.  I was more zombie than human at that point, and when I’m home my roommates consider me the official house representative to strangers at the door.  Also, Sylvie was cooking dinner, and I wasn’t letting her out of the kitchen until it was done.

“Good.  Do you have a current, valid photo I.D. you can take with you to your polling place?”

I probably spent six minutes arguing with the kid about three minutes arguing with the kid about which one of us had been rude before I pointed out that it didn’t matter whether I’d been rude.  He’d knocked on my door, asked for my time, and planned to ask me for a favor.  I had no obligations to him, but he had obligations to his organization, to his cause, and to me for bringing them to me.  He was entitled to squat, and if he couldn’t accept that from somebody suffering activism-induced brain-deadery, he had little hope of accomplishing anything.  He stomped away.  He probably called me a bitch, but was at least smart enough to do it quietly that time.

“Do you mind telling me which way, Republican or Democrat, you’re likely to vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election?”

“That’s none of your business.”

It doesn’t bother me when people slam their door in my face, or tell me to fuck off, or want to know exactly who I am and exactly which group I’m with and precisely whose side I’m on before they’ll talk to me.  I’ve just interrupted them during dinner, or while they’re mowing the lawn, or were otherwise going about their business.  I’d tell me to fuck off if I caught myself at the wrong time.  I really don’t understand the people who are bothered by it.  You’ve got three hours and 60 doors to hit.  Everybody who slams the door is somebody you finished with quickly, and who we don’t have to go back to.  That’s way better than somebody who isn’t home.  Besides, they’re absolutely right: It isn’t any of my business.

“Do you mind telling which way…you’re likely to vote…”

“Oh, we’re a teacher household.  We’re getting rid of Walker.  And I always make my kids vote, and they’ll be getting rid of him too.  Are my kids on your list?”

The group I working with is affiliated with the Obama campaign and getting a lot of their resources from there, but all of the work they’re doing now is for the recall and they understand that once they switch over to campaigning for Obama, I’m gone.  They seem confused about why somebody willing to spend as much time working on the recall as I am won’t touch Obama, but they roll with it.  What I like is that since they’re a bit ad hoc, they don’t give out the horrifically bad scripts phone banks are always full of.  They just want the answers to their questions.  They expect you to ask about which way people are voting first, but I never do.  That’s starting by asking for a favor when you could start by offering a service.  Because “Are you registered to vote,” can be followed by, “Oh, here’s the information on how to get registered.  Once open registration is back, we’ll send somebody to do that for you, if you like.”  “Do you have an I.D.?” can be followed with information about the requirements of the new Voter I.D. law, in case the injunction doesn’t hold up.

“Democrat, of course.  You’re not out for Walker, are you?”

Canvassing is a really great way to observe how different segments of society interact with the rest of society, too.  Several times now I’ve realized that I’m asking for a young son as opposed to a husband because the woman at the door is mom-aged, black, and very concerned about why I’m there with a clipboard asking after her son.  And you can see the moment she believes you that you’re just asking about voter registration, because she relaxes and becomes one of the friendliest people you’ll talk to that day.  I have a sneaking suspicion those houses get skipped a lot.  Or, at least, skipped by benign people.

“I’m not sure.  I usually lean Republican, but if the Democrat’s a good one, I might have to vote for them.”

“Have you considered Arthur Kohl-Riggs for the primary?”

The best part of canvassing, though, is when I have an excuse to go off script 🙂

My Official Wisconsin Primary Endorsement

This is a harder decision than you might think.  There are four candidates running in the primary for the Democrats.  None of them inspire me.  Worse, at this point, all but one of them have managed to annoy me, or have others annoy me on their behalf.  (Note to campaign organizers everywhere: I gave my email address to those lists because I want to recall Walker, not because I want six emails a day asking for five dollars)

I was getting crabby about the decision, especially since so many people look scandalized when I tell them I don’t bleeding care which of the Democrats win; I’m anti-Walker, not pro-Dem.  My decision was going to come down to staring hard at polling data and then holding my nose.  We all know how much I love doing that.  Then something brilliant happened – a candidate who inspires my enthusiasm.

This is me announcing that I’m officially backing Arthur Kohl-Riggs in the primaries.  I’ll go so far as to announce that if he wins the primary, I’ll break my temporary ban on voting for anybody on the Republican ticket and vote for him in the general election, too.  I like his campaign.  I like his policies.  “Less of a joke than Scott Walker,” is going to be my favorite campaign slogan forever.

Seriously, this is a personal wet dream of politics.  I get to do the right thing by voting for a Republican, and still feel evil for doing it.  Do you believe in doing the right thing?  Art for Gov.  Do you want to be evil? Art for Gov.

Do you want to recall Walker?

Art for Gov.

Guys, let’s win this thing a month early.  Art for Gov.

Note to anybody looking for more substantive data in the endorsement: I know this guy.  He was there the week I spent in the capitol.  He’s sensible, thoughtful, working with good people on his campaign, and practical enough that if he does become Governor, he will not screw it up.  If you want more information, let me know and I will make sure you get it.