Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Political anger issues hit home


Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Oct 18, 2012; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A

Political anger issues hit home

Theft of yard signs latest incivility

So the yard signs were stolen from my yard last week. My wife, the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha, put out a yard sign this year for former Gov. Tommy Thompson and now it’s gone.

I tend not to worry too much about these things. A yard sign is a yard sign, and the sign probably wasn’t swaying any of the voters on my block.

The thief probably did us a favor by stealing the sign because he made room for my wife’s Halloween decorations. But I have to ask the thief a question:

Why would you steal the “Ask me about Catholic schools” sign, too? Do pro-life, church-going Catholics that send their kids to Catholic schools really offend you that much?

My wife asked me why someone would steal a yard sign. Most yard signs, regardless of party, are stolen as harmless pranks. For some people, it’s more than that. They are just incensed that someone would disagree with them.

In Fond Du Lac, a Republican candidate for state Senate, Rick Gudex, says that his yard signs were thrown down on the ground, the vandals turned his American flag upside-down, and they broke some landscaping stones in his yard. Gudex says this was not the first attack on his home. His son’s truck was egged in the driveway.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone when we hear about incidents like this. After all, for the last two years in Madison Republican legislators and staffers have been living in a state of siege in the Capitol. We’re finally getting a measure of law and order under the new Capitol police chief. I guess he lost the phone number for ordering pizza for the protesters.

You can point to the leadership. Gudex doesn’t believe the incumbent, Democratic state Sen. Jessica King, has anything to do with the vandalism at his home, and we all hope he’s right.

But it probably doesn’t help the calls for civility when the spokesman for the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, Graeme Zielinski, is on Twitter accusing Republicans of not being Christians because they disagree with him. Holy McCarthyism, Graeme.

Nor does it help when Vice President Joe Biden, at a nationally televised debate with Wisconsin’s own Congressman Paul Ryan, thinks being rude, obnoxious, and even inappropriately giggly somehow makes him a “winner.” Turns out he was a “winner” like Charlie Sheen, but that didn’t stop so many of the talking heads of the political left from cheering on the juvenile delinquent behavior.

I remember when President Barack Obama was running in 2008, he promised a new tone in Washington. After the attempted killing of Congressman Gabby Giffords, Obama again called upon the American public to try to restore civility to politics.

Other than that, Obama himself has done so much to poison the political discourse in this country, and his party has followed his lead.

That’s not to say that Republicans are perfectly innocent in this melodrama (although I’m waiting for the first angry mob of taxpayers to climb through the Capitol windows).

But at some point the anger really needs to stop. We should be able to disagree without angry threats and acts of vandalism being used to intimidate people.

I’m going to make a prediction right now. The day after the election, large numbers of us will get up, get our kids dressed for school, get ourselves to work (hopefully) and live our lives as if nothing happened the day before. Regardless of what happens on Election Day, for so many of us life will just continue on.

If we can just grasp the idea that Election Day is not the end of the world foretold by the Mayans, we may be able to discuss rationally the really huge issues confronting this country.

This country is $16 trillion in debt, with 6 trillion added in just the last four years. During that time we have had unemployment consistently above 8 percent. The real unemployment rate, based on labor participation rates when Obama took office, is near 12 percent.

When we go into the polling place on Nov. 6, let’s focus on those facts and not on the anger. Leave the yard signs alone and vote for positive change instead. You’ll feel better.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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