So, while illness has kept me away from commenting on the happenings in Wisconsin last week, I made a special trip to my office on a Sunday (we’ll be getting up to 18 inches of snow by President’s Day). I think the most important thing I could address is to reign in the vitriol first and foremost. We in the midwest, known for our “niceness” need to let that rise to this occasion and set an example to how two opposing sides can hold themselves publically and work out a painful problem. The amount of passion it raises is proof of that. People don’t leave their jobs because they feel like a day off, are inherently irresponsible, are sore losers or any of the ridiculous….and yes Ido mean ridiculous judgements that are being made out there. I don’t walk in a public workers’ shoes. Their livelihoods are being challenged and they have a right to assemble (great benefit of democracy). And just as strongly, please don’t dismiss the Governor’s claims as a simple backhanded way to stomp out the middle class, because that is as ridiculous too. As much as I may not walk in a public worker’s shoes, they don’t walk in mine either. I have to pay 100% of my health insurance and any money that is left over to squeeze in to a pension fund… means I better never have a catastrophic disease and will work well into my 100’s. It is an unfair burden to place on the state…and the rest of us to keep things they way they are. I also think it is appalling to strip away the rights so long fought for by unions’ in this country, to bargain and negotiate. Isn’t the cry of the the last election to stop taking away the rights of the people? You can’t say that the government has too much control as a platform to be elected and then decide once you’re in office solidify that control. I’ve worked in labor negotiations. It is a common cry of management to say we are strapped we have nothing to negotiate with, that is a bunch of hooey too. There are alternatives, and that is why we can never listen to just one side. Good solutions demand checks and balances, and will only come with a willingness to sit down and be heard, and you can’t do that by taking away the right to bargain. That is fascism in its truest form, when only one view, one solution is accepted and those who oppose are villified…and it is happening all over this country. I’m shocked at how quickly conversations on the social networks become rabid when discussing these kinds of issues. Misinformation and partial truths strike nerves that don’t create the environment necessary to solve the problems we face as a state, and as a union. Our responsibility as constituents is to help perpetuate the civility and open-mindedness that is necessary to reach the kind of solutions that can’t be seen with only one vantage point. I don’t like it when people disagree with me…most don’t, but as the strongest representation of democracy on this planet…we have to, we are obligated to prove this democratic experiment works. So come on cheeseheads, let’s show em’ how it’s done.