An Open Lesson for Scott Fitzgerald from Callen Harty

The following letter appeared on Callen Harty's blog, A Single Bluebird, which I think is maybe the loveliest possible name for a blog.  Callen's letter is equally lovely, and didactic to boot. I hope Senator Fitzgerald, who works for us, takes it very seriously.


No one tells Fitz what to do. He won't even listen to phones. Source.

An Open Letter to Scott Fitzgerald

by Callen Harty

Dear Senator Fitzgerald,

     There was a lesson that most of us learned very early in our lives. Of course, most of us were not bullies, so it’s possible that the lesson was missed by you and some of your allies. The lesson was this: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

     Last spring you and Scott Walker pushed through the “budget repair” bill even though you could have passed it without political tactics or force as you had the votes on your side all along. You seem to revel in the idea of power so much that you use it unnecessarily, even at times when you could at least pretend civility. It’s like a boy growing faster than his classmates who starts to beat up those who are weaker than him without realizing that they are growing in strength, too, maybe just a little bit slower. One day one of them, or a group of them, will flex their muscles and put him in his place.

     Yesterday you disbanded the Senate mining committee because you didn’t like the idea that a bipartisan committee was working together to come up with a compromise bill, something unheard of in our Legislature since you and your brother have been its leaders. Instead of compromise you wanted a mining bill that fulfilled all the wishes of your corporate benefactors, so you threw it back to the Joint Finance Committee knowing that it will push through the Assembly version that you want. Yes, as Senate Majority Leader you have the power to make those kinds of decisions, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You may find your own party members finally abandoning you over this one. I’d like to think that at least one of them might find the moral backbone to stand up to you.

     I get the feeling that you don’t understand the reasons you are being recalled from your Senate seat. Oddly enough, they are the same reasons that you are likely to lose the seat even though you and all the experts seem to think you are invulnerable. Please pass this on to Governor Walker when you see him (given that none of his constituents can) because he has the same misunderstanding. It comes down to the difference between your perceptions of reality and the reality of the people of your district and of Wisconsin as a whole.
  Most of your constituents are regular folks who are just trying to live. They are trying to pay rent or a mortgage. They are trying to put food on the table. They hope to have a little extra for some little luxuries once in a while. They want to retire at some point and live out their years in peace and good health. Much of what you have done in the Legislature this past year has done little to help them, but it has done a great deal to help out-of-state corporations and those who already have more than enough food to eat. People are angry over that, and those of us on the schoolyard who have been bullied by you are growing in strength. But that’s not even really the point. The point is you do not have a clue why there have been protests for over a year now. You just think it’s a bunch of union thugs, out-of-state agitators, hippies, and people who hate Republicans. But you are wrong.

     This is important. Pay attention to this: The division seen in Wisconsin this past year is not solely because of unions. The recalls that are underway are not solely the effort of Democrats. Republican leadership and the media would have us believe this, but it is not true. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, because as long as you blindly believe that it is all about the unions and the Democrats you are destined to lose your recall election, and I really, really want to see your pompous self get slapped down by the people in your district.

     We naïve Wisconsinites have a blind faith in clean politics. We have an unwavering belief that truth will prevail over lies and prevarication. We are patient. Yes, we are angry, but we remain peaceful. We are vigilant. You will be recalled because we don’t like the way you do business. Plain and simple. It is Democrats, but it is also disaffected Republicans, and independents. It is union members, but it also people who have never joined a union in their lives. It is hippies, but it is also businessmen. It is not just sore losers, but people who don’t like to see you win with dirty tricks. These people will work together to recall you, because we can and we should.

 - Callen Harty
Photo: Callen Harty

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