Pay Your Share, Wisconsin! (Freedom Isn't Free)

Remember that night in 2010 when all of a sudden it sunk in:  
Russ Feingold is no longer our Senator. Russ Feingold lost the election. Ron Effing Johnson is my Senator now. Scott Walker?! Who voted for that guy? 
Remember that?  Remember thinking "Why the double hockey sticks did I not do more?  What just happened here?"

Well, you're going to feel that way times a million if you don't help GOTV on this election.  Hundreds of thousands of us stood in solidarity in the snow to bring our grievances and outrage to the public eye. Tens of thousands of us collected signatures in the freezing cold and biting wind to set right this wrong.  ALL OF US need to do our part now to ensure that every voter in Wisconsin sees past the hype, the lies, and the infinitely-funded campaign ads to what is really at stake in this election.  It's time to help. It's time to pay your share.

One of the things that stands out in my mind most from the signature collection phase is this kid who used to drive past our regular site on the town square in Sun Prairie every day after high school let out, in his parents' fancy car.  He'd roll down the window and shout "PAY YOUR SHARE! PAY YOUR SHARE! PAY YOUR SHARE!"  Every day.  He'd shout this, from the warm comfort of a car he didn't pay for, to men and women who were standing on the side of the street volunteering their time between shifts, before or after work, or in their retirement.  People who were providing a public service to our community by allowing a forum for expression of our legal and constitutional right to seek redress for the grievances we hold against a corrupt administration which betrays the interests of the people for a corporatist agenda bought and paid for by out-of-state agents.

My friend Maegen reminding us our "last chance" is now.
Who, exactly, were these local citizens he was telling to "pay their share?"  Who were these members of our community this kid's parents had taught him to hate so much that he felt entitled to disrespect them on the public square?  These people he obviously thought were greedy freeloaders motivated by nothing more than greed and an absurd desire for "handouts?"
  • Taxpayers, from all walks of life.  Some union, some not. Some so well-off that they were able to contribute generously to our entirely grassroots-funded office.  Some so staggered by cuts to their income under Walker's administration that they faced bankruptcy and foreclosure. 
  • A retired teacher who'd put in nearly 40 years in our schools and knows this community as well as anyone in town and is fighting daily to preserve the civility and integrity that is at the heart of the Wisconsin Idea.  And other educators, both working and retired, who committed their whole lives to his own education. 
  • A scientist who refuses to let an agenda of hypocritical dogma govern the content of her children's education as they're just entering our public schools. 
  • A small-business owner who home schools her children and is fighting to protect equal rights for women that have been under attack by Walker since day one.
  • A retired union laborer who worked that location nearly every day, in every type of weather until a brain tumor stopped him from volunteering. The day before his surgery, he told us at the hospital that he hoped to return before the last day of signature collection so he could help more.
  • A young private sector worker who feels so strongly about the threats to clean and open government that he has volunteered nearly daily before going to his third-shift job, often sleeping just a few hours between work shifts and volunteer shifts.
  • A retired non-union employee who chose to spend the cold winter fighting for democracy in Wisconsin while her ailing husband spent it in Florida on doctor's orders so that she could do the volunteering her adult children couldn't do while working full-time.
  • Parents of kids in our public schools who are fighting both to protect the funding and programming that keeps our schools great and to defend our excellent teachers against the unconscionable attacks on their character and work.  Parents who want their kids to get a decent education and have a chance at a career in a job that gives them dignity, satisfaction, and fair pay.
  • Employees of local small businesses who know that their employers won't be able to compete with the big-box corporate favorites that Walker and his allies are trying to sell out our communities to.
  • And more. The list of people who have paid - and continue to pay - their share (in both time and taxes) goes on and on.  These are the people who live here. Our friends and neighbors. They are the people who make our community a decent place to live. People who believe that living a decent life is worth fighting for.  People who have taught me, personally, how true it is that it really does take a village to make things happen, and that community-building is as easy as opening your mind and sharing your voice with your neighbors. People who have taught me what it really means to pay your share.
So when this kid shouted at our volunteers, with such hate in his voice and such an ignorant, blind, and toxic message, all I could think was: this IS how we're paying our sharing.  In addition to paying in taxes, time, and money, we are paying our share in moving Wisconsin forward by sending a message not just to our fellow Wisconsinites but the entire nation, and the world: we will not sit by as you sell us out to the highest bidder. We will not betray our children, our elders, our disabled friends, our co-workers. We will not sit by and watch this happen. We will stand up and pay our share in hours, in shifts of standing in the freezing cold with hand-warmers shoved in our boots and pockets. We paid our share by making phone calls, holding signs, sharing news and information with whomever we could.  We have paid our share in sweat and tears and anger and frustration and we have been rewarded by the security of knowing that we are on the side of justice.  We have followed the letter of the law at every step to exercise our legal right to recall this Governor, his yessir! lieutenant, and the Senators whose abuses of power and contempt for public input shame us all.

Here in my town, we have been paying our share all year.  And we will continue to do so in every moment we can until June 5.  All across the state, other grassroots teams have been doing the same thing.  Volunteering. Educating. Contributing.  Doing what needs to be done.

But with 12 days to go, it's not enough to count on all these people, who are already doing as much as they possibly can, to do it all.  We need everyone.

Everyone who signed the petition to recall Walker.
Everyone who thinks workers' rights are human rights.
Everyone who thinks education is more important than profits.
Everyone who thinks our tradition of stewardship means we should preserve our air, our water, our public hunting grounds, for future generations.
Everyone who thinks government should be open, and that citizen input should matter.
Everyone who believes in the true value of civility and the power of the Wisconsin Idea.

We need everyone.

Please do your share.  We are counting on you.

Vote early or vote June 5.

Volunteer.  Sign up today to do your part in getting out the vote.

We need to knock on every door. We need to make sure every voter knows how much is at stake in this election:  It's not about politics. It's not about money. It's about preserving the integrity of our traditions, clean and open government by the people, and the civility that makes it possible to live together no matter how much we may disagree on points of policy.  It's about democracy.  It's about stopping the "divide and conquer" politics that have made it possible - acceptable, even - for a teenage boy to shout hate and disrespect out the window of his car at people who are just exercising their civil rights. It's about moving forward and restoring the civility we once cherished.

Be the change the matters.
There will not be another time to act.
The time is now.

Pay your share.

Because freedom isn't free, you know. It took the tea party ways of Scott Walker & Co to make us realize exactly how true that is.

Please. Pay your share.


  1. I thought Obama said, "elections have consequences... and I won." How is this different?

    1. Elections do have consequences, and we have more than paid the price of electing Scott Walker, who betrayed our trust with his "bomb dropping" and "divide and conquer" administration and continues to betray the people at every opportunity. We have every legal right to recall him for this. Wisconsin is not for sale. We deserve representative government, which cannot be obtained by a governor who deals with dissent by ignoring it and cutting off citizen communication.

    2. Hi Heather; I respectfully disagree. The left has presented itself as bratty and sort of pathetic throughout this recall process. Few actions are more disruptive to the democratic process than frivolous recalls issued on the grounds of policy. Can you only imagine the monetary and moral waste if every time an elected official had to make an unpopular decision, they had to face recall? They will all be recalled anyway... next time they are up for election. The grounds for this recall seem contrived/spurious to me... like the "birther" crowd's demeanor, non-substantive or reasonable. Campaign promises are broken all the time... see Gitmo, etc, on behalf of Obama. This has the feel of something you explain to your kids... "Now son, normally when people get democratically elected, they serve a predetermined term in office unless they commit a crime, in which case they are impeached. In this case, Wisconsin is spending countless resources on recalling a person that they just sort of don't like."

  2. I think people should be very concerned by the flowing coffers of money into certain candidates and who would benefit by buying the offices of elected officials that are supposed to protect and uphold the constitution...thank you HDB!

    1. Hi Diane. One thing is certain... Walker may be the today's figurehead for this practice, but *every* politician accepts these type of monies.

  3. Beautiful, beautiful post, MOD. From out of state, but gave $50 to Tom Barrett campaign.You and your peers in WI are such an inspiration. Told my Wisconsin relatives who visited here today, this is the most important election of the year - more important than the presidential election. Wish I could vote!

    1. I truly respect your zeal but do you think that there are some folks who could have really used a full tank of gas? That could have made a family's week. Because of these pseudo-activists, you were dragged into a seemingly absurd exercise that is appears to be a matter of pride and not executive incompetence. Sure, Walker will have to answer to the electorate for many unpopular policies-- and he will face that reality next election cycle, like everyone else.