Tomorrow, Just Hours Away

Quick takes: Shortly after noon tomorrow I’ll be heading up to Madison where Jude, Scout and Joanie will join me in presiding over one of the following: The wildest victory party in the history of cheese, a wee-hours recount-worthy scenario whereby nobody really wins, or a series of posts that will be just the word “fuck” and rehashings of things I wrote back in 2004, which is sort of how this feels right now.

Doc will be running a Tuesday night crack van for you all starting probably around poll-closing-time, dependent on his schedule, and reporting in as well. You can also listen for us on WORT, where Roadmaster has promised we will turn up at some point that night. I have no idea what is going to happen. The polls are all fundamentally fucked up, and that’s the technical term. My educated opinion at this point is total pessimism, but that is my educated opinion about everything. I am a pessimist on purpose. That way I am sometimes surprised but never disappointed.

In the past several weeks I’ve had conversations about the election with family and friends, some of whom agree with me. Some of whom don’t. And what I keep coming back to is fear, among the Walker supporters, among those who say things like “we can’t afford to keep paying for pensions” and “we can’t afford anything but the lowest of low taxes for corporations” and “we can’t do anything we did 40 years ago because of reasons I don’t understand but I know, in my bones, that we can’t, we just can’t.” And I’m being reminded of how radical a message it really is, how radical it always is, to say we can achieve what we want to achieve.

Because it’s not just the cavalier “I don’t wanna, I got mine, screw you,” not from all of them. Not from those who aren’t billionaires but from those who’ve listened to what the billionaires have to say. Who’ve been fed hate and fear for months now, hate and fear of their neighbors, hate and fear of their own futures, and worst of all, hate and fear of their own history.

Their parents or grandparents lived lives we now think of as anachronistic or idealized: Union jobs at a factory, pensions through retirement, health insurance, Social Security and Medicare that actually took care of them when they were very old. Schoolteacher and police officer being occupations that allowed you to own a home, a car, perhaps even send your children to nice schools if you saved very carefully. Possibly a vacation, nowhere fancy, maybe a road trip memorable for anything but the destination.

When you retired, your pension allowed you to keep spending money at the local grocery and dime stores, to stay in your house and maintain it, to enjoy your neighborhood restaurants and attend your neighborhood church and donate to your local Lions Club or VFW. You could rest easy in extreme old age knowing that even if you didn’t leave your children an inheritance, at least you wouldn’t bankrupt them with debt and thus hinder their own starts in life.

These aren’t fancy things, that we’re now told are too much for us to handle, are luxurious and out of hand. These aren’t outrageous expectations. This isn’t Free Purebred Kitten Day, or foot massages from film stars. These are reasonable rewards for living a reasonable, upright, decent life. Used to be, we could afford as a country large numbers of people living just like this if they so chose. This used to be something we could do with ease. And now we’re being told no, we can’t have that anymore, and in fact we have to make sure people don’t have that anymore, we have to make sure nobody even dreams about that anymore, because it’s too expensive and everything’s going to hell. And we’re so, so angry at anybody who tells us different, so, so afraid.

I say it’s fear because: If those things aren’t out of reach, if it isn’t true that “we” can’t afford them anymore, then we have to ask ourselves the question: Why don’t we have them? In answering that there is no earthly reason we can’t have lives just like our parents and grandparents led, but for the bastards we enable in power, we have to admit that we allowed this to be done to us, that we let hucksters and thieves turn us against each other while they ran away with the piggy bank. In really looking at how much money there is and what it goes for, we have to admit that we just didn’t want to question our politicians and fight our bosses and resist our every human urge to not make a fuss in order to get the very least of what is owed to people who teach children and put out fires and arrest that one asshole who keeps ripping up the library’s rhododendrons.

That’s too much to look full in the face. In answering it we have to own up to just how much of our own power we’ve been willing to give up. We have to admit that what teachers and public workers and nurses and cops are asking for isn’t some outrageous thing, not if for one second we’d stop undervaluing ourselves, and start demanding what we’ve had to demand so many times before.

We think this is some insurmountable problem, some terrible divide, that we’ve never seen before. We have always had people saying sit down, shut up, don’t rock the boat, while some slick-talking jerk in a shiny suit was pouring fire and brimstone about how the company was gonna mess you for your own damn good. We have always had the jerk, too, and his bosses, and the company will always be with us. This is how this has always worked. What we haven’t always had is an entire pseudo-middle-class establishment media, especially on 24-hour cable news, appealing to ignorant-ass ‘necks reinforcing the message to lay back and think of Wall Street, or else they’ll come for you next, but even that’s not a total excuse.

They’re always coming for you, is what I want to tell everybody who’s angry and everybody who’s scared. The jerk, the company, they’re always out there, and the only thing you can’t afford is to think they’re on your side. When they’re done with the teachers and the steelworkers and the cops, they’ll come for you, too, and no racist sign or hat with teabags glued on gonna save your soul then. The only thing to fear is fear itself, said the last person who understood this well enough to make a case, so up you get.

There’s no reason to be scared, when the scariest thing is that it’s all up to you, and you decide what “we” can and cannot do. And the things we cannot do just melt away, once we really start taking them apart, and seeing what they’re made of. We can do anything if we want it bad enough. We can afford what we want to afford.

We can afford what we can get enough votes to afford.

A.

17 thoughts on “Tomorrow, Just Hours Away

  1. pansypoo says:

    i will be voting early. i am hoping my conversation while getting my hair cut got the cutter to vote against emp scott.
    and i will be praying. zombie reagan must die. the teabags must be denied.

  2. iconoclast59 says:

    THIS. Longtime lurker, first time poster here. Your post has reduced me to tears. I am SO frustrated at people’s inability to see what you have articulated so beautifully here. It is beyond me how anyone in Wisconsin can go to the polls tomorrow and vote for Walker, because a vote for Walker is a vote AGAINST their neighbor, brother, sister, co-worker, friend, etc. I live in the flatlands of Illinois, but tomorrow this FIB’s heart and thoughts will be with the working people north of the border. On Wisconsin!

  3. Teresa says:

    Hope the voters turn out in huge numbers!
    *chanting* Show me what Democracy looks like! Here’s what democracy looks like!
    Best weekend in Madison. You have a lovely downtown.
    We’re working on our second attempt at recalling Synder here.

  4. MarcD says:

    Good luck to everyone in Badger-land. I’m not one of those, “our existence depends on this” types, but I definitely think that this election is all of what Athenae wrote it is. It is grassroots vs. SuoerPAC, it is labor rights vs. robber barons, it is democracy vs. corporate oligarchy.
    I refuse to believe that Wisconsonians have forgotten their progressive and pragmatic history. I don’t think out of state corporatists will win out in the end.
    I’ll definitely be in the van tomorrow!

  5. George Hesselberg says:

    I liked this, it was very well put: They’re always coming for you, is what I want to tell everybody who’s angry and everybody who’s scared. The jerk, the company, they’re always out there, and the only thing you can’t afford is to think they’re on your side. When they’re done with the teachers and the steelworkers and the cops, they’ll come for you, too.

  6. ThinlyVeiled says:

    I love you, you know. The thing is, “we” used to believe that this was a “We” society, not a “Me” society. I’m not sure exactly when that changed, but until it changes back, until we realize that, yes, they really are coming for us, all of us, and that there are more of us than there are of them, and if we all stand together, we really can at least beat the bastards back, people are going to continue to think it can’t happen to them. Until it does.

  7. Thistle313 says:

    Preach!

  8. Jude says:

    Booze: Chilled
    Cocaine: Cut
    Hookers: Standing by
    Yeah, I think we’re ready for your arrival, boss.

  9. virgotex says:

    we can’t afford pensions but we’re just going to ignore all the golden parachutes we’re ponying up for, any one of which could probably fund the retirement plan of at least a whole passle of public employees in your region.
    What you can’t afford is the blinders you voluntarily strap on.

  10. Tengrain says:

    I spent the afternoon making phone calls from California to Madison to urge people to get out and vote tomorrow.
    Keep fighting the good fight, Wisconsin. We can do this thing.
    Regards,
    Tengrain

  11. stuckinlodi no more says:

    I called Wausau all weekend from Dayton, OH.
    We might win, we might not; but we went toe-to-toe with the mighty Koch Bros. and all their money. Tonight, there is hope.

  12. robertearle says:

    Out knocking on doors a couple times this weekend, and pretty much everybody has been contacted numerous times; most were nice about it, but it starts to make you wonder if we’ve done all we could already.
    And then…
    Tonight I came across five or six people – relatives of the people I had on my list, a newcomer to the state, a high school kid who turned eighteen this weekend – all who were ready to go vote and weren’t sure where their polling place was or what they needed to get registered tomorrow.
    I’m not sure if it is good news that I found them or bad news that they hadn’t been found before this :-) But it sure did FEEL like I had a great night tonight.
    (The eighteen year old – lives with her mom, doesn’t drive, doesn’t have a bank account, etc.; all the ‘normal’ documents one would use to demonstrate residence for registration. So I asked her about any other “government” documents that would have her name and address. And she says that she had made some sort of state-wide honor roll, and received a congratulatory letter FROM WALKER that she was pretty sure had her home address on it. It will probably ‘work’, depending on the individual poll worker she runs into. But, oh, the irony!)

  13. Vicki says:

    This is a brilliant post, A. (As they all are.) But this is so clear and cuts so to the quickening of what we should expect…to live a life of dignity and respect for a full day’s work and a job well done.
    Thanks for posting this.
    Go, Barrett!

  14. Duckman GR says:

    “And what I keep coming back to is fear, among the Walker supporters, among those who say things like “we can’t afford to keep paying for pensions” and “we can’t afford anything but the lowest of low taxes for corporations” and “we can’t do anything we did 40 years ago because of reasons I don’t understand but I know, in my bones, that we can’t, we just can’t.” And I’m being reminded of how radical a message it really is, how radical it always is, to say we can achieve what we want to achieve.”
    “We just can’t.” “We just can’t.” That’s the little devil gremlin on your right shoulder whispering in your ear. The same one that told my Dad he had no chance with the pretty lady sitting there on the school steps (did he listen? Duh!), the same voice that drives cowardly men like John Boehner and Dennis Hastert, that made David Broder the whinny spokesman for the sychophant press, or Tom Friedman to spew his because we can embarrassment.
    Wednesday is the D-Day Anniversary, I’m sure there were boatloads of men who heard that voice, and some who listened, but thank the GFSM most did not listen, like my Dad (whew!!!!).
    So don’t listen to that voice of fear. FDR said it, please people, remember what he said, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
    Don’t be afraid Wisconsin, just do the right thing!
    A, get your post in the paper, or Freeway Blogged, or something, you really bring it home. Love ya!

  15. Doc says:

    Winner. As always.
    I will start posting once the internet is back on at my house. Sigh…

  16. Amy Eisenman says:

    Beautifully expressed, Allison. I dearly hope Wisconsin returns to being the place I once knew. Or thought I knew.

  17. Greywolf says:

    Beautiful post. Watching for the results anxiously – hoping for the end of Walker in politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,901 other followers

%d bloggers like this: