It’s tough living with a secret that could force people to look at you in a different way. Friends and colleagues give you that “I thought I KNEW YOU!” look as they ponder their new reality. Some will denounce you for being that which you vehemently opposed. Others will quickly scramble to defend you with false-front excuses or seek to help you find a way to “repent for your sin.” Knowing all of this, many people with these deep secrets do their best to keep them quiet or disclose them only in passing to a few trusted members of an inner-circle.
One of the harsher ways to break this cycle is when someone decides it’s time to “out” you. The person lays bear your darkest truth in a raw, unvarnished fashion to the world at large.
In some cases, the results are disastrous, as it was when 18-year-old Tarence Mitchell murdered his older gay lover, who threatened to out him when Mitchell tried to end their two-year relationship.
In other cases, it forces someone to deal with a horrible thing that eventually leads to progress and important outcomes, as was the case of Arthur Ashe. Ashe, a championship tennis player, feared that USA Today was about to “out” him based on his HIV status. Although he stated he didn’t like being forced into a corner on this issue, he later stated he was no longer forced to lie.
In many cases, though, it shatters the illusions that a hypocrite weaves for their own benefit, as was the case with “the Rev.” Ted Haggard. The notoriously anti-gay Haggard was outed by a gay prostitute, which led to other accusations of sexual “improprieties” from other men.
Outing is risky, today, as lawmakers in the state of Wisconsin take up the UW System budget, I felt compelled to try this last-ditch effort to try to stop the madness of Gov. Deadeyes’ $300 million cut.
Republicans own 63 seats in the 99-seat assembly, which guarantees they can pretty much drive home whatever anti-intellectual crap that it seems the Clevons of this state want. It’s easy for them to kick the UW system around because it makes for good applause lines for people who think college kids sleep until noon, party all day and smoke “the mary jane” all day. It’s even easier to kick those lazy, overpaid professors who never do anything of value, making the point of pursuing a degree pointless.
I dug through the list of biographies of every Republican state officeholder for their level of education, assuming erroneously that the reason this seems to be a party of anti-education was because none of them could hack it.
I was wrong. Way wrong.
Here’s what those hard-working, every-man Republicans DON’T want you to know:
They have UW degrees. Lots of them.
Of the 63 seats listed as being Republican controlled, 21 of them are occupied by people who earned degrees at UW System schools.
Lest we confuse the issue, this doesn’t count the Republicans who got degrees from out of state or those who “attended” one of the various UW branches for a year or two.
These are people with diplomas on their walls from UW schools who are not standing up against the idea of screwing over the very places from which they matriculated.
And lest you think that they got those “real degrees” that are supposed to give you “real world job experience,” consider this:
- Eight of the 21 majored in political science, a field often derided with the line of “Why try? Go Poli Sci!”
- One of those eight (Kathleen Bernier) got her degree as a returning student, thus demonstrating both her resolve to get the degree and the esteem in which she must have held it.
- Four of the 21 completed their degrees at that liberal hell hole known as UW-Madison
- History and philosophy, two degrees parents hear about and say “What the hell are you going to do with that?” claim one Republican each (Rob Hutton and Warren Petryk)
The rest of the list is below (majors in parentheses when available):
- Scott Allen – UW-Milwaukee (political science)
- Joan Ballweg – UW-Stevens Point (elementary education)
- Kathleen Bernier UW-Eau Claire (political science)
- Janel Brandtjen – UW-Milwaukee (business/finance/marketing)
- Ed Brooks – UW-Madison (agricultural economics)
- David Craig- UW-Milwaukee
- Mary Czaja – UW-River Falls (finance)
- Cody Horlacher – UW-Whitewater (business)
- Rob Hutton – UW-Whitewater (history)
- Andre Jacque – UW-Madison
- Samantha Kerkman – UW-Whitewater (political science)
- Mike Kuglitsch – UW-Whitewater (business)
- Amy Loudenbeck – UW-Madison (political science/international relations)
- Jim Ott – UW-Milwaukee (bachelor’s and master’s degrees)
- Warren Petryk – UW-Eau Claire (philosophy)
- Romaine Quinn – UW-Green Bay (political science)
- David Steffen – UW-Madison (political science)
- Gary Tauchen – UW River Falls (animal science)
- Nancy VanderMeer – UW-Lacrosse (psychology)
- Tyler Vorpagel – UW-Green Bay (public administration and political science)
- Robin Vos – UW-Whitewater (political science)
When you look at the senate, things deserve even more attention:
Of the 33 seats, Republicans control 19 of them.
Of those 19 seats, 12 are occupied by holders of UW degrees.
How toxic would it be for Republican voters to know about this? It’s clear that for some people, it’s scary as hell.
Mary Lazich, the senate president, lists many of her accomplishments in her official state biography, but never once mentions that she not only graduated from UW-Milwaukee, but also that (gasp) her degree was in social work or that (double gasp) she graduated summa cum laude.
Tom Tiffany and Leah Vukmir also fail to mention their status as proud graduates of state institutions. In Vukmir’s case, she has a master’s degree in nursing from UW-Madison.
Below is the whole list of Republican UW grads in the senate
- Robert Cowles – UW-Green Bay
- Alberta Darling – UW-Milwaukee (secondary education)
- Scott Fitzgerald – UW-Oshkosh (journalism)
- Mary Lazich – UW-Milwaukee (social work)
- Howard Marklein – UW-Whitewater (accounting)
- Steve Nass – UW-Whitewater (bachelor’s; master’s in school business management)
- Luther Olsen – UW-Madison
- Roger Roth – UW-Oshkosh
- Duey Stroebel – UW-Madison (bachelor’s in business administration; master’s in real estate appraisal and investment analysis
- Tom Tiffany UW River Falls (agricultural economics)
- Leah Vukmir –UW Madison (master’s in nursing)
For many Republican voter, this would likely be some sort of a shock.
“But… but… but… We shot things together! We laughed at fart jokes! We talked about Jesus and how he called you to run for office! How can we trust you now?”
Relax, guys and gals, you can still dress in blaze orange with these nitwits and laugh when you fart in an elevator. Taste and moxie aren’t necessarily anathema to education.
However, this message is for those of you on the list above:
You need to stop denying who you are.
You aren’t people who “tried college once but found that it wasn’t for real Americans.” You graduated. You saw it all the way through.
You aren’t people who “don’t know better” like the people in some of these hinterland outposts of our state who once saw a black guy on TV. You went to those “inner-city hell holes” like UW-Milwaukee and those “liberal dens of debauchery” like UW-Madison.
You can’t tell stories about how you “worked flipping burgers” to pay your way through college (if you’ll admit to the college thing) without seeing that it was a hell of a lot cheaper/easier/supported when you went through than it is now.
What you can do and what you should do is stand up when others around you disparage the UW System, propose draconian budget cuts and generally beat up on your alma mater.
Tell the people in your own party, “I’m a UW graduate and I did pretty well in life because of it.”
It’s time to come out of the closet on this one.