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Friday, July 19, 2024

Sensible Solutions for Northwoods Families or More Political Nonsense?

 Almost everyone I talk to is pretty much tuned out of politics right now, and as someone living in Oneida County year around, I can understand why:

  • It's summer in the Northwoods, and there are so many pleasant distractions, including our families and friends, the beauty of our environment, and the joys of finally having good weather.
  • It has been a never ending stream of discouraging political news out of Washington.
  • A sense of helplessness about improving the state of politics.
As chair of the Democratic Party of Oneida County, I can assure you that even those of us who are highly involved in politics on most days have grown weary of the situation. But it is a new political season, and we are seeing signs of new life, and I believe there is good reason to believe that things are changing for the better.

The local Democratic Party is a long way from Madison, and even further from Washington DC. Much of our attention and energy is focussed on local issues and races, and the low-level business of raising the visibility of candidates with yard signs and sponsoring meet and greets for our candidates.

We have candidates for all of our local races this year, and we are hoping that Northwoods voters have had enough of elected officials who don't represent the needs and values of their constituents. I hope you will take a close look at our candidates.

And please take some time to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Northwoods.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The View From the Local Democratic Party


We know that Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan and many other pieces of legislation are all part of the Democratic Party’s ongoing commitment to families and small businesses. In years past, these kinds of initiatives were large bi-partisan efforts to address the needs our country and state. But lately, these kinds of efforts are made only by the Democrats.

Most of the leaders of the GOP are working hard on dismantling the machinery of American Democracy by promulgating the “Big Lie” that the last Presidential election was stolen. And in Wisconsin and in other states with Republican-dominated legislatures, Republican leaders are busy with legislation to make voting more difficult, to lock-in Gerrymandered voting districts, and stripping whatever state-wide elected Democratic officials of the usual powers of their offices.

To understand why economic opportunities in Northern Wisconsin continue to decline one need only to look at the decisions coming out of Madison over the past 10 years. Cutting K-12 educational funding, allowing roads and communication infrastructure to deteriorate, and insulating lawmakers who choose to favor the folks who fund their campaigns over the needs of the folks they represent.

And what are the leaders of the Democratic Party doing? In Wisconsin they are trying to expand Badger Care, fix the roads, improve broadband, address mental health issues, improve education, and protect water supplies. While Democrats continue the work of governing, the leadership of the Wisconsin GOP toils at partisan gridlock and blocking efforts to address real problems facing Wisconsin families. And it’s not just in Madison that we see this situation. In Washington there is not one Republican vote to improve gun safety, no help from Republican legislators to control medical costs, and not one vote to address climate change.

Wisconsin’s Republican Senator has recently proposed fundamental changes to the funding for social security in yet another attempt to hand profits to large corporations and tax savings to billionaires at the expense of people who have contributed to Social Security and are entitled to be paid for their life-long contributions. And while Tony Evers has proposed increasing funding for police in Wisconsin, Republican leadership is now calling to defund the FBI. And our own Representative to Congress is a proud member of the “sedition caucus” and a major promoter of the “big lie.”

Here in Rhinelander, the Oneida County Democrats work to support Democratic candidates even though we know the game is stacked against us by gerrymandered districts and a thoroughly politicized Wisconsin Supreme Court. We know the game is rigged by the Republican legislature, and yet the Republican leadership is trying to persuade electors that we stole the election from Donald Trump.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Blue in the Northwoods

There are challenges, and then there are challenges.

Running for elective office as a Democrat in the Northwoods is definitely a real challenge. Much of the challenge comes from long-standing Democratic practice of ignoring rural areas, resulting in weak county party organizations. These weak organizations allow others to define what Democrats value and what they might do if elected. Years without blue victories in the Northwoods reinforces the challenge of running as a Democrat by convincing potential candidates that winning a local partisan office is too much of an uphill climb.

As we enter the 2022 electoral season, we know we have an uphill battle. But we have been preparing for it, and have developed new strategies, enlisted new volunteers, and engaged various resources specifically tailored to winning in rural communities. We aren't fooling ourselves: it's still going to be an uphill battle, but we believe we are making the kinds of changes that can only help improve our performance in this fall's elections. 

We have much more to do before we can expect to prevail in November. We will be seeking your help this year for many of same things we have in prior years: phone calls, door knocking, funding, staffing our office, and help in getting signs distributed. But we will also be asking for your help in engaging new voters: hosting small groups of your neighbors, staffing pop-up events where we can cross paths with folks outside of our usual supporters, and in general creating opportunities for voters to see the real differences between us and the GOP.

Beyond efforts to engage new voters, we are committed to having serious conversations with traditional Republican voters who are concerned about the recent direction of the GOP. We intend to lead with our values: a fair shake for everyone, support for elections where every vote is counted, and our commitment to addressing the real problems being faced by families and the small businesses in the Northwoods.

The 2022 election season is upon us, and I think we are ready to make a difference.