It is June 6, 2012 the day after Wisconsin’s infamous recall election and my day off. I slept late and was awaken by my husband calling to remind me of the tasks I needed to do before meeting my sister for a shopping trip to the farmers market in front of the old City County building in Madison. Only after starting to feed horses did I realize the election was done and things had changed in Wisconsin. I did not know who had won as my husband did not mention it. It was one of those beautiful spring days in Wisconsin when it is not too humid or hot, there was no snow forecast and the flies and mosquitoes had not made it a challenge to do anything outside with out smelling of citronella. In short there were no obvious changes in the environment. I wondered how long I could go without knowing who my governor was. So I decided to try it out.
When I got in my car I turned off the radio purposely. As I drove I saw no sign of despair or jubilation just the beautiful pastoral view I always enjoy as I drive toward Mt Horeb and the interstate that would take me to Madison, a place that would certainly give me the answer in the same “in your face” way of communicating it has exhibited over the last few weeks.
Pulling into the edges of Madison nothing jumped out at me as had literally happened the day before. I started to wonder if all the passion had checked out and left the state this morning or last night. I had images of a mass migration of special interests on both sides checking baggage in the same lines at our small airport.
I stopped and picked up my sister and she made no mention of it. I was starting to really wonder if I had imaged the whole thing. Being from a very political family (my nephew did a mass email to remind us all to vote) I was astounded I did not receive a call in the small hours of the night to give me an update on the final results. I started to anticipate the answer coming from some source, any source……
We found our parking spot and walked toward the farmers market. We were now in the hot bed of Wisconsin politics, the protests of thousands had occurred across the street from the Starbucks from which was I buying my coffee. I started to stare at people while silently berating them for being so calm, so normal. “How can you sit there and drink coffee and chat about the Brewers!! Don’t you know that our government is at war with its self and last night a catastrophic battle was fought and won and lost by the same state?? Where are the wounded? Where is the parade of the victorious? Did I dream the whole thing?
We walked down to the farmers market and started our rounds, my sister having no knowledge of my confusion. As people entered the street from the government offices that hemmed both sides of the farmers market I desperately started to eavesdrop on private conversations. “What time is the soccer game?”, “It is going to be different going forward….. (Was that a reference to the election?) “Oh those strawberries are beautiful!” Now almost sullen, I continued to strain for the answer but heard nothing, no anger or glee to mark this day.
As we walked to our car, tomatoes and dismay in tow I was hit by the discovery that the world was not going to end because of the controversy that had assaulted our state. I was duped!
We had become a state that fought not for what was right but to be right. We had thrown away good ideas from the opposition because of the color of their group. Now that our leadership was confirmed there seemed to be a realization that we still had to solve the problems. They did not go away with the election. We still have the best chance of solving our problems by seeing the value in ideas no matter who brings them to the table. It did not matter so much who won as much as whether we are ready to focus on what are good ideas and not who brought them to the table.
It is now 4:00 pm and I still do not know who won. I am not wondering who won because I do not believe who is our Governor matters as much as who we are. We have to do better than to put all of our energy into fighting. We have to be more creative and use two way communications with respect. We need to focus on what good ideas all people are bringing. We need to be use the skills we have learned to be a state of different people with different ideas all working toward the same goals to solve our problems or we will continue to self destruct in and embarrassingly disarray of dysfunctional behaviors.
I wish who every my Governor the wisdom to see how this has hurt our state and that we need desperately to heal Wisconsin. To have our state and it’s citizens go through this has not been a victory for anyone and to acknowledge that we all share the pain of this division maybe a place to start.