The Wisconsin Badgers… and Im not talking about football.
Me, Walker and Wisconsin; the backstory.
Theres a lot that I love about my native state of Wisconsin. I was born and raised here, on the Midwestern cliche of a dairy farm, and all that it implies. Wisconsin is the metaphorical soil that nourishes my roots, so to speak. But it hasnt always been that way; there was a time, not so long ago, I folded up my Wisconsin flag, and my Wisconsin pride along with it. My disdain of the state I call home began under the destructive reign of Governor Jim Doyle; and it was a long a disastrous one.
But in 2009, a bright shone on my mother state, via a gubernatorial candidate that got my attention early-on, before even, the young hopeful was noticed by many. In true form, I did my due diligence and researched the candidate, and really liked what I had discovered. I threw my support behind him in typical loyal-sometimes-to-a-fault fashion, hoping I wouldnt be disappointed like I had been by so many politicians, so many times before, only to be left feeling discouraged and defeated- and quite frankly, betrayed- on so many levels. But this young hopeful in 2009, as it turns out- would be anything but a downcast. He would prove to be a man of his word in politics, something I had once filed under oxymoron. He would also turn out to be the only politician I would stand behind, and beside, in three elections over the course of four short years. Yes, three victories, in four years.
It wasnt long after I threw all of my support behind the young Milwaukee County Executive-turned-gubernatorial-candidate, that he also won the Republican Partys respect and nomination. And that set the future in motion for not only my role, as it relates, but also for the man the world knows now as Scott Walker. And as it turns out- this particular Governor, from this particular state, is now a household name across the Country- and perhaps the world.
Im certain that many Americans have a general idea of what put Walker on the map- the victorious battle against big union labor, known by many, as collective bargaining. Here in Wisconsin, we refer to the epic civil war- fought, and won- in 2011, as Act 10; a piece of legislation that would end the mandatory participation in union business, and the act of their bidding for employees. Regardless, the passing of Act 10 led to many triumphant things, like a balanced budget in Wisconsin, the freedom of choice for so many, and the allocation of state money to worthy and necessary causes, where the funding is much better used versus the mandatory dictation of state tax dollars to causes that enabled the entitled to be just that- entitled. So while it may be common knowledge that Walker was made to be a noteworthy name in American politics by standing up to big labor, what most outside of Wisconsin dont know, with the exception of what theyve seen on Fox News, is what it took to be the first Governor to beat the beast known as the union, and in turn, to beat the first gubernatorial recall effort in the history of our Nation.
But I was there. I was one of the grassroots leaders, that led the boots on the ground into battle, one we will never, ever forget. And unless you were shoulder-to-shoulder with Wisconsinites in 2012, theres no way for you to know what a state full of loyal conservatives falling victim union thuggery will do for a Governor leading the way for the right reasons, at the right time. Theres no telling what measures the conservative machine will go to- and through- to end the years of disastrous damage done by the Democratic Party. Perhaps, paramount here is what is really behind the man the world knows as a presidential contender for 2016- Wisconsins own honey badger of a Governor- Scott Walker. Albeit, I may not know the real answer to that, but what I do know is how the majority of the states grassroots activists perceive our fearless leader.
To be clear, this is not necessarily an endorsement for Walker- as it relates to his bid for the White House- nor is it an acknowledgement that he may, or may not be, the best possible contender to represent conservatives. The intention here is to take you on a walk with Walker, so to speak, during a tense political battle in Wisconsin.
Looking back, in my minds eye, one thing that really stands out is the way in which the governor lead an effort that was truly a grassroots movement. Unless you were employed by an organization, like I was at the time, that specialized in educating and empowering activists, most of the Wisconsin warriors fighting for the the passing of the union busting bill were not on anyones payroll for their role. None of the conservatives were hauled in busload, after busload, like our opponents were doing. The troops on the right rallied behind a politician making the right choices for his constituents, that just so happen to be the tough choices too. Many of us used every free waking hour, outside of our busy everyday lives, so we could lend a hand in the political battle of the century in the state. Our rare, spare minutes were spent fighting the paid protesters on the left. Many of them didnt even know- or care- about the real reason they were fighting in the first place. And as it turns out, one things for sure, no one individual character is quite as scary as someone fighting a battle of which they have nothing to lose- or win- outside of a paycheck.
It reminded me of the old adage, youve got to stand for something, or youll fall for anything.
It was an incredible time in Wisconsin, surely one that will be written in history books, one that lifelong friends were made, and one that taught us what a foe may look like. Many of us got death threats, authored by a Wisconsin based- female school teacher. Liberal senators were on the lamb in Illinois, in an effort to keep Act 10 from passing- which was a failure of epic proportions, after Walker and his conservative legislators found a loophole allowing them to pass the bill without the democratic senators present.
Wisconsin natives who quite possibly came out to vote only for the presidential and gubernatorial elections until now, became activists. friendships were destroyed, families divided, there were lots of political signs held up everywhere you looked, and nearly all motorists had at least one bumper sticker acting as a billboard as to where they stood. Bumper stickers, that I may add that made liberals do crazy things while traveling the states freeway system. Books were written, writers were born, mountains were moved, our Capital was defaced by our arch nemesis, teachers did not show up for school, or bought their students to Madison for the sake of doing their dirty work, and those that did not agree were bullied by union thuggery.
As for me, I got lucky. I found my way in Wisconsin politics in 2012; and it is a place I treasure.They say that when luck meets preparation that the end result is success. I live my personal rendition of success today in our states politics. I was even voted one of the top moms that write on a national level, up there with some pretty heavy hitters from both sides. I became the one of the faces of the tea party in Wisconsin, making regular appearances on local news, and a few friends and I threw a rally, only blocks from the Governors residence in Wauwatosa, that drew over 4000 people in a snowstorm. We had arrived- and in grand form, by the masses.
And on June 5, of 2012, as Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow publicly geared up for Walkers defeat in the recall attempt, it wasnt more than minutes before the once-eager pundits conceded, head down and metaphorical tails-between-the-legs. Ill never forget the pride I felt in that moment. Pride for being a part of something so huge, pride for all the patriots at my side through it all- the same ones who have found their permanent place in my heart. I felt pride for all the efforts we all put forward, and all the rewards wed reap because of it.
In 2012, here in Wisconsin, a bold and fearless politician did the unheard of- he kept his campaign promises, despite the insurmountable odds he faced. A movement was born. Wisconsin neighbors, coworkers and colleagues came together and wrote history. The man behind the movement was revealed to the world. And that man, from a tiny Wisconsin town, made the map. And it just could be a map that leads straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.