Reply to Scott Walker

Scott Walker, under heavy guard, arriving in Green Bay to sign the “budget repair” bill. Photo by Callen Harty.

(reposted on Kick Butt Liberals, 5/16/12; published by Monologues of Dissent, 5/16/12 & The Progressive website, 5/17/12)

When I arrived at home today I was greeted by a letter in my mailbox from the Scott Walker campaign, looking for a donation to help him defend himself against attacks from the left and the unions.  This is the letter I am sending out to him tomorrow (and he gets to pay the postage).

May 16, 2012

Dear Governor Walker,

Thank you for your personal letter to me asking me to donate money toward your goal of $400,000.00 to help defeat Tom Barrett in the upcoming recall election.  I will tell you first of all that I am an independent voter and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past, among others.  I must also tell you that I’m afraid I’m not rich enough to be one of your donors, and neither are most of the Wisconsinites I know, many of whom are suffering under the policies you have pushed through in the last year.  But even if I could afford it I would more likely donate it to a candidate who shows a little more fiscal responsibility than what your campaign has shown.

You say in your letter that the opposition is raising money in breathtaking amounts.  Yet all of the news media, liberal and conservative, has repeatedly reported that you are raising far more money than Tom Barrett and the Democrats.  You have raised more than $25 million dollars already, two-thirds of it from out-of-state donors, and I’m guessing they might be expecting something in return.  Most of that money was raised in the last half-year and most of it came from a handful of very wealthy benefactors.  Have you spent all that money already?  Are they okay with that?  How could you possibly need almost half a million dollars more?  Clearly, if you are running the state of Wisconsin the way you are running this campaign I can see why we are in so much economic trouble here.

Let me be clear about this:  I am not a huge fan of either the Republicans or Democrats, but I do not believe you when you say that the “Liberal Democrats” bent to the will of big labor leaders in Chicago and Washington.  I believe that the Democratic Party tends to be the party of the working class more than the Republican Party does, so yes, they may have supported legislation that labor may have liked.  But labor is not about union bosses—it is about the common man or woman working the assembly line or teaching or laying bricks for a living.  If the Democrats pass laws that support working class people, then I am for them.  My grandfather was a miner, my father a painter.  I come from working class people and although I have never belonged to a union I believe in the dignity of our working class and poverty-stricken citizens.  Nobody deserves to be disregarded or discarded.

In your letter you say that with “clenched fists, obscene signs, screaming chants and un-Wisconsin-like tactics, I’m being attacked with a ferocity that Wisconsinites have never seen before.”  I have been at the Capitol during the peaceful protests this past year.  I have seen thousands of people behaving well and letting their feelings be heard.  I have also seen people yelling “Shame” and other things at you and some of your legislative allies.  It is because the people of this state feel that you have attacked them with a ferocity that is un-Wisconsin-like.  Never before have we seen so much disregard for openness, so much bullying in the Capitol chambers, such rude dismissal of the other side of the aisle as we have seen under your leadership and that of the Fitzgerald brothers.  You “dropped the bomb”, you tried to “divide and conquer”, but what you did was awaken a sleeping giant.  You have united people in a way that the Democrats have never been able to do.  Yes, the people are angry at you.  They have every right to be.

The “Madison Liberals” and “Union Bosses” you speak of may be trying to make an example of you as you assert.  It is their right politically.  But for regular Wisconsinites like me this election isn’t about the unions.  Yes, I am incredibly unhappy with what you did to collective bargaining, but even moreso at the way you did it.  I am also unhappy to see my niece and her family taken off of BadgerCare because of your cuts.  I am unhappy to see what used to be the finest educational system in the country gutted because of your priorities.  When corporations are owners of our school systems and making profits off of it instead of cities and towns having local control the people of Wisconsin will see what they have given up.  I am unhappy about your horrible record on environmental issues, the incredible loss of jobs we have seen, your attacks on Planned Parenthood, your positions on LGBT issues, and more.  This election is not a referendum on collective bargaining.  It is a referendum on the totality of your short tenure.

Earlier today you released a revised set of job numbers.  You say that Wisconsin is heading in the right direction.  If backwards and downwards are the right direction then I guess we are doing fine.  Every state in the union—including Wisconsin until the numbers showed us losing more jobs than any other state in the country—has used the same set of Department of Labor statistics to show job growth or loss.  But today you released numbers showing we’ve gained 23,000 jobs (which, even if it were true, is not even 10% of what you promised us).  It is not only disingenuous, it is a lie.  The people of the state are losing jobs and suffering under your budget cuts.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs and no other state lost more than 3,500 between March of 2011 and March of 2012.  45 of the states gained jobs or stayed even in that same span.  Is the federal government in collusion with “Liberal Democrats” and “Big Union Bosses”?  How else could they come up with such numbers when you can come up with just the opposite?  Simply put, Wisconsin is not open for business.  It is open for businesses, for corporate benefactors who stand to gain from your giveaways to them and takeaways from the people who live here.

I will not be sending you a donation and I will not be voting for you.  I am confident that you will not see this letter, because you have yet to listen to regular Wisconsinites the way you listen to out-of-state millionaires and billionaires.  I wish you well in whatever you pursue after the governorship, but I hope with everything that is within me that your new career path will start in the next few weeks.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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4 Responses to Reply to Scott Walker

  1. Suzy Metta4 says:

    Very well written.

  2. Leslie Lauersdorf-Adam says:

    Thank you for so eloquently stating what so many Wisconsinites feel. I don’t quite understand how anyone could stand up for a man who has so obviously turned his back on the people who elected him.

  3. Kathy Harbaugh says:

    Such a great letter! I have a FB page, Kick Butt Liberals which I dedicated to the people of Wisc after being in Madison the second week of the protests. I was so moved by their spirit. but tonight, many of them are really down. The polls, the money and the lack of support from the DNC is taking a toll. I wish I had the talent to write something to give them hope but I feel I have lost some myself. Thank you for sharing your letter. We have posted it on Kick Butt Liberals FB page.

    • Terry Tinkle says:

      Thank you for your letter which main strength for me was your identification of Walker’s ploy of trying to make this about collective bargaining and Unions. You nailed it. It’s about much more slavery, age discrimination (young and old), unequal pay for woman, environmental destruction and social control. Keep on my friend after the Giant awakes maybe the sheep wwill follow.

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