Letter to Senators on Lame Duck Session

Respect Our Vote

Respect Our Vote. The Overpass Light Brigade with a message at Wisconsin’s Capitol, December 3, 2018.

Right now in Wisconsin, Republican leadership has proposed a slew of legislation that would effectively undermine the duly elected Governor and Attorney General, among other things. There are five Republican Senators who have not committed to vote for these bills and if even two of them defect from their party leadership the bills cannot pass. Today I sent the following letter to each of them:

Dear Senator,

When you are elected to a Senate seat you are elected to represent the people in your district, but in a larger sense you are elected to do what is right for all of Wisconsin’s citizens. The people of Wisconsin elected Tony Evers as Governor and Josh Kaul as Attorney General, among other statewide offices won by Democrats. Currently, the Republican leadership is trying to push through multiple bills that take away power from both of those offices, among other last-minute attempts to consolidate power and sneakily slip through other things like a tax break for households that make over $200,000 a year. That is not a break for most Wisconsinites. Likewise, the power grab behind most of this legislation is not what’s right for Wisconsin.

I am sure that you understand that Wisconsin’s citizens are considerably smarter than the Republican leadership believes. Everyone sees through the flimsy reasoning that they are giving for the necessity of these bills and for pushing them through in a special lame duck session with little to no time for citizen input or even for Assembly and Senate representatives to fully read through them. Nobody is being fooled by any of it and voters will remember this come election time.

Wisconsinites have a history of supporting open, clean, honest government. When Victor Berger was elected to Congress as a Socialist in the early 1900s and Congress refused to seat him and called another election, the people of this state elected him again with more votes. There were many citizens who acknowledged that they didn’t like him but voted for him the second time because–whether they liked it or not–the citizens of the state had elected him. The same thing happened with Scott Walker’s recall election. Many voters were quoted as saying they hadn’t voted for Scott Walker in the first place, but voted for him in the recall election because they didn’t believe it was right to recall him just because some people didn’t like his policies. We are an independent and stubborn people and we will remember who did the right thing and who caved in to party leadership.

Please note that along with many Wisconsin residents I am not a Republican or Democrat. I am an independent voter who will vote for the candidate, not the party. In one election several years ago I voted for four different parties. I will happily do what I can to help unseat any legislator who votes for these lame duck bills and will also do what I can to support those who vote with the majority of Wisconsin’s citizens rather than the majority party. I believe that you know that these proposals are not good for Wisconsin and I fervently hope you will consider your conscience and do the right thing. Please do not let us down.

Addendum: For those Wisconsinites who wish to contact one of the Senators who may be convinced to do the right thing, they are: Senators Cowles, Fayen, Olsen, Petrowski, and Testin.

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 Amazon.com (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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