Seriously, people, I could cry. Or start banging my head against the wall. Or maybe a little of both. Because what started two months ago as a massive protest movement against extreme legislation by Wisconsin Republicans has turned into a legal shitstorm and a supreme court election that has given me a 3-day headache so bad we're about to run out of Advil.
What's got me so frustrated aren't the details of the situation here, maddening and confusing as they all are. My problem here is that the discussion has the reasonable citizens of this state arguing for and defending the fundamental purpose of government. If you are a true believer in the democratic process - flawed as it may be - you probably share my view that we ARE the government. And what is government's role but to protect its own people? Our public institutions - our schools, libraries, parks, public institutions of higher education, access to healthcare for the poor, you name it - are under threat because a few people with a lot of power and without a whole lot of sense refuse to acknowledge the importance of these public institutions and organizations to the very fabric and well-being of our society as a whole.
Gutting public education benefits no one and promotes ignorance. Crippling municipalities by slashing their funding for things like mandated recycling programs and public transportation does NOT give them "flexibility" but forces them to eliminate basic services that people depend on. Severely limiting the rights of workers to collectively negotiate their own work conditions is degrading and demoralizing. It also pisses off a whole lot of people. I could go on here, but my point is that instead of engaging in civilized discourse about how our public systems should be run, we've degenerated into a ideological fight over whether the government should actually be responsible for the well-being of its own citizens.
This is, I think, at the heart of the potential federal shutdown looming before us as well. I'm not going to go on about corporate power controlling people in government because, well, it's there and it's a big problem and I don't have anything new to say about it...except that there just seems to be so little balance remaining on the side of citizenry. I truly fear for the future. I truly fear for what lies in store for my children when they are grown up and on their own. What world will they face? What sort of a country will they live in?
I'm not saying that if JoAnne Kloppenburg (whose name I can finally spell correctly, sheesh) ends up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the world will be saved somehow, or even Wisconsin. It's just that for a whole day I had hope that the actions (re: votes) of us ordinary citizens would make a difference and get us going back in the right direction.