From our friend Waring Fincke's WB Daily News column on the opening of the Washington County Democratic Party HQ on Main Street in West Bend.
Washington County Dems stand up to be heard
Since January, a grass roots progressive movement has emerged from the shadows in Washington County. Fueled by the Grothman and Walker/Kleefisch recall campaigns and reactions to the draconian changes the regressive right wing of the GOP has used to impale Wisconsin public workers, Democrats and Independents are being joined by disaffected moderate Republicans to find a more reasonable path for Wisconsin’s future. A much more robust Democratic Party of Washington County is now alive and well.
All these folks will find a comfortable home at the new headquarters of the county Party located at 132 N. Main St. in downtown West Bend. Rather than the “war room,” as labeled in a recent Daily News article, the new office will be a resource center for those who need help and those who want to be part of bringing a more reasoned approach to the problems of our communities. We picked a location downtown on Main Street so there could be no doubt that we are not hiding from anyone. Rest assured that we are completely funded by local donations and plan to keep it that way.
We will be working to help elect Democratic candidates in partisan races to be sure, but that will not be our only focus. We will lend support to thoughtful and reasonable people who run in nonpartisan races for County Board, city council, town and village boards and school board seats as well. What we look for are people who want to serve in public office and make decisions based upon facts, science and logic, not ideologies that serve narrow special interests or religious beliefs.
In addition to supporting public officials who share these values, we will be working on local, state and federal legislative proposals that advance the common good and meet people’s needs. We plan to organize groups across the county to raise unified positions on issues that negatively impact our schools and communities. These groups will come together to help each other out as local issues arise that need to be addressed.
This model worked during the recall campaigns when people from all political stripes came together to help with the effort. They did it in the cold and snow and the heat of the summer. They stood up in the rain and sleet to help others make their voices heard. They did not buckle in response to ridicule or harassment. We felt these folks deserved a home.
The demographics are interesting. There are teachers and other public-sector workers concerned with the loss of their collective bargaining rights. There are retirees concerned about the health and maintenance of the Wisconsin Retirement System. There are young parents and business people concerned about the deterioration of the public school systems. There are working people whose middle class aspirations have been dashed as their unemployment benefits run out. There are people who have lost homes to foreclosure and jobs to outsourcing and foreign competition. There are women and men concerned about women’s health care and the need for a comprehensive health-care system that ensures everyone has access to affordable health care. There are people who support strong defense and those who are glad the war in Iraq is over. There are people who support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender or status.
Not all share all of these positions, but all recognize it is only through collective action that their individual goals can be achieved. The tent is large. Come in and look around. You’ll find something to do and a place where your voice is heard.
I must disclose that I am the new vice-chair of the local Democratic Party and part of the new leadership team that brought these changes to the group. Perhaps those who read my previous columns figured out that I was probably a Democrat. Some readers who wrote in response obviously thought I was much further to the left.
We plan to be around past this year’s election cycle to help fight for fairness, justice and compassion. With the help of our friends, we will stay down on Main St. until the task is accomplished. You can find out more at http://www.washingtoncountywisdems.org.
(Waring R. Fincke practices law and politics in the town of Barton.)
So say we all.