I don’t know what to call myself any more. I’m not a Kennedy-style liberal or “Janesville Democrat”, as my old pal Sly calls it. I’m not the same young man whose first real political involvement was to campaign for the late Republican Bill Steiger, in his successful 1967 run for Congress in the seat Tom Petri now holds. I wasn’t old enough to vote for Steiger, but even in ’67 he looked younger than me.
I used to think I was a libertarian, believing it was the role of government to deliver the mail and defend the shores and leave me alone. And I’m not a tea party person, and don’t really fit in with the Americans For Prosperity movement. So I’ll stick with “independent”. Some would say “curmudgeon” fits best.
Today, tax day, is as good a day as any to try and figure out which label, of the many available, fits you best. A number of years ago, during my WTDY days, Sly asked everybody at the station to take some sort of “test” that would tell you just how liberal or conservative you are. Answer 40 questions and find out what label fits. Sly, of course, was as far left on the spectrum as you could get. Chris Krok, the controversial mid-day talk show host, who’s been (like me) fired in every market he’s ever worked in, and has just landed a new gig in Dallas, was somewhere right of Attila the Hun.
Two staff members scored right smack dab in the middle of the liberal-conservative spectrum: Pam Jahnke (the “Fabulous Farm Babe”), and me. No one was surprised. We’re both small-town ‘sconnies who believe you determine your own fate based on your effort, that you give a hand up but not a hand out, that you have to give an honest day’s work to get an honest day’s pay, and all that stuff. Neither liberal nor conservative values, to be sure, but compatible with “independent”.
Today from 11:30 to 1 the Taxpayer Tea Party will be held on the capitol square, sponsored by the group Americans For Prosperity. I’ve lived in Madison long enough to know who’ll be up there on the square at noon, drinking in the rhetoric from Vicki McKenna and Tommy Thompson and that crew. They’ll talk about deficit attention disorder (sort of an intriguing re-arrangement of words), bailouts, and socialism. And we’ll find out if Tommy’s running, I guess.
I don’t fit in with that crowd, even though I think the biggest blunder in recent history was the bailout of the “too big to fail” financial houses. I think Sarah Palin is the most dangerously stupid person on the planet. And if word got out that I favored a single-payer health insurance system, the tea party folks would run me off the square. Even if I told them I think “the great train robbery” is the biggest government boondoggle in Wisconsin history.
I’m not like former Madison School Board member Bill Keys, who claimed to be happiest when he was writing out his check to pay his property tax bill. But I think the current crop of politicians has failed us horribly in making education a real priority in this state – and paying for it.
And I don’t want any government – federal, state, or local – to bail out one more thing, with my tax dollars or money borrowed from my kids’ grandchildren.
So I guess the label “independent” still fits pretty well. Happy tax/tea day.