Monday, October 4, 2010

Road Trip!

I started noticing the changes just north of Rosendale in Fond du Lac County. The trees became much more colorful, and the Ron Johnson signs became much larger and appeared far more frequently. Scott Walker signs were in evidence everywhere. As I’d told my Chicago-born-and-raised wife, I’m from a different part of the world that’s NOT like Madison; I’m from the Fox Valley.

Saturday morning, after having determined that my broken-ribbed wife was able to navigate on her own for several hours, that she had good pain meds on board, and that the dogs were prepared to protect, defend, and nurse her, I grabbed a bunch of my favorite CD's and headed up to Hortonville in her Dodge Magnum R/T HEMI, leaving my foreign-made SUV in the garage. It’s fun to drive her powerful machine every so often, and her car hasn’t seen much use since she busted that rib on the 17th of last month in a fall leaving the Dave Matthews Band concert at Wrigley Field with her sister and brother. She can’t drive with a load of morphine and oxycodone on board.

Mom had put out a call to all her children that Saturday was “fall action day”, with a long list of tasks she needed help with – moving furniture out of her bedroom, which is being re-painted and re-carpeted tomorrow; putting the summer outside stuff away for the winter; cutting down the peonies; that sort of stuff. All too often m y siblings who still live in the Fox Valley manage these things without my help, but I knew it was time for me to pitch in.

Election season is when you see the obvious visual clues that the politics of the Fox Valley are not at all like the politics of Madison and environs. The yard signs are a dead giveaway that Republicans rule the roost up there. Just north of Rosendale on HiWay 26 I saw the first gigantic Ron Johnson billboard, and as I hit HiWay 41 just south of Oshkosh, the Johnson and Walker signs and billboards proliferated.

There was a HUGE billboard on HiWay 41 near Neenah proclaiming “Fiengold + Kagen = PORKSPENDERS!” with an illustration of a pig under the huge letters. Steve Kagen is the allergy-clinic king and DEMOCRAT who holds – tenuously – the Congressional seat in that neck of the woods. He’s in as much trouble as Feingold this time around. Can you imagine seeing a “Feingold + Baldwin = PORKSPENDERS!” billboard in Dane County?

As I exited HiWay 41 at HiWay 15 in Appleton for the quick jog over to Hortonville, I counted ONE political sign for a Democratic candidate (Barrett) along the hiway through Greenville to Hortonville, a lonely little petunia among the huge forest of yard signs and billboards for Republican candidates.

It was a quick trip up and back, with just time enough to get through mom’s “to-do” list and spend some quality time visiting with my family members. But it was enough to reinforce my suspicion that it’s more than just the color of the leaves that will be changing this fall.


  1. As the Milwaukee JS' very astute political-beat writer observed, NO (D) candidate has EVER been elected statewide unless they got 60% (or more) of Milwaukee County votes.

    Unless a nuclear bomb hits something, that means that Tom Barrett is a zombie as of last week, and most likely Feingold is the same.

    I cannot imagine that Kagen will survive in the FRV, either, but I'm not as close to that as you are.

    What is REALLY mysterious--so far--is the Wisconsin Legislature and Senate outcome.

  2. >> There was a HUGE billboard on HiWay 41 near Neenah proclaiming “Fiengold + Kagen = PORKSPENDERS!” <<

    We had my mom and sister, Kate, over for dinner on Friday during which my sister mentioned a couple political things. Both of them are staunch Democrats. My mom, being wise, keeps her political comments to a minimum since she knows that she doesn't enjoy it when social occassions morph into political bickering.

    My sister isn't quite as reticent. She went to powder her nose and saw my copy of Christopher Horner's "Power Grab", with its gloriously provocative subtitle, "How Obama's Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America". When she came back to the dinner table she said, archly, "So! Everything that's wrong with American can be laid at Obama's feet! Bush had nothing to do with it!", or words to that effect. She wasn't really spoiling for a fight, so I said, "Nope, we're in the mess thanks in equal measure to the Democrats AND the Republicans." Somewhat mollified, we turned to other, less incendiary topics.

    Later, though, Kate mentioned that very same billboard on Highway 41. I hadn't seen it, so this was the first time I'd heard of it. My only remark when she mentioned Kagen's name was, "Ah! Dr. Millionaire!" My mother and sister both looked at me with gimlet eyes. I hastily said that Kagen called HIMSELF that, which they found hard to believe.

    Upon looking up the term on the glorious GoreNet, I found a piece from the Shawano Leader in which Kagen confirmed that when he met Karl Rove in a White House men's room, he called himself "Dr. Multimillionaire". This was part of an evening much talked-about at the time and upon which I commented.

    As far as the political leaves changing this fall, I have a new metaphor for you:

    The growth of government with the advance of the progressive agenda is like a fine old sugar maple tree. The maple sap flows and the tree puts out new leaves every spring and grows and spreads its innumerable branches throughout the summer. That's when the Democrats are in power. In the fall the leaves change and fall off and the maple endures the winter season of bare branches and melancholy. That's when the Stupid Party -- I mean, the Republican Party -- is in power. But the spring always comes again when the Republicans are turned out and our government can grow unfettered once more.

    The only place where the metaphor limps is the fact that government still grows while Republicans are in power. Maybe the tree is an evergreen?

    The Town Crank