At the time I’m writing this, early Monday afternoon, I’m aware of five politicians who have made public statements that they’re not attending Governor Walker’s “beer and brats summit” tomorrow: Dane County Democrats Mark Pocan (my representative in the state assembly) and Senator Jon Erpenbach; and Republicans Steve Nass, Andre Jacque, and Chad Weininger.
The Democrats, Pocan and Erpenbach, are making public statements that they don’t see the beer and brats summit as a means to an end; they say it’s more important to have a seat at the table when legislation is being discussed. Nass made a public statement about not going because he’s mad at the Democrats for saying snotty things over the weekend about Republicans.
Pocan and Erpenbach are, as usual, misguided; Nass is just an a-hole. No news here. Green Bay area Republican assemblymen Andre Jacque and Chad Weininger aren’t boycotting like Pocan, Erpenbach, and Nass; both say they made prior commitments to events in their district which they’re honoring.
Erpenbach, of course, was the de facto leader of the “Wisconsin 14”, who decamped for Illinois, putting off the inevitable for a few weeks and getting a lot of media. Pocan, who is running for U.S. Congress, is apparently sending the message to potential voters that he’ll have nothing to do with Republicans. Nass hates and is against everything, so, no surprise there.
Pocan and Erpenbach come from the bluest county in the state, and are possibly concerned that the people they listen to would think it traitorous of them to accept an invitation from The Imperial Walker, perhaps not realizing they’re sending a clear message to voters in the other 71 counties of Wisconsin that they’re not going to play ball with Walker, won’t drink his beer, won’t eat his brats, because god forbid, it might be Leinie’s beer from that Republican Leinenkugel family, and Johnsonville brats, from that right-wing sausage operation in Sheboygan County.
In the rest of the world, the part that’s not Dane County, when you get your ass kicked as hard as the Democrats did last week, and the winner invites you to a party in an attempt to say “no hard feelings, let’s turn a new page and work together”, to boycott the party would be seen as the petulant act of a spoiled child. Even one of the bluest of the blue politicians in Dane County, Dave Cieslewicz, has publicly called for Democrats to be gracious in defeat, to congratulate Governor Walker on his victory, and take him up on his offer to be more inclusive.
At the end of WW2, after the Allies kicked the ass of the Axis powers and the Japanese Empire, the U.S. led the other allied nations in rebuilding Europe and Japan, pouring untold money and manpower into healing the wounds of war and asking in return only for a few hundred acres of land to establish cemeteries to properly honor our troops who gave their lives. (If you have not been to France and seen the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, put it on your bucket list.)
We’ve strayed a long way from the path in Wisconsin, and obviously have much distance yet to travel in recovery. Those politicians who are boycotting the beer and brats summit have every right to do so. But they’ve only made the journey longer.