My friend Jon and I were hired to do an editorial cartoon for Isthmus one month before Scott Walker was elected as governor of Wisconsin.
I was hired for a job at UW-Madison three days before Act 10 was announced.
My wife is a teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
For almost four years, state-level politics has been an ever present part of my life on a daily basis. And I am really, really tired of it.
I'm tired of watching far-right bills sail through the Legislature and get a quick signature from the governor's desk. Any challenges to the legislation get to go through a feckless state supreme court.
Wisconsin has become a laboratory of extreme policies, and I feel like a lab rat.
One-party rule leaves one-half of the population ecstatic and the other half miserable. We’ve never had a healing process in Wisconsin since early 2011, and the majority's constant, aggressive legislative agenda just keeps reopening that wound. Divided government would give us all some good days and bad days. Taking a break would let all of us come to terms with the seismic and in many cases permanent changes that have taken place over the last four years. Electing Mary Burke is, of course, the only feasible option to achieve that kind of balance.
A divided government won't magically make all parties in Wisconsin come together, but it would create an environment more conducive to healing.
I want to go back to a time when everything moved a little slower. When I wouldn't care if the Legislature passed a crazy bill because it would just get vetoed. When I could ignore the governor's drastic policy pushes because I knew the Legislature would sand off the rough edges in the process of getting it passed.
It has gotten to the point that I miss 2010, when the biggest political stories in Madison involved some people who were way too passionate against raw milk and some folks who were worried that the Willy Street Coop's driveway was out to murder children.
I'm tired of wondering what new seismic shift is going to endanger my family's financial future. Too many people treat politics like a sport, as though they are cheering on a team. But these policy decisions do have an impact on real people. If politics is a football game, I feel like the football. Maybe a lab rat inside a football. My metaphors are becoming strained.
I'm tired of feeling like the enemy.
When national conservatives demonize Obama, or Wisconsin liberals attack Walker, they are attacking a proxy, a representative. With no Democrats in power in Wisconsin, the last four years have made it feel like a large portion of the population has targeted Madison as the enemy. We Madisonians probably earned some of that image amidst the ultra-charged rhetoric of 2011 and the recalls. Liberals have also done their fair share of dehumanizing conservatives as though they are a pack of zombies infected by the all-mighty talk radio.
I'm tired of hating and being hated. I don't care who made the environment so polarized. It's a nasty, vicious circle that feeds on itself at this point. I just want it to stop. I'd love it if conservatives got angry at a Democratic governor, if liberals got angry at Republican legislators, and we'd stop getting angry at each other just because of our voting choices.
I'm tired, and you are probably tired too. You have a choice on Tuesday to keep the toxicity flowing, or to let all of us get some rest.