[POSTED: JUNE 5, 2012]
Wisconsin residents are voting today on whether to remove Gov. Scott Walker, the state’s lieutenant governor and three Republican state senators from office. We asked Wisconsinites of all political stripes about the long-term effects the recall process will have on Wisconsin’s identity. Here’s how Public Insight Network sources are describing the atmosphere there.
Mike Kessler of St. Croix Falls:
It’s terrible here in Wisconsin. Family, friends, and neighbors are divided to the point where no discussion - of any type - is happening. It’s a bit unnerving in that one can see how a civil conflict can start. We eye each other with a combination of distrust and cynicism asking the silent question: “How can you possibly be for the ‘other’ candidate?”
Esther George of Milwaukee:
The recall process has renewed my faith in our democracy. That we have been able to mount a recall attempt is encouraging to me as a voting citizen. It makes me feel that my vote does count.
Margo Haig of Glendale:
We are now viewed as that “crazy state” due to the uncivil behavior of the Democratic demonstrators and the ridiculousness of a recall of a governor who campaigned on his intentions and carried those campaign promises out. Recall is not the way to remedy this.
Rebecca Stenberg of St. Croix Falls:
The issues have become so divisive that, for the first time, a person really takes big risks when they put a sign in their lawn.
I know which candidate I support, but I’m afraid to put a sign in my yard because I don’t want to lose friends. There’s no discussing the issues anymore — it’s become “us vs. them.” You’re either on one side or the other and it can get very, very ugly.
Andy Mitchell of Burlington:
I’m beginning to understand what the Civil War was like. Neighbors not talking to neighbors, families divided, friendships ended. Extremism has changed the the way people approach each other and how conversations start.
On the flip side, I now have some very good friends that 15 months ago I would have never met. I no longer discuss politics with a cousin of mine. We swap pictures and jokes, and that’s about it. Same goes with a friend of mine since sixth grade.
I have several coworkers that no longer speak to siblings. My wife has defriended several from Facebook that have had contrary views. I have done that to a few, but typically I have just blocked all their postings.
Rolland Roggensack of Lancaster:
I meet for coffee with a group of professional friends each morning. One, a retired dentist, is married to a school teacher. They will be voting for separate candidates tomorrow. Our coffee group prefers to avoid discussing this deplorable recall I suppose for fear of offending someone.
Greg Earhart of Kenosha:
As someone who didn’t sign the recall but has voted Democratic, I’m in the odd position of being solicited by both parties. What I notice the most is the prevalence of mail and advertising originating from out of state.
Where once there was common ground between parties, now the only common principle that either party tries to espouse says, to the effect of, “We don’t want to become like Illinois.”
Brian O’Handley of Sturgeon Bay:
While I understand politics and political rhetoric has become more heated since the 2000 presidential election, it seems white-hot now in Wisconsin.
The dialogue between people on opposite sides of the recall battle is more talking AT each other, if they even bother to have a dialogue at all. There seems to be a lot of animosity on both sides of this issue.
Our state motto is, “Forward.” That’s a difficult direction to go in when the state seems evenly divided on where we want Wisconsin to be in the years ahead.
I teach in a public elementary school. Whenever talk of the recall vote comes up in class, many students become vocal and animated. Not much in the way of consensus and debate, more along the lines of name-calling of the candidates (liar, stupid, etc.). I understand many students are bringing in their parent/s’ politics, but it’s still disheartening to listen to.
James Yoho of Wausau:
Wisconsin is now a bitterly divided state, and regardless of who wins what seats the state will take some time to recover from the schism. I personally am alienated from friends and family, and I know that if things go the wrong way my family is moving out of the state.
No matter who wins today, we want to know what changes YOU’RE seeing in the character of Wisconsin. Tell us here.
(Wisconsin Recall card designed by Mary C. Bruno. Photo by Mary McComb of Stevens Point, Wis.)