Iron County Progressive

A Pyrrhic Victory for Wisconsin, and the Northwoods is still 20 Years behind the rest of the State


Good morning Wisconsin. Well it looks like sanity eked out a narrow victory for Biden in the Badger State, and I'm crossing my fingers that the other swing states follow suit.


I believe I am not alone, however, when I say my heart hearts for this country.


I wasn't awake, but Trump gave yet another monstrous speech filled with lies early this morning.


He claimed victory and said all remaining votes shouldn't be counted. That's like saying you have an hour to cook your Thanksgiving turkey, and if it's still not done in an hour, your family has to eat undercooked and bacteria-ridden turkey for dinner. Ridiculous.


And let's remember why it takes so long to count the ballots. In Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where we have Democratic governors but Republican majority legislatures, the Republicans forced the absentee ballots be counted on election day instead of being counted as they came in. This means that any confusion or worry about election rigging was caused by Republicans, thus Trump's speech is even more intellectually dishonest.


He is a dangerous man, and it should not have been this close. And that is why I'm sad for America...and Wisconsin.


Wisconsinites who voted for Trump voted for a man willing to burn the US to the ground to keep power, and we don't yet know if he will succeed in doing that, illegally.


I'm not willing to make nice with Trump voters yet, because my country will suffer because of their votes.


And yes, as expected, I lost my assembly race in grand fashion in this very conservative part of Wisconsin.


My goal was never to win this district, but to hold our Wisconsin Republican majority legislature accountable for putting us in danger because of their rejection of science in (non)dealing with the coronavirus.


Rob Swearingen was the state rep who wasn't yet being challenged when I called the Oneida County Democratic Party office after Wisconsin was forced to vote in person last April in the throes of Covid-terror.


I didn't know who he was at the time, but I volunteered to run against him because he was part of the problem--willing to put politics above Wisconsinites health. And he still is.


Little did I know that his rejection of Covid science would lead to the endangerment and death of his employees and relatives, which would cause such a contrast in how we ran our restaurants that the New York Times would fly to Minocqua to tell the story.


Then the Washington Post told the story, and then the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talked about our huge Biden sign and why I put it on the brewery-to hold republicans accountable for hurting us through Covid negligence.


Unfortunately, while national news understood the importance of this message in little Minocqua, in a race already pre-destined, our local papers--the Lakeland Times, River News, and the Vilas County News Review--couldn't be bothered to tell the true story of how our elected officials and local police have abdicated all responsibility to keep us safe.


And this is why the Northwoods is 20 years behind the rest of the state, and why it sometimes feels like one is continuously banging one's head against a concrete wall while living up here. Our elected officials, our police, and our 4th estate are an old boys network that benefits from complacency and navel gazing.


I hope that what we accomplished, at the very least, is that the negative spotlight on Covid negligence helped Rob Swearingen and the other folks who flaunted safety concerns to care more about their neighbors, or at least feel guilty enough to fake empathy for them. Like most Trump acolytes, however, I fear that the only thing that can change most of these people's minds is by either getting Covid themselves or losing a loved one to this terrible disease--and that is heartbreaking.


I'm proud of what our campaign has done, and want to thank a number of people.


First and foremost my campaign manager David Barnhill. David worked tirelessly to help educate me about the many issues other than Covid that affected our district. We gave approximately 7 fact-filled policy speeches (i'm too tired to county) throughout the district to inform constituents of things that were harming us and each of those speeches were a crash course for David and me.


I'd also like to thank my kitchen cabinet--Elisa, Ty, Tom, Nichole, John, Steven, Ed, Julia, and anyone else that may have shown up a few times. This was truly a group effort, I appreciate all of your help, and I hope many of you will take my lead and run for local office--the only way to really affect change in the Northwoods, I fear.


And I can't leave out the County Democratic Parties. The state party knew we were gonna lose and didn't really do much for us, but the small by mighty county parties worked their tails off making calls, writing postcards, and doing the things to get out the vote that are so important. You do that tedious work knowing that the cards are stacked against us and still do it because your heart tells you you have to to. That is wonderful.


And finally, thanks to everyone who donated to my campaign. We raised over $70K, which is great for an assembly race, and those donations were almost completely from online or mail-in donors. This was a 100% grassroots effort, which I am extremely proud of.


Friends, I'm sad and worried, like many of you, and I'm exhausted. I'm gonna pray a lot in the next few days and probably drink a fair amount of beer.


God bless Wisconsin, and god bless the USA.


Kirk Bangstad, Minocqua, Wisconsin.