Iron County Progressive

 

 

A MESSAGE FROM KIRK BANGSTAD

I often say this, that hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” --Bryan Stephenson, Professor NYU School of Law.
 
And conversely, without justice, it’s hard to keep hope alive, and Wisconsinites were just punched below the belt once again.
 
Of course I’m referring to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision last Friday to adopt state legislative maps drawn by Republicans, reversing a prior decision to adopt the Governor’s maps, following an utterly meritless intervention by the ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court.  Governor Evers said it best…This was “an unconscionable miscarriage of justice for which the people of this state will see no reprieve for another decade.”
 
This is just the latest decision that, in my mind, adds to a very bleak picture of politics in Wisconsin and America.
 
To me, Wisconsinites can no longer depend on our judicial nor legislative branches of government to protect our democracy, and arguably the same thing can be said about those two branches at the federal level.
 
At the state level, it’s been one disappointment after the next, resulting from what seems like an ugly partnership between our Republican-dominated state legislature and our conservative-majority state Supreme Court.  Wisconsinites have lived through it, but it’s worth retelling…

  • April 2020, weeks after being told to shelter at home, Governor Evers smartly tried to suspend in-person voting, but that ruling was immediately challenged by the Republican legislature and overturned by our state’s Supreme Court.
  • May 2020, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court again sided with Republicans in overturning Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, which turned our state into a Covid Wild West.
  • March 2021, Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Evers’ Mask Mandate, against overwhelming evidence that indoor masking reduced the spread of Covid.
  • November 2021,  although this doesn’t involve the state Supreme Court, we’re gonna throw in the decision by a Wisconsin judge to acquit Kyle Rittenhouse, a figure who represents everything wrong about vigilante justice, racism, and our out-of-control gun culture, as another example of our broken judicial system.

 
Yeah but that’s only the story of the highly dysfunctional state of Wisconsin since the pandemic.  AT LEAST we can depend on the U.S. Supreme Court for justice and our U.S. Congress, which in theory is controlled by Democrats, right?  Nope.

And on, and on, and on, and on.
 
It appears that we can no longer depend on the judicial and legislative branches of government in Wisconsin and America to protect justice and democracy, and that’s almost enough to make a person start losing hope.

Yes, Wisconsin’s Governor Evers has vetoed the most egregious bills coming from our right-wing legislature, and President Biden has presided over a historically impressive post-covid economy, but that somehow doesn’t dispel my sense of dread. There just seems to be, even within the Democratic Party, this unwritten and feckless Neville Chamberlain-esque policy of appeasement towards ever-growing Republican fascism. 
 
It feels like we’re losing even though we have a Congressional Democratic majority and a Democratic president.  I think this is in part because we’ve never shed the Stockholm syndrome we contracted during the Trump years, but also because we have an entire media empire that profits off of Republican bullying, misinformation, and fear. It may be a false perception, but it seems to me like our national Democratic or Democratically-appointed leaders—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators Manchin/Sinema, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and even President Biden, to a certain degree, have become afflicted with this syndrome and too often respond to Republican criminal bullying, projection, and disinformation with the policy of  “appeasement,” hoping that as long as we don’t make the these bullies any angrier, they will stop hurting us. 
 
And “appeasement” does not inspire hope because most adults know that if you don’t stand up to bullies, they’re gonna keep beating you up.
 
So where do we find hope?
 
That’s a hard one for me, because I’ve been trying to keep my own hope alive by finding creative ways to bring common sense and justice back to Wisconsin.  In the last year, we spent tons of money reminding voters, through phone campaigns and television ads, that Republican gerrymandering was cheating. We sued school boards who rejected CDC masking guidelines, making schools vectors for Covid in communities.  And of course, we most recently sued to remove Ron Johnson, Tom Tiffany, and Scott Fitzgerald from office for aiding and abetting the insurrection on January 6th.
 
But the money we spent against gerrymandering didn’t give us Fair Maps, the lawsuit against school boards moved too slowly to protect communities, and I fear that even if we win our current federal lawsuit against these traitors, the suit will ultimately be sent to the 6-3 majority right-wing Trump-appointed U.S. Supreme Court, where justice will be subverted yet again.
 
It’s enough to sap one’s hope.  It really is.

 

 

But you know what?  Today is Easter, and if the story of Easter doesn’t give one hope in seemingly hopeless times, I don’t know what will.
 
Jesus Christ! (said in acclimation not in prayer) if a dude can rise from the dead (either literally or proverbially) and give hope to future generations of mankind that their sins will be forgiven, then Jesus Christ!, we might as well keep fighting the good fight, because we HAVE to have FAITH that somehow, justice will prevail.
 
And you know what?  I truly believe that if normal people keep fighting, for no other reason than having FAITH in a divinity that requires them to fight for a return to justice, kindness, and decency, that this FAITH alone, regardless of the outcome, will provide the hope that the rest of society needs to reject the creeping cynicism that our United States may have fallen irreparably into disrepair.

So I'm going to keep on fighting, specifically NOT because I'm a political leader, but because I'm a concerned citizen, just like the rest of you. I don't know how we're gonna win, but we're certainly not going to win if we lose hope.
 
So folks, if there was ever a day to have FAITH and keep HOPE alive, it is today, Easter, April 17th, 2022.
 
Thanks for reading and thanks for sticking with us.
 
Together, we can make Wisconsin Great Again, one beer and Easter ham at a time.
 
Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC.