Donald Trump’s lengthy gloomy vision of America as he accepted the Republican nomination sounded, until near the end, like outtakes from “Kill Bill.”
It confirmed him as the nation’s darkest buffoon, a red-faced visitor to a sunless planet. But it took place in such gaudy triumphant surroundings of cheering fans, cascading balloons and well-spoken offspring from three marriages and multiple nannies that some may still not perceive how deeply untruthful was this wallow in the slimiest, sourest instincts of America.
That’s the worst thing about the heavy television presence inspired by both party’s conventions. They are hardly democracy at work but coronations – in Trump’s case a crown dipped in venom. Perhaps the Democrats will succeed in not seeming so far removed from real life but will that matter?
The media thrives on conflict. Expect more time by TV, radio, print and Internet devoted to digging out contrasting views, failures and fumbles. It is doubtful that any other convention could have as many of those as the Republicans just did. But television producers are praying for big stumbles or a convention so boring that they can complain about that.
All that time spent worrying about the conventions is pulling attention away in Wisconsin from the real opportunities for democracy in action. Let’s face it – Wisconsin will have minimal impact, one of 50 states and one of the modest ones in population, on the national scene or direction. There are ample months left to realistically accept our role.
But in the next few weeks the electorate can land enormous weight on the state’s future, district by district, county by county, city by city. And given who is now in charge of the state government, the time they have chosen for us to decide – August 9 – is the worst imaginable for strong turnout and strong change.
What are you doing August 9? Students of all ages are out of school and hoping for a break from using their brains. Families are on vacation. Baseball, Olympics and nearby lakes beckon. Everyone feels lazy. This is the worst time to impose a schedule on yourself outside stern orders from your doctor. Early voting is possible right now, but even that requires getting out of the hammock.
You’ll hear lots of justifications for the Aug. 9 date, suggesting the post office is so slow that sticky August is required to handle absentee ballots in time for Nov. 8. Even Federal Express will find that hard to believe.
Yet August 9 is a vital date for the electorate to change the face of Wisconsin. It is the date voters actually have multiple choices that either decide Nov. 8 races or permanently shape them.
Statewide as we recently surveyed, there are numerous contests from the House on down that either limit or expand the voters’ horizons.
Milwaukee County’s most important race determines if the unruly children take over the district attorney’s office or if the incorruptible John Chisholm can provide four more years of nationally recognized progress on justice issues.
And as has previously been reported in detail, 575,000 citizens of the city of Milwaukee are facing wrenching choices within the Democratic Party, from coalitions of the least progressive to coalitions of the most progressive – and the least progressive apparently have the most dark money and secretive campaign methods.
Whoever wins the Aug. 9 battle determines the direction of legislation.
Sure, that national arena is always interesting or amusing. (Notice how Trump slid away from blaming all Muslims to saying we should not let in people from regions of the world “compromised by terrorists”? From that wording, folks from France, Belgium and Germany had better give up tourism plans. After carefully pronouncing LBGTQ as if he never heard it before, he wants to protect them from foreign terrorists, while they want protection from the hatred next door – including Trump’s choice for VP.)
Oops, just proved how easy it is to get sidetracked by national jokes.
Ignore the conventions. Get all the information you can on local contests. There’s lots of work to do here at home -- in a time frame deliberately chosen to distract us from real change.