Wednesday, November 7, 2018


By Dominique Paul Noth

The tight victory of Evers and Barnes should not disguise
the difficult Wisconsin they inherit.
Now that the blue wave has subsided into a light drizzle, it is time for a writer whose desire for a blue tsunami is on record to point out that in Wisconsin in particular the feeble drizzle is simply not enough for lasting comfort. The nation will spend two more years ruing the day they resisted a full monty stripping of the emperor’s clothes.

What we are in for was signaled by Trump while votes for Senate seats were still being counted (including some good news for Democrats).  But the moment he was assured the GOP would continue control of the Senate, probably even picking up a seat, he replaced the US attorney general with his own hatchet man, Matthew Whitaker, who has mused about defunding the special counsel and was serving as Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff (or Judas goat, apparently, or quisling, if you prefer).

Even more toothless than before, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that any attack on Robert Mueller’s probe of presidential collusion and corruption would produce a constitutional crisis. Trump is in effect saying, “Bring it on, Jewman” (allegedly his off-camera description of a fellow New Yorker, which certainly fits his tendency toward vile nicknames).

While suburban and urban voters clearly rejected Trump’s religious, race  and immigrant baiting, there were enough voters mainly in red states (or states where the blue could not muster the strength at the ballot) to nod in agreement over the degree of slime  and fall back on the false equivalency that both sides were equally responsible for the toxic tone.

Some of them even embraced Trump’s threat about the caravan, not believing the reality of media reports about asylum seekers a thousand miles away. Some truly bought how evil was the treatment of Kavanaugh as opposed to how mightily he was protected.  Some believed that Trump would never actually act as white nationalistic as he was palavering.  They are in for a surprise – or secretly welcomed his nastiness given how many seem willing blind men feeling the side of an elephant, practiced in ignoring his darkly autocratic tone.

This is why, though I have to be happy for Tony Evers pulling out a victory over the long disastrous Scott Walker – and amused to see Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, slapped down by her boss when she pulled  a Sarah Palin moment on election eve;  and as fervently delighted as I am to see Mandela Barnes lend authority to the lieutenant’s job and Josh Kaul to straighten out the mess left by Brad Schimel at the attorney general’s office – the harsh reality is that the cowardice of the Wisconsin voter left the results in doubt all election night and now have left Evers a larger mountain than  any reformist governor should have to face. If only the voters had done a full job.

Baldwin's expected but undeniably great win.
So let’s give out the knee-jerk Eureka at how well Democratic governors did (this is quietly revolutionary for the election map future of the nation, but don’t expect changes in Wisconsin), the undeniable greatness of Tammy Baldwin's win and how the switch of the US House to Democratic control does provide some needed teeth to check the president’s tendencies and more importantly preserve health coverage of pre-existing conditions and threatened Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Let’s now look more cold-bloodedly. Many future Democratic stars went down to defeat Nov. 6.   The House gains were not as high as they could have been.  The Senate may never have been in the cards unless the electorate awoke. It didn’t.

I admit that politics is more complicated than movie mythmaking and never as satisfying. But I can’t ignore the dream I had Nov. 5 of the conclusion of the third original “Star Wars” – the emperor, screaming bile and throwing lightning bolts from his hands, falls into the abyss denied even a toehold for evil to survive.  (Even my dream knew better than to compare Trump to Darth Vader, since there is no repentance under our president’s mask.)

America, in its wisdom, has left Trump that toehold from which to hurl thunderbolts – and he may even climb back out to release havoc and require an even bigger stake in the heart in 2020.  If only political ugliness could be destroyed as cleanly as in movies.  But reality and the voters have left it difficult.

We have to face it – America is more difficult.  Voter suppression still works in sections.  Gerrymandering continues to rule Wisconsin. Nov. 6 demonstrated even a larger gulf between rural and urban (an oversimplification of the media, I admit), a sober reality that disaster will have to be upon many, strangling their breath as it was in the Great Depression, before they accept the slow steady pace of resurrection that democracy imposes.  And even then many didn’t.

Look at the map.  With the exception of Florida, which is always a weird anomaly in US elections, disaster has to be upon the slow learning public before it ever acts.

The economy may be out of tilt, but as long as it seems to deliver to the many, okay, and to hell with the poorer.  Waves may engulf homes, fires may destroy communities, pollutants may choke drinking water, the apocalypse created much by man’s activity may be congealing but right now, while some of the immediately threatened may want to respond, the complacent communities dominate and can roll on feeling validated by ignorance

Before I am accused of excess negativism, let me ask you simply:  Did you really expect that all of the fine new enthusiasts running for Wisconsin legislature would be turned aside by the Republicans refusing even to engage them on the issues? See update below.  Did you really think the voters wouldn’t see through that GOP incumbent game and relentless ad profusion?

Has anyone grasped that, even if Evers viewed himself as a transitional figure rather than a new governor for many terms as Wisconsin moves to more sensible policies and undoes some horrors left behind, he would have to do so with a more resistant, more conservative remnant of the Walker machine completely in place?

Did anyone realize that by not destroying Trump’s hold on the Senate we are in for months if not years of the White House’s avoidance of responsibility and free hand to do considerable damage?  While most of us don’t want the House to behave vindictively or be sidetracked into attacking Trump directly, he is clearly eager for them to do just that and will ride the outliers of constitutional waves to the max to keep the toxicity going.

So cheer for what you can, but don’t forget to buckle down and be forced to work even harder to bring the US back to a nation its own citizens, much less the world, can respect and admire. We didn’t do that Nov. 6 and have to try try again.

UPDATE UNCONFIRMED BY LOCAL MEDIA, WHICH HAS BEEN SLOW ON THIS: New reports suggest that Robyn Vining has won Assembly District 14 over Matt Adamzyk because both Waukesha and Milwaukee counties had tabulation changes that swung her 153 more votes. 

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee.  

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