I grew up in Wisconsin, and I went to undergrad at Madison. My parents grew up in Wisconsin, and went to undergrad at Madison. My grandparents grew up in Wisconsin, and also went to Madison.
My grandparents are dead now. But my parents still live in Wisconsin. My brother and I have relocated to our respective coasts - NYC and LA.
My mother is a teacher, and has been a teacher and respected union organizer for 40 years - her entire career. We grew up with excellent insurance and financial security. Now, my father has many chronic diseases, and my mother provides the insurance benefits that they depend on. Her union has a good relationship with the school board, but their contract is up soon, and no one can promise what will happen after that. Eventually my father will be too disabled to work. Premiums have already increased by 15% this past year.
So in speaking to my mother today, can any of you explain to me why my father voted for Walker?
My father will never, ever be able to get insurance on the open market. He has diabetes, Parkinson's, has had prostate cancer, and has high blood pressure. His retirement plan has gone spectacularly badly with only a few bad business decisions.
Walker's assault on the unions have emboldened most districts to start cutting health benefits and other benefits, resulting in waves of retirements and pending retirements for those who can afford to. Keep in mind that Wisconsin used to have some of the best districts and education in the entire country. Now all that is being undone in a matter of a few years.
And then there's job loss. My father likes to say that he believes in small business, because he used to own one. I can't tell you how often I heard him bray about how small businesses are the "engine of the economy" and therefore vote Republican. He still hates Obama. He calls me a "tree-bark eating liberal." He watches as Walker makes every attempt to gut Planned Parenthood, my employer. Wisconsin is now dead last in job creation. But he keeps mentioning "Obama's job crushing policies" and "overtaxing" job creators.
Let's not even talk about the university, which Walker hates. You know, that university that three generations of my family have attended, which prepared us well for life?
Three generations of my family have grown up in Wisconsin, given back to Wisconsin, and have appreciated the lessons for life we learned there. And yet, my father is voting for Walker. Walker, who is actively engaged in destroying my parents' livelihood and retirement (and mine, and my fellow abortion rights advocates').
I simply can't get my mind around WHY. This goes beyond voting against one's own interest. I don't even know what this is.
And the (almost) worst part? At the YMCA where my father swims, his coffee klatch of old men say he's "too liberal" and they really need to convince him to become more "conservative." He says this with pride. One day I said to him, "what's further right? Fascism?"
I really used to wonder how ordinary, good Germans watched the takeover from the sidelines, or didn't leave. And now I know. But I still don't understand.