My grandparents on my mother's side were dairy farmers. I lived on their farm for a year when I was about 6, but I have never been a dairy farmer. There's one thing I know about dairy farms, though. The cows must be milked every day. You can't turn them off. My mother tells me that the only time she can remember my grandfather not working was when he was in the hospital to have his appendix out. I don't know if that's completely accurate, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. My grandparents worked. That's just what they did. After they retired from farming and moved into town, they volunteered to manage the local Society of St. Vincent De Paul thrift store. You know - taking it easy in their golden years.
Farmers kick ass, which is one reason why I am supporting State Senator Kathleen Vinehout in the Democratic primary for governor of Wisconsin. I want someone who is going to work hard to restore our state to what it was prior to 2011. From her biography:
Prior to being elected to the Senate, Kathleen was the primary operator of the family's dairy farm near Alma. She received many quality milk awards and was elected president of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association in Buffalo County. The farm is now certified organic and produces hay and grain.
Being the "primary operator" of a family dairy farm is at least 2 full time jobs.
I also want a governor who's educated and smart...
Before she and her husband started their dairy farm, Kathleen directed both graduate and undergraduate programs in health administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield. For ten years she was a member of the faculty and taught in the Health Services Administration and Women's Studies Programs. Her focus was state health policy, health care organization, the history of health care reform and health problems facing rural communities.
I want someone who understands the struggles of working families in Wisconsin and knows that after all the politics of the last year, it's still about fair wages, decent health care, quality public schools and clean, efficient government that solves problems...
Her first job was as a nursing assistant. She has worked in staff and management roles in a variety of settings including a university medical center, primary care, acute care, home care and long term care. As a farmer she and her family spent nearly two years without health insurance.
Nurses, like farmers, have to be practical. They have to do what works. Governors should be more like that. I want someone who can start to weave this torn state back together. I believe Sen. Vinehout can do it. Her record in the state Senate is not without some controversy, but I'm convinced that's because she is willing to take a risk to achieve consensus.
Finally, I want to support someone who is intimately associated with the Wisconsin uprising of the past year, someone who showed some guts. Sen. Vinehout is one of the brave 14 state senators who left the state last year to slow down Act 10. I'd say that was pretty gutsy, wouldn't you?
I spoke to Sen. Vinehout today, on the steps of the Wisconsin Capitol 20 feet from where the Solidarity Sing Along was belting out its daily repertoire of labor, peace, and social justice anthems. I had recently made contact with Sen. Vinehout's campaign manager to see if I might be able to do a brief interview with the candidate at some point. We hadn't finalized anything, but when I arrived at the Sing Along today, there was Sen. Vinehout answering questions from "real" reporters. I stuck around to eavesdrop on her answers and when she finished, I stuck my hand out and introduced myself. "I write as Giles Goat Boy on Daily Kos. A friend of mine contacted your campaign about maybe doing an interview..."
Her eyes lit up. "Oh, yes! Thank you so much. Can I give you a hug?" she asked. And then she hugged me. What's more real than that?
"Well," I thought. "That was easy."
photo courtesy of John Pope
We talked about the Solidarity Sing Along. She attended the Sing Along's one-year anniversary party recently and gave a great testimonial about her spirits being lifted whenever she heard us sing inside the capitol. Hey badscience and noise of rain, were your ears burning about noon-thirty today? She also loves the Overpass Light Brigade, which made an appearance at that party with their lighted JOHN DOE letters.
I mentioned to Sen. Vinehout that it was a quote from a recent article in the Capital Times that had really pushed me in her direction.
"If you don't like money in politics, vote for the candidate with less money. If you don't like negative campaigning, vote for the candidate that talks solutions, not trash," Vinehout says. "And if you don't like sound bites, vote for a candidate that respects your intelligence. And if you don't like politics as usual, vote for the unusual."
Then she had to excuse herself because in addition to the interviews, she was there to present the Solidarity Sing Along participants with a plaque. It was inscribed with the adjournment dedication she delivered on the last day of the legislative session a couple weeks ago. Here she is presenting that plaque today:
There are four Democrats running in the recall primary. All of them are high quality candidates. The winner of the Democratic primary for Governor will get my vote in the general election. I sure hope that winner is Kathleen Vinehout and I am proud to endorse her. She's smart, funny, and enthusiastic. She knows the issues inside out and she knows how they effects they have on real people. I think she even reads the Senate bills before they come up for a vote. And she was the president of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association in Buffalo County! What's more Wisconsin than that?
If you want more information about Kathleen Vinehout or want to get involved in her campaign, you can visit her campaign website. If you want to donate via ActBlue, click on this cow...