The Green County Democrats put up with me at their November meeting earlier this month.
Even though the meeting was right in the middle of the Packer game, a sizable crowd was there not to hear me, I'm afraid, but to celebrate the November elections with some pizza and beer at Monroe's Leisure Lanes.
Chair Phil Franzen said that everyone had "worked their tails off" to get out the vote and deserved a party. Democrat Tony Evers beat Scott Walker in Green County by 54 to 42 percent, Democrat Josh Kaul won the AG vote with 52 percent of the total, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin beat Leah Vukmir by 11 percentage points.
The folks at the meeting had a lot of questions about Donald Trump and wondered why the media doesn't just walk out of his press briefings when he starts calling people names. While on-air commentators and print columnists like me can argue with public officials, reporters aren't supposed to take sides, no matter how difficult that may be. To walk out would amount to taking sides. Trump knows that, so he insults them, knowing they won't insult back.
I concluded my remarks by telling the members how I watched the videos of former President Barack Obama's appearances in Milwaukee just before the Nov. 6 election, where he exhibited civility, intelligence and empathy as he put in good words for Tony Evers and Tammy Baldwin. A complete contrast to Donald Trump's persistent name-calling and outright nastiness.
I explained how I found myself wishing Obama was still our president. How nice it would be to wake up in the morning without being slammed in the face with more of Trump's insults, outright lies and manufactured crises — like Honduran refugees preparing to invade and overtake our country and many people actually believing him.
Hopefully, tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, we'll get a respite from the usual barrage. Since Abe Lincoln officially made the fourth Thursday of November Thanksgiving, we've gathered to give thanks for all we have — whether it's a lot or barely enough — realizing that despite all its flaws we still live in a pretty marvelous country.
Sometimes it tries your soul. The mass killings, the cruelty, the wars, the inequities, and now a president who, as the New Yorker's David Remnick wrote weeks ago, needs a brake "to slow his disintegration of American life and his despoilment of the national spirit."
This year's Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 22 which for many of us old timers was one of the saddest days in our lives, the day that President John F. Kennedy, a hero and a role model for so much of America, was gunned down while riding in a motorcade in downtown Dallas. This year marks the 55th anniversary of that calamity which, in many ways, forever changed our country, if not us individually.
Along came Vietnam, the assassinations of JFK's brother Bobby and the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Then came Watergate and the years of scandal and intrigue that followed. Regardless who was president — Ronald Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton or Obama — the polarization deepened and now we have Trump, who is hell-bent on taking America on a perilous journey.
Perhaps this month's elections are reason to give thanks, signaling that like in other times, the world's greatest experiment in democracy will regain its footing and, indeed, put a brake on the craziness.
We do, after all, have a lot to be thankful for: our families, our health, our opportunities as a free people.
No matter how bleak things appear, we still live in the world's greatest country.
We need to realize, though, that we just have to work harder to make things better.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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