Sunday, December 4, 2011

Respect Your Elders!

On the first day of the recall, even as Scott Walker's neighbors were hosting a signature gathering rally, I stopped by my father's home on the way home from work. He made comment of the rally, which he saw on the news, pointing out that you know that Walker has to be a real asshole to have his neighbors publicly want him out of office like that.  He predicted that their next block party could be real interesting.

Even though my dad is ultra-conservative (no, we don''t discuss politics much), I didn't expect this from him.  I asked him if he would sign a petition if I got one to him.  He said that he most certainly would. He said that "A conservative tyrant is no better than a liberal one."

Now, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't really planning on circulating any petitions. But when my dad said he'd sign, I dashed off to get copies of the petitions and a couple of clipboards and dashed back.  I don't think I shall ever forget the moment when he signed both of the petitions.

Lately, I've also been noticing a lot of comments on Twitter and Facebook echoing people having similar experiences with their parents and grandparents.

This should not really surprise anyone, even though it does.

Walker has been waging a war on the elderly as much as anyone else since taking office.

One of his first political appointees was Dennis Smith, whose claim to Wisconsin fame was trying to kill the very popular SeniorCare while working as the Medicaid head honcho under George Walker Bush.  Walker has also already cut SeniorCare in order to remedy his phony budget crisis which he claimed to have gotten from Jim Doyle, even though no crisis ever existed until he started giving away tax money to campaign donors.

Walker also tried to force our elders off of SeniorCare and into the much more expensive Medicare Part D, which Bush created as a gift to Big Insurance.  Without doubt, Walker was probably hoping to tap into some of those big-time donors by doing this.

While Walker was stopped from finishing this particular attack on the elderly, he still has yet to apply for a waiver from the federal government to have this very popular and wildly successful program extended as it has been so many times before.

But SeniorCare is not the only avenue of attack by Walker on our seniors.  He has raised taxes on many of them by gutting the Homestead Tax Credit, which many elderly people take advantage of.  And they are also subject to the more than $111 million in higher fees.

And as if this wasn't enough, Walker has installed a poll tax, which has affected and angered many seniors:
"I don't think it's an isolated situation," said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which is suing the state over the law. "We're hearing about cases from all around the state. Often they are older people who have been voting (their whole lives). All of a sudden they're not going to be able to vote, and that's really terrible."

A 2005 study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Employment and Training Institute found an estimated 177,399 Wisconsin residents 65 and older do not have a driver's license or state photo ID -- 23 percent of that population. The study estimated that another 98,247 residents ages 35 through 64 lack IDs. Disparities were especially pronounced among racial minorities.

State Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, whose office has worked with Frank, said she has been visiting senior centers and assisted living facilities to discuss the impact of the law -- and has found many seniors are angry about what they find to be confusing changes.

"These people are proud of their history of voting," Seidel said. "The overwhelming reaction has been that (the new requirements) are totally unnecessary."
Rather a comprehensive, multi-prong attack on our elderly, isn't it?

But I have a feeling these assaults aren't the primary motivating factor for the elderly to line up with hundreds of thousands of other Wisconsinites to say that Walker has to go.

You see, even if they are being put upon in so many sundry and amoral ways, that might not be enough to motivate a lot of people. But Walker did the one thing that would motivate almost anyone.

He attacked their families.

The teachers, social workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, highway workers, foresters, correction officers, and anyone else who worked in the public sector have either been laid off or have had their pay cut by thousands of dollars. And all of these people are someone's daughter, son, grandchild, nephew or niece. Likewise, when Walker attacked the schools, the ones being hurt the most were the children, who are the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of our elderly.

And if there is one truth about people, it is that there is no force in nature as fierce as a parent protecting their own.

And by the way, it works the other way around. Most of us will not abide attacks on our parents and grandparents either.

It's no wonder the signatures are coming in one every three and a half seconds.


  1. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

    Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.


  2. Good article, Capper. You should forward it to State Rep. Jim Ott.

  3. I do think older people also pay a lot of attention to the news, especially the retired people. This particular brand of conservatism doesn't ring true and I think people are recognizing that. I am glad that your dad signed. My own dad was a conservative also, I lean more to the left than he did, but, I like to think that if he were alive he would be able to see through all this. It is pretty blatant and I don't understand what is conservative about demonizing school teachers and others who try to help the country out.