This Is What Tyranny Looks Like
As I awaited the outcome of last month’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, I had two editorials in mind for the next issue of Mobius. Sadly, this is the editorial I have to write. Starting next year, I think I’ll take a break from writing about Wisconsin politics in this space, but here’s a few final thoughts—for now.
George W. Bush, by definition, was a tyrant, and he ruled like one.
Scott Walker was democratically elected, and he has ruled like a tyrant.
He does not listen to opposing points of view. He makes no attempt to reach consensus on any given issue. His rule is nothing more than naked wielding of power, with no attempt at actual governance. His rule is utterly unchecked tyranny of the majority.
And hence, Walker’s base has not expanded at all. In two elections since he was first elected in 2010, Walker has not moved the needle at all. The same people who voted for him in 2010 were the same people who voted for him in the recall of 2012 and his re-election this year. Generally, governors tend to get re-elected by larger margins than when they were first elected.
Not Walker. And Walker probably does not care.
Walker was elected governor in the post-Citizens United world, a world awash with third-party unaccounted-for money, a world where billionaires can buy elections. And of course, Citizens United came courtesy of a corrupt, activist Supreme Court appointed by Bush.
And it’s important to note that people like the Koch Brothers changed electoral strategy in the wake of Citizens United. Previously, they would give to both Republicans and Democrats in an effort to cover their bases, but following Citizens United they pretty much only donated to right wing candidates, and of course, opted to go the Dark Money route through 501(c)(3) non-profit money-laundering corporations, as well as the Republican Governors Association, which the Koch Brothers used to funnel millions into Wisconsin in 2010.
Now, to be fair, there were other factors at work in 2010. Backlash against Barack Obama aroused the right wing and led to the rise of the Tea Party. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with Obama led to large numbers of voters staying home, which is particularly crucial in a state like Wisconsin where governors are elected in non-presidential-election-year elections.
And to continue to be fair, Walker deserves credit as well. A career politician, Walker knows how to organize and run a campaign. And he knew how to take full advantage of the post Citizens United climate.
Walker ran for governor in 2006 and received little attention from America’s oligarchs. However, in the lead up to the 2010 election, he adopted far-right economic stances in an effort to court the oligarchs. In a stark illustration, in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7v8f8jBrW8) Walker slavishly tells Diane Hendricks, the richest woman in Wisconsin, that he’s going to take on public-sector unions in an effort to “divide and conquer.”
And of course, there’s the infamous phone call with blogger Ian Murphy who punked Walker while pretending to be David Koch.
Walker represents everything that is wrong with politics in America. He is the consummate politician. He is ruthless and amoral. Political calculation rules everything he does. He does not enter a fight unless he is certain of victory. And when he is sure he cannot lose, he will not compromise even the tiniest bit.
And the special interests who elected him? Their interests are not everything to Walker; they are the only thing.
So I guess when I typed the words democratically elected, I had to fight the urge to add quotation marks. As the last four years have shown, big money has corrupted our democracy to an extent that it is hard to argue that our democracy is more than in-name-only.
I also had to fight the temptation to not correct the typo after typing “demoncratically elected.”
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And We Don’t Care
Recently, I attended a benefit for the Madison Circus Space, which featured wonderful performances by local circus artists. As I sat at our wonderful Barrymore Theater, sipping a local craft beer, I reflected on the events of the last month and found myself marveling at the spirit of these performers who created their own space, which they use to perfect their art.
Yes, we are despondent here in Madison, but those wonderful Circus Space performers reminded me that they cannot break our spirit.
I know Walker and his merry men don’t particularly like Madison and don’t particularly like the people who live here. After all, we were right there at the front lines during the Uprising, and when there is another Uprising, we will be right there at the front lines once again. When they decided to mess with us, well, they didn’t know who they were messing with.
Walker and his mindless minions can pass whatever horrifying extremist measures they want, but they can’t change the fact that Madison is full of artists and musicians. They can’t change the fact that it’s a haven for craft beer and slow food and locavorism. They can’t change the fact that Madison is renowned for highly successful alternative institutions.
Walker is rising, but he will fall. And here in Madison, we are leading the way forward while Walker et al are holding onto a past that will not exist much longer.
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A Quarter Century For Mobius
With little fanfare, Mobius celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary with this issue.
Hard to believe it’s been that long since that first Halloween issue came out in 1989.
We’ve come a long way since that first issue that featured three short stories and no poetry. That issue was hand-typed by my friend Charlie Hagerman who, sadly, died a few years ago. I think only about 100 issues were printed. I tried to sell them, but I don’t think hardly any were sold.
And sadly, I don’t even have a copy of that first issue.
But I do remember the first words of my first editorial: “Writing is power.”
The gist of that first editorial is that our society does too good a job silencing us, but in our words we hold our power.
I was inspired by the punk-rock DIY ethic that if you don’t like the bands out there, start your own band. If you don’t like the records being released, start your own label. And when I felt I didn’t like the way the magazines were treating me and my work, I started my own magazine.
I promised an outlet for the unheard music. I like to think that at least in a small way, I’ve succeeded.
Perseverance perhaps has been our greatest success with Mobius. If nothing else, that has allowed us to go from a circulation of 100 to a web-based magazine that reaches the entire planet.
And much thanks to those who helped Mobius over the last quarter-century: Charlie Hagerman, who typeset the first several issues before I learned how to do it myself; Kandis Eliot, who taught me desktop publishing; Elody Samuelson, our first poetry editor; Tom Neale, who succeeded Elody; and Jeannie Bergmann, who succeeded Tom and also serves as webmaster and shepherded Mobius from the 20th to the 21st Century.
And lastly, much thanks to you, the readers, as well as those who send us their work. This is for you.