Noahvose: Nea'ese


Wisconsin, USA
February 21
History Teacher
A Great Plains guy living in the Great Northwoods and feeling Claustrophobic.-- Masters in Anthropology (I thought we could use some Indians digging up white people).-- I have an amazing wife and two beautiful boys.-- I teach high school history and at an Alternative School for at-risk youth.-- ...and I have a serious Jelly Belly problem


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APRIL 27, 2011 9:43PM

WI: For the People

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I spent the last two months of my life outside. The unpredictable Wisconsin spring has weathered me. I feel more like a tree than a man. Through the blowing snow and bone-chilling wind my wife, my coworkers and I became fixtures downtown, so that those who wanted to could sign a petition to recall our state senator, Sheila Harsdorf. We also weathered more than snow; We learned how to brush off the terrible things that strangers would yell at us: "Get a life," "Get a f#*king job," or "Get out of our town." I learned a lot about myself during this struggle, and a lot about what it means to stay grounded, confident, and focused on a cause. It's rare that we are given a cause so black and white. When we are, it fills you with such an axious feeling of urgency and responsibility, yet it's strangely peaceful.

So, when we finally were told we had enough signatures, I can't really describe the feeling. It wasn't what I thought. There were moments of peaceful disbelief. But they were quickly followed by another level of anxiety that comes when you realize that now you're truly committed...and so close to something that the outcome could potentially be crushing.

Then, I got a call from one of the people in charge of the recall effort. She told me that we were having one last rally to announce the news. She told me that because my town had been such a leader in the effort, she wanted me to announce the news and the number of signatures to the media (a number I wasn't even told until I got to the rally). This was the culmination of so much hard work and emotional hardship by so many people. I was terrified, but I tried not to sound like it on the phone (my wife could tell...she always can, and always knows how to calm me). I started writing that night, and to my surprise, it just poured out. These were the thoughts I had silently contemplated all of those days outside, holding my sign and talking with people who came to sign. I felt like I had to speak for them and tell their story, too. To me, it was a huge responsibility.

I showed up to the parking lot outside of the government building to find news vans already there and a quickly growing number of invited guests. Shortly, a woman in the bed of a pickup truck gave a brief intro and then introduced me. I lept up into the truck. She held the bullhorn, as I spoke into the microphone:

"Four months ago, I was talking to a coworker saying how I had finally reached a place in my life where I was truly happy. I felt completely rewarded for the job I do with at-risk youth and loved where I worked. That was four months ago.


Then, about three months ago, I heard the news, like all of you, of what the governor was trying to railroad through the Senate and that our senator was going to vote right down the party line. I had some naïve hope that cooler heads and sanity would prevail. And I kept waiting. Then, I watched 100,000s of people descend on Madison to ask, beg, and yell…to be heard. My family was among them. But it didn’t matter. Senator Harsdorf, Governor Walker, and the Republicans never had any intention of listening. They never had any intention of compromising. I knew when I took the bus down to Madison that I would be joining the battlefront. I just didn’t know it would be the bus taking me back home. My wife and I went into the bagel shop near here, where we met several of you for the first time. We took a sheet and spent 2 hours getting 10 signatures. All we kept thinking was how we only had 60 days to do this, and this wasn’t working.


So, my family and I (the well-funded union machine you’ve heard of) spent $83 on some signs and a canopy, borrowed a table and chairs and set up shop in the wind and snow…to give the people of District 10 one more chance to be heard. And the people of our town came to us…over 1,600 of them. The stories I listened to the most were the ones from devoted Republicans who came to sign. The police officer who said he’s voted Republican for 20 years and had driven by our booth for 4 days debating whether or not to stop. He said he finally decided to sign because, “wrong is wrong.” He and the others reminded me that this isn’t about parties…it’s about right and wrong. I even talked to a Tea Partier for about 45 minutes one day (I with my Recall Harsdorf sign and he with his Walker for President sign). Even he agreed with me that cutting veteran’s benefits and tying all public workers’ wages to inflation was wrong. I said to him, “If our Senator could even talk as long as we have, I probably wouldn’t be recalling her.” Because we can find a middle ground if we’re willing to try, which is usually where the truth is found.


Tom Wulf

But from the very start, Senator Harsdorf and Governor Walker have only divided the people of this district and this state to attain their goals, from pitting public against private workers to her false and insulting division between public workers and taxpayers. Last I checked, we’re ALL taxpayers in this state. We are not some outside group that our Senator can keep ignoring and denigrating for her political benefit. I’m proud to be a teacher. I love what I do. But thanks to Senator Harsdorf’s political spin and false divisions, we and our families have been called “parasites,” “free loaders,” and worse. Now, Senator Harsdorf and Governor Walker further insult and ignore half of the population of Wisconsin by inferring that there are two parts to the state, Madison and the rest of Wisconsin. In the State Supreme Court election, the vote in Polk, Burnett, and St. Croix Counties was virtually deadlocked. Her own county voted for Kloppenburg. But Senator Harsdorf still ignores all those voices and keeps hiding behind her talking points. Her divisiveness is not only false, it’s offensive.


Some of our opponents we’ve met over the last 3 months have often asked, “Why are you doing this?” So, let me be very clear tonight why we did this:


We did this because we don’t want Washington politics in Wisconsin. Because we need politicians who are more loyal to the people of their state than their party, who are brave enough to vote their conscience, who can sit down and compromise like my six and three-year-old boys know how to do, and who will come out from behind their talking points and have a REAL discussion with the people. We need someone who won’t just worry about Wisconsin’s budge, but also its spirit.


And you’re right, Senator, we did this because we’re backed by special interests. I’ll tell you ours, if you’ll tell me yours. Ours are the hard workers of this state, who find meaning in serving others and who deserve more than to be demonized by you for political gain. Ours are the poor children you’re going to take off of BadgerCare, our elders who you’ve voted to take off of SeniorCare, the poor who will be removed from Medicaid and Medicare, my alternative students who could lose the one program that gives them a second chance and that often stands between them and a dark future, all the students who will no longer be able to afford college and who won’t be able to support themselves even if they can, and our veterans who you raised money by promising to increase their funding only to turn around and cut it in this bill. Those are our special interests. Who are yours?


And finally we’re doing this because the people in your district are sick of being dismissed and ignored. Senator Harsdorf, you ignored us in Madison, you ignored our thousands of calls, emails, and visits. Well, we stand here tonight with 22,300 signatures, none of which are signed by “outside agitators”. You can’t ignore us anymore. I know you still won’t listen. But, finally, you’re going to have to answer for your choices that put your political games before the lives, careers, and pride of so many people you represent."




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BRAVO!!!!!! Proud to know you!!
Very, very well said!!
Thanks for coming by. The one thing I feel bad about is that I haven't had time to keep up with all of the other posts of my friends here, so I truly appreciate you finding the time to come by mine. When things slow down here, I'm looking forward to catchin gup with all of you.
You've had far greater causes on your plate. A lot of the blogs on here are born of a helplessness that many feel. We have no recourse. Nothing we can do until we can vote will make a difference. YOU and your family are doing something. Reading blogs isn't high on the priority list!
As I posted this, I got an email from a fellow teacher that the Government Accountability Board has tentatively set July 12 as the date to hold ALL recall elections (8 o f them). In their briefing, they mentioned that this has never happened in the history of the United States and is "extraordinary". I wonder what adjective they'll give us if we actually win the elections.
never underestimate the difference you made; you were the spark that lit a bonfire throughtout the whole country; that fire will eventually save us
Your words are very kind. But that fire will only save us if WE ALL light our torches from it. Thanks for coming by.
your speech was one of the proudest moments of my life...hearing the crowd laugh and cheer...watching our boys watch you ~ this is the stuff life is made of ... the best stuff...I can't imagine a better father or partner

It's amazing isn't it? Just four months ago, we couldn't have predicted any of this. Look how much we've learned about ourselves. I couldn't do any of this without you in this fight with me. Thanks for always reminding me to keep my principles in front of my anger.
Good for You!!! I've been and will continue to root for you because what's right is right. You are right. Thank you for refusing to be ignored.
CBerg, Your words are words I said so many times quietly to myself, trying to remind myself of why we're doing this. Thanks for your words.
Your post is an inspiration as we ramp up referendum efforts for our crappy union-busting bill in Ohio. Keep fighting the good fight!
Thanks for this moving, compelling piece.

The one thing we've learned in all of this, thanks to so much support by those in other states and even in other countries, is that WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS. Our thoughts are with you there, too. We also fight for you, just as you do for us. Thanks you.

I always appreciate when you come by. Thank you.
What a kick-ass speech! In your chosen profession, you are contributing immeasurably to your community. I only wish that such principled citizens, like you and Y Herron, could see their way to running for office. We have left those positions to the craven opportunists for far too long.
You, sir, are a true patriot.
You brought tears to my eyes. Yahoooooooo and good for you. Be proud of what you are doing.

It's been a long time. Are you keeping up the good fight? You're going to be really disappointed in me. The Dems in my county asked me to run against our Senator, but after a long weekend and a lot of struggling with it, I declined. Have you ever seen Lawrence of Arabia? He is able to pull off a miracle and unite the Arab tribes against the Ottoman Turks in WWI. But when they take over Damascus in the end and try to set up a governing body, Lawrence realizes that just because he was good at uniting them on the ground didn't mean he would make a good politician. This is the most I've ever been involved, and to be honest, I enjoy the ground work too much to sit in the Capitol.

Thanks...but maybe I just like the fight, and this gave me a worthwile cause :)

I hope those are tears of joy. I'll probably have those same tears if we actually win this war. Right now I feel like those guys in the movies that are in war...they're numb, but when the shooting stops, they break down.
Awesome. You guys are doing important work . . . I'm totally with you in spirit . . .
I'd like to believe that Right can win over Might at least sometimes. I hope this will end up being one of those times. The eyes of the country truly are on Wisconsin.

You give this Arizona teacher the courage to keep on, despite the media scapegoating our profession endures, and the misplaced anger from those with faulty critical thinking skills.
Thanks as always. Your support and words have always been appreciated.

You've been with us from the beginning, including when I read your post to my union meeting. Solidarity
Great Job and thank you for all other Americans who are having to fight conservatives who are trying to kill the unions along with entitlements to the poor. You are what is right about America!
Notice, though, that they say they're against entitlements, but they seem to keep supporting corporate entitlements.
Noah, never would I not be proud of you. It's a tough choice. You probably made the right one for yourself and your family.

As a fellow public servant (if federal) and union official, I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of all of you, for doing what nearly all Americans have either been too apathetic or too afraid to do for themselves: act and be heard to right a wrong.

I'm also glad you posted b/c I've not seen a damn thing anywhere in MSM--including Salon--that follows up on WI's labor woes.

One thing is for sure: once your eyes are open, you can never shut them again--nor should you.
elmso - I always call it looking behind the in Wizard of Oz. Once you look behind the curtain, you can't go back...but you're better for it, because you know the truth. Ignorance may be bliss, but it's still ignorant.
A Salute for you,sir.
(soundtrack here: )

"Forward is our driving spirit, Loyal Voices Ring"

I will direct my relatives in Southern WI to read this. Here you You captured why we say, "Foreward Wisconsin.
Another - Thanks for coming by, your kind words, and for spreading the message. It needs spreading.
this is so gladdening

it has to live on
ume - I'm afraid some battles are forever. We can be glad and take pride as long as we show up on the battlefield
Latest Update: Today, the recall effort against D-Miller called it quits. That means four of the recall efforts against Democrats failed. There's one more out there.
I hope you can hear my applause clear from California! Excellent post, excellent speech.

I hope Sen Harsdorf and Walker are BOTH sweating bullets!
enthusiastically rated.
Shiral, don't worry...we've felt your support and that of so many people nation wide for a while now. Honestly, it helps keep this movement going...that feeling of solidarity that most of us never understood until now. I know that might sound cheesy to many (it would have to me even a few months ago) but they'd understand if they were going through this.
You live in Wisconsin, a bit of "cheese" is understandable. =o)

Here's some from me: You and Y Heron represent the best of America, to me. I'm sure your sons will be very proud of you both when they are grown men. You've shown them that when it truly matters, ordinary people can achieve amazing things.

I salute a pair of great American patriots.
This is getting less and less attention on the national media since the famous call. They are involved in one issue or another and what ever they do cover, like a couple on welfare getting married in England, they obsess over.

Thanks for the update.
Glad to see you're still at it.