I'm relieved the recall election is over. Despite whatever overblown declarations are being made in the national media, on a local level people seem to be trying to deal with their emotions and just move on. There was a lot of understandable disappointment on Facebook right after the polls closed, and a welcome lack of gloating from the other side. (At least among my friends, so this is an admittedly biased sample.)
I am willing to concede that a recall effort under the existing facts was unwarranted. (However, given the opportunity to vote against someone I disagree with was still something I was willing to indulge in.) Such efforts should be saved for clear legal failings on the part of our elected officials. I may not understand why a majority of people in my state approve of this governor and his policies, but I can accept that I must live under them at this time. I will still speak my mind if I think what is happening is wrong, but I accept the results of the election. (I expect the same of people who dislike Obama.)
Now that all is said and done, it's clear to me why things got to the point they did. Passion drove the recall more than legitimacy, and if care had been taken on the other side it could have been avoided. No one wants to be disrespected and treated like the enemy for simply trying to express what they believe. No one wants to feel bullied or cornered.
If you believe that dismantling teachers' unions will improve education, then state your case. I will listen. I may still disagree, but if I think the motives come from a reasonable place and the majority want to go with those assertions, then I will hope for the best. I happen to believe dismantling teachers' unions has nothing to do with education and everything to do with political funding, but I would like to be proven wrong.
However, do not go at this issue by calling teachers lazy, and saying the benefits they worked for are undeserved. This was so hostile and cruel it made people angry. There are bad and lazy people in every profession, but to demonize teachers as a group was uncalled for. I'm originally from Detroit and I know about failing schools. People here don't appreciate just how good the schools in Wisconsin are, and part of that is paying teachers well and giving them a voice. I see firsthand day after day how hard my kids' teachers work, and I'm grateful for all they've done. Calling them glorified babysitters was beyond insulting. No wonder they and the people who appreciate them rose up to defend themselves at the state capitol.
All of us who supported the recall felt attacked on a personal level. That didn't have to happen. It shouldn't happen. I think the governor should have said, "Thank you for agreeing to all of the conditions I asked for that I think will help our state budget, and let's revisit the collective bargaining question next year after seeing how my plan is working." But at no time was there room for compromise or even a show of interest about why people were upset. He should have explained himself better and let people feel heard. That's part of his job.
The week before the recall I got a letter, in error I'm sure, from the Walker campaign asking for money. I found the letter shocking and aggressive. It defined all of his opponents in ugly terms. I was truly horrified that someone who supposedly represents me would be so disrespectful and rude. I wrote him a letter stating as much. I'm not a fan of ad hominem attacks or mischaracterizations of Republicans either. (I don't care about someone's weight or age or hair, I care about their policies.) I'm not saying there weren't people going at it the wrong way on the anti-Walker side, but it's different when an actual elected official who is supposed to be looking out for my interests in his own way sends a letter into my home essentially telling me to shut up. That was uncalled for.
So, I want to take the governor at his word that he wants to heal the state. I want to. He scares me, though. Because I'm still waiting for evidence of compassion in his policies. For instance, trying to kill hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples seems to me to have nothing to do with the economy, or jobs, or taxes, or anything. It's just government intruding where it doesn't belong. I want him to explain that to us, and I want to feel that he's listening when some of us say we think it's unjust. We'll see. I don't think what he's doing is working, but again, I'd like to be wrong. I'm not going to root against my own state and my own neighbors just because I don't like the side the ideas came from. I want us all to succeed.
Okay. That's the end of my reflection on that.
Now, reflecting back yourself, do you remember way back when you read the title of this post I mentioned 80s day? Now we're talking some deep reflection. Back to stirrup pants and leg warmers and preppy shirts and some really big hair.
Aden's class decided for an end of school event to have 80s day. So I had to educate my daughter in the ways of jelly bracelets and neon colors. I made her try on one of my Police concert T-shirts that looked pretty cute on her and she acted like she was going to cry. (The girl was not cut out for an 80s look.) We consulted Google and I showed her the variety of unfortunate styles to choose from. We got it down to a hot pink short skirt with an oversized (because its mine) green shirt with a collar (no Izod alligator, though), clip-on hoop earrings, and a headband with a hot pink flower on it. We also washed her hair and put it in lots of braids to undo in the morning so she will look more like she's had a perm.
I told her, though, that what I wore? Was pretty much what I'm still wearing: T-shirt and jeans. I had one Izod shirt in eighth grade, and one neon pink T-shirt in high school. And I still own my Dream of the Blue Turtles sweatshirt, but never wear it because I want it to look good when it's keeping me warm in the old age home one day. But fingerless lace gloves? Parachute pants? Red jacket with random zippers? Uh, I didn't think those were a good look at the time.
I remember clearly during spirit week at Ferndale High walking through the commons with my best friend, speculating about what a school 80s day might look like in the future. Since we knew the 50s and 60s days we were supposed to be participating in probably didn't reflect those times accurately at all. Poodle skirts may be iconic, but my mom said it's not like everyone had them.
"What will people wear?" we asked each other. "It's all so normal, what's there to latch onto?" We decided neon and anything to do with Michael Jackson, even though that didn't reflect what we had on or what we saw around us.
But boy, looking back on Google with Aden it all flooded over me again--the shoulder pads, the use of color blocking.... There really was a look, wasn't there? And it wasn't good much of the time.
Aden has her outfit ready to go. If she consents to letting me post a picture I'll add it. I did suggest she borrow a Rubik's cube. "That's something people carried around in the 80s," I said, and then Ian kind of smiled and made a throat clearing noise, and I added, "Well, I carried one around." (And I still do. I guess some things are hard to shake from any time.)
UPDATE: My girl did not take a cube, but she did say I could put up her picture. I am stunned every time I see her anymore at how grown up she is. She was a tiny baby in the crook of my arm once. Hard to imagine.