hearts and minds

November 8, 2008

Ozaukee and Washington County Election Result

The first page article in the Ozaukee News-Graphic on November 6 began by asserting that “… voters in Ozaukee County stayed true to their Republican roots.” Talk about beginning a news report with fallacies – this takes the cake. First, Ozaukee County’s roots, for the first fifty-plus years of our statehood, were deeply and entirely embedded in the Democratic Party. Despite the Republican Party having been founded in Wisconsin, and overwhelmingly the choice of Wisconsinites, before, during, and for many years after the Civil War, Ozaukee County always voted for Democrats to represent it, until WWI. And second, while, some Republican voters did vote the Party-line, certainly not all did, and not nearly as many as did in the recent past. Our local newspaper report of the election could not have been more factually incorrect (while being, of course, quite “politically correct”, as far as the current local ruling party establishment is concerned).

If that opening headline and first sentence wasn’t sufficiently misleading for “news” readers, the sentence following that opening is obviously and wildly false. It is just not possible that “… 75.4 percent of registered voters cast straight-party Republican ballots”, as the newspaper report asserted, when it was 75 percent of registered voters who voted, period. The truth is that only 23 percent of registered voters “cast straight-party Republican ballots”. The third sentence in the article then iced their own preposterous cake by falsely asserting, “That was 3 percent higher than in the 2004 presidential election, despite an unprecedented push from Democratic canvassers.” The uncomfortable truth is that the Democratic candidate for President got 16 percent more votes in Ozaukee County in 2008 than in 2004, and the Republican candidate got 8 percent fewer votes than in 2004. Think twice before you believe what you read in our local newspaper.

The simple unspun truth is that in Ozaukee County, the Democratic candidate for President collected 39 percent of the vote in 2008, in contrast to less than 34 percent in 2004, and the Republican candidate for President did correspondingly poorer in 2008 compared to 2004. The editor, if not the reporter, should have reconsidered saying “despite … Democratic canvassers” in their “news report”. And they should have pointed out that the canvassers were local volunteers.

If the News-Graphic wants to use the word “despite” in their “news report”, it should try using it in this sentence:

Despite the significant increase in population since the 2004 Presidential election, and the greater number of actual voters, the Republican candidate for President this November received 8 percent fewer actual votes in Ozaukee County than did the Republican candidate for President in 2004. Barack Obama, on the other hand, received 16 percent more votes in 2008 than did the Democratic candidate in 2004.”

Would the News-Graphic ascribe that simple truth to “Democratic canvassers”, or to growing public awareness, or to both? Does that simple fact not throw a bit of light on the newspaper’s factually false and biased “news report” spin that “voters in Ozaukee County stayed true to their Republican roots”?

Journalists and newspapers can’t claim to be competent or responsible if they just quote statistics and loaded words and spin provided by politically partisan government officials without doing a little bit of independent thinking or checking before printing them. But the Cedarburg-published News-Graphic, if nothing else, is notoriously following a well-worn path. In September of 1896, for example, the publisher of the Cedarburg News declared arrogantly in print that, “… a gentleman of Mr. McGinley’s political faith (Republican) cannot be elected (to the state senate) from this district.” Looking only in the rear view mirror, it is easy to see why he made such a confident prediction. There had never been a Republican elected to the state senate to represent Ozaukee County. It is a satisfying, fitting footnote to history that the eight senate elections immediately following that bold assertion that a Republican “cannot be elected” were all won by Republican candidates.

In recent Presidential elections prior to 2008, two out of every SIX Ozaukee County votes were cast for the Democratic Party candidate. But in 2008, two out of every FIVE Ozaukee County votes were cast for Barack Obama. That certainly indicates a change – but not the phony “3 percent” change in the other direction implied by the newspaper article, and it doesn’t imply “staying true” to the status quo, either. Then again, it does imply an electorate here that is a tad out of synch with the rest of Wisconsin and the rest of the United States. In that respect, Ozaukee County does remain true to its 19th Century roots, when not a single legislator representing Ozaukee and Washington counties voted to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. (The 13th abolished slavery in the United States after the Civil War.)

There was another significant change in Ozaukee and Washington counties this year. Seven legislative offices representing parts of Ozaukee and Washington counties were actually contested in the general election this year. There were clear choices on the ballot for Wisconsin state Senate district 20, for Wisconsin state Assembly district 58, and for U.S. Congress district 5. But there was no Democrat running in those three races. Those who wished to vote for President and also to vote for one or more challengers to incumbent Republican legislators Sensenbrenner, Grothman, and/or Strachota, could not vote a straight-party ticket. (This insurgent choice for a change would explain a relative increase this year in the ratio of straight Republican tickets cast, compared to straight Democratic tickets. As has been the case in the past, in part of Ozaukee County, most of Washington County, southern Sheboygan County, southeastern Fond du Lac County, and Theresa in Dodge County, the only Democrat running for office was the one running for U.S. President.)

Most residents of Ozaukee and Washington counties had more than one name on the ballot for the offices of U.S. Congress, state Senate, and state Assembly. That is not merely newsworthy. That is a truly historic development here. There were four Democrats (Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, Dr. Rene’ Settle-Robinson, Perry Duman, and Charlene Brady) and three Independents (Robert Raymond, Clyde Winter, and Greg Dombro) giving us a choice for a change in Ozaukee and Washington counties.

(Ironically, the only grassroots candidates challenging the status quo here, who actually worked together and cooperated with each other in challenging the Republican incumbents, were the two Independent candidates running for the state legislature.)

Unfortunately, none of the challengers won their election, although all of them provided an important, substantive, progressive alternative. Interestingly, none of the four non-establishment, local candidates representing change in Ozaukee County received anything close to the percentage of votes that Barack Obama received there. Why that occurred is an important subject for those not well-served or well-represented by the status quo to explore and hopefully to understand.

Robert Raymond (conservative Independent) won 20 percent of the vote in the 5th Congressional District, with 21 percent in Ozaukee County and 17 percent in Washington County.

Clyde Winter (progressive Independent) won 20 percent of the vote in the 20th state Senate district, with 23 percent in Ozaukee County (not including Mequon-Thiensville) and 19 percent in Washington County (not including Hartford, Germantown, etc).

Greg Dombro (progressive Independent) won 17 percent of the vote in the 58th Assembly district of Washington County (West Bend, Jackson, Slinger, Addison, etc).

Perry Duman (progressive Democrat) won 30 percent of the vote in the 60th Assembly district (Port Washington, Cedarburg, Grafton, Saukville, and Town of Trenton).

Dr. Rene’ Settle-Robinson (progressive Democrat) won 42 percent of the vote in the 23rd Assembly district, with 27 percent in Mequon-Thiensville of Ozaukee County.

Dr. Sheldon Wasserman (D) won 49 percent of the vote in the 8th state Senate district, with 38 percent in Mequon-Thiensville of Ozaukee County and 31 percent in Germantown and Richfield of Washington County.

Charlene Brady (D) won 38 percent of the vote in the 24th Assembly district, with 35 percent in Germantown and Richfield of Washington County.

Despite none of the challengers in Ozaukee and Washington counties winning an office this time, it was an exhilarating, gratifying, and useful experience, and it is a source of pride and honor, to have shared a place on this 2008 general election ballot with President-elect Barack Obama.

The day before the election, combat infantry veteran and progressive Independent Greg Dombro, when confronted with expressions of fear and intolerance about Barack Obama, and with questions of who he supported for President, said, “I’m voting for Barack Obama, but I’ll tell you how I feel about this election. No matter who wins, he’s going to have my complete support. America is facing such huge neglected and growing problems, that we cannot afford to be divided by partisan bickering – hating and fearing one another and our own President. America needs to work together for a change.”

Thank you and your family, Greg.
Thanks to all of you who made this election year interesting and hopeful, inciting and insightful, despite the ominous portents and misleading, degrading distractions.
Gung Ho! Wisconsin and America!

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6 Comments »

  1. [...] Ozaukee and Washington County Election Results In recent Presidential elections prior to 2008, two out of every SIX Ozaukee County votes were cast for the Democratic Party candidate. But in 2008, 2 out of every FIVE Ozaukee County votes were cast for Barack Obama. … [...]

    Pingback by Ozaukee and Washington County Election Results — November 8, 2008 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

  2. [...] Ozaukee and Washington County Election Results 75.4 percent of registered voters cast straight-party Republican ballots” when the total vote for the Republican candidate for President in Ozaukee County was 60 percent. The third sentence in the article misleadingly asserted, … [...]

    Pingback by Ozaukee and Washington County Election Results — November 9, 2008 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  3. Yet more reasons why we need to start working to reinstate fusion party voting in Wisconsin, as the Working Families Party has done in New York.

    Ozaukee’s Pickle Vendors who have ‘made it’ in the ‘marketplace’ and bought all of those drywall shanties and covered fertile fields with long driveways have done so on the backs of people who haven’t seen any raises or opportunities come their way for decades. The current illusion of wealth in this country is going to fall very hard in the near future, and I don’t know if I want to be around Ozaukee when it happens. The bigger the delusions, the harder they fall.

    That said, I don’t agree with Greg Dombro on supporting ‘winners’. I think we all need to stick together, yes. I DON’T think it requires any support for a corrupt oligarchy, though. We can just as well ignore them as support them, and our lives will change by what we do with our neighbors, not what we do for the government. I have no support for the thieving, nasty lies of the current administration and its corporate handlers. Until we root out the deceptions and horrors of past presidents (ALL of them), we cannot begin to trust any new one. Behind all of the bloated costs of government are bloated coverups used as leverage on other coverups. It’s time for full disclosure of government paperwork that isn’t directly related to operational integrity of the battlefield. No more hiding interns and Contras behind Executive Priviledge.

    Comment by Dan — November 9, 2008 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  4. Electoral fusion takes different forms, and it has survived being abolished by the two major parties in only ten states (unfortunately, NOT including Wisconsin. I support electoral fusion because it decreases the stranglehold the two-party system has on our government, and distributes political power to the people, where it belongs. I also support abolishing the straight-party-line vote option that is still allowed on only fifteen state’s ballots (including, unfortunately, Wisconsin).

    I strongly encourage people to organize and press for Instant Runoff Voting in states and municipalities that do not already have it. This important reform would shorten the duration of election campaigns, substantially reduce their cost (which is always and ultimately borne by the people), and eliminate the need for (and cost of) confusing and inconsistent primary elections. More importantly, it would free citizens from the current pragmatic necessity of voting only for the least undesirable of the two candidates chosen for us by the two ruling parties. IRV is the most important of the three excellent reforms mentioned and linked to above.

    I don’t endorse “corrupt oligarchies”, and neither does Greg. A case can be made that the way that government in the USA has evolved is beyond reform and redemption by the people. If that is true, the path to the future leads only to slavery and/or revolution. (I do not think that particular path leads to even the possibility of a nation or world of simple, rural, pastoral, peaceful, tribal-like communities of self-sufficient artisans and agriculturalists.) I think we yet have other options, and it is a dangerous, selfish delusion, and a self-fulfilling prophecy, to relinquish and abandon the dream of representative democracy as imperfectly embodied in our Constitution, and made manifest in our flawed laws and institutions. For those of us who still believe in the promise of the American dream, we now must rise above and beyond the awful, divisive, scornful polarization resulting from the two-party system (which is not mandated by our Constitution), and resulting from a hateful, spiteful, fearful portion of our own character which is nurtured by this system.

    None of us is perfect. You and I are not omniscient. None of our closest friends and family, and none of those with whom we live and work every day is perfect. Yet we can and do work together, develop bonds across barriers, and act with mutual respect. Now, more than ever, we need to extend and strengthen that better portion of our selves, and stop demonizing those we think beneath us, and those we don’t or won’t meet face to face.

    Greg’s is not a philosophy of “supporting winners”. Quite to the contrary. Greg is a proven freedom fighter who ran a hard campaign as an Independent against an “unbeatable” upholder of the status quo. Even the other major party could or would not field a person presenting contrasting information and an alternative point of view for the people here to consider and learn from. If you want to criticize something I say, Dan, criticize me, not someone who you do not know and who I mention with honor in my blog.

    Our US government is the only institution that can and should represent all the people of the USA. It will never do that perfectly, just as you and I will never be perfect in this life, and just as we will never agree on everything. But if our government is not acting of, by, and for the people, it is we, the people, that must make it do so. So I disagree with your implication that our lives are not affected by “what we do for the government”, and that our U.S. government is so bad that it is irrelevant and worthy only of our disdain and disregard. The more people who share that self-centered, short-sighted policy that would surrender our country to the corporations and the oligarchs, the sooner true democracy shall founder.

    The idea that we have to “root out” the problems of the past (“ALL of them!) before we can “trust” our new President (and deal constructively with the present, and prepare the way to the future) is an impossible Gorgon’s knot and a crippling burden that would drive any ship on the shoals and sink it.

    That said, you’ll see that my columns (and my recent electoral campaign) are replete with historic reminders and lessons pertinent to the current struggle, and I agree with you on the importance of that, as well as on much more comprehensive disclosure by government officials.

    Comment by clyde winter — November 10, 2008 @ 5:08 am | Reply

  5. Your rebuttal is much too long for what I said. I did not mean to insult Greg, only to criticize the idea that winners deserve support simply because they are winners. If the shoe doesn’t fit, it isn’t yours.

    You are much too accepting of the representative democracy which we have as the example of an actual representative democracy. As we saw in the previous two elections, that is an illusion when A: there is little difference in corporate power between parties, and B: the closeness of a race can be overridden by a few well placed bureaucrats and C: B is ignored by the media and the people.
    We get the government we deserve.

    I didn’t say our lives aren’t affected by what we do for the government. Well, maybe I did, but what I meant was that the things we do every day ARE the things we do for the government and the corporations. Every dollar we make at a corporation is worth at least 2 to Them or they wouldn’t hire us. There are only two classes of people in the U.S.: those who have to work to continue eating and those who don’t. There is no “middle” class which gets all of the press coverage and sales pitches; only a bunch of slaves who THINK they are in a special class of honor where they aren’t as bad off as the “poor”. As of Reagan, we are all poor but too dumb to realize our lives are already spent by the banks and government. There is no real economy without a future potential to do productive work over and above what we consume in resources.

    We have to work together to build a new world from the bottom up, and it cannot include any of the same consumptive practices which got us to this point. If the government gets smart enough to realize this, I will support them. As long as they keep talking about bailouts and stimulus packages for a failed System of systems, we are freakin’ doomed to watch the house of cards burst into flames around us as the oceans rise and the lakes and icecaps evaporate.

    Our handlers have never learned that if the chains around our necks are too heavy, the slaves can’t make it across the river to the fields.

    I may be selfish, but I have no delusions about it. I know the importance of the individual to the society, and that it is supposed to be a quid-pro-quo relationship. Until you understand truly what people are for, you will not be able to resolve any of the paradoxes you come up against. My words may not be adequate to explain everything in a soundbite, but I have no paradoxes at this point. I do know the Answers, and they aren’t religious ones. That doesn’t mean I have Blind Faith in my awareness, but that I understand how to find the truth in the situation. Compromise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when the premise is flawed.

    There is no place to ‘rise up’ to. Hope is what got the Jews to ride the trains to gas chambers. We need reality first, and hope based on that. When we reach out to our neighbors, it is based on some minimum knowledge of who they are, where they live, and perhaps that our other neighbor has our back. We can only work within our monkeysphere. Extending our connections too much only yields actions taken based on blind faith, which is where evil comes from.

    Repeat after me: “We went to war in Iraq to stabilize the price of oil.” “The Islamic fundamentalist movement was created when revolutionaries in Iran were forced into mosques by the oppression of U.S.-trained secret police of the Shah.” “The U.S. government imported Nazi war criminals to North and South America for 30 years after WWII under Operation Paperclip.”

    There are issues that need to be resolved before this country can “go on” to a better world. The fears about security are mostly of our own making in order to support the military-industrial complex. We can afford neither the fears nor the ignorance any longer.

    Until we accept and admit that we aren’t always the “good guys”, then we will not be respected by the world; only feared until our Empire falls.

    Comment by Dan — November 10, 2008 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

  6. Well said.

    Comment by clydewinter — November 11, 2008 @ 1:43 am | Reply


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