Friday, November 17, 2017

Chris Says "So Long" To Political Heat

This isn’t a Goodbye. It’s just, “see you around.”

When I began Political Heat in 2009, it had been with the idea that writing would be my hobby. I’d submit my thoughts to be considered, have people comment on them maybe a few times a month, and hopefully use the site as a springboard into becoming a trusted voice on the left in the state of Wisconsin.

This year, I embarked on a brand new adventure: I began writing as a profession. Freelance writing, like this blog, had always been a “side gig.” But I had the opportunity to make it my full time job, and in March that’s what I did.

I’ve enjoyed doing it since then, and don’t intend to stop. There have been very few downsides to writing as a career, but chief among them has been the neglect of my home site, Political Heat.

The writing has been on the wall for a few months now, especially since the number of blog posts per month I was making had gone down significantly since I started writing elsewhere. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the site itself, and to put out one last blog post before retiring the site for good.

This doesn’t mean that I’m no longer going to write about state politics. At the end of November, I’m happy to report, I’ll be starting a new project writing for a site that's dedicated to reporting on state issues from around the nation. I’ve been assigned to report on Wisconsin specifically, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

But putting Political Heat to rest is tough. This was the site that helped launch my career as a writer. When applying for side gigs for the past eight years, I’ve used content from this site to demonstrate my writing prowess. And when I was driven to write after incredulous events — when Scott Walker had decided to do something harmful to the state, when legislators insisted that loose gun laws would make us safer, when commentators made bigoted statements about women, people of color, or individuals in the LGBTQ community — this was always a home for my writing.

I liken this move, from one site to another, as analogous to a move from an old house to a new one. I’ve spent a lot of time building this site, promoting it, arranging it, and writing on it. I’ve contributed more than 1,200 blog posts here. I’ve been recognized by local sites like the Cap Times and international ones like the Guardian UK and CBS, have had people reach out to me locally to discuss issues relevant to my posts, have been invited to speak at conferences because of my contribution to citizen journalism, and have made many great blogging friends through my work on this site.

Letting go of Political Heat is the right move at this time. I can dedicate more of my time toward writing projects that will help pay the bills, while at the same time reaching a wider audience, all while still promoting progressive causes in the state and elsewhere. But parting from Political Heat is also a difficult move to make.

I would like add one last thought: if you’re considering starting a blog of your own, even just a little bit, DO IT. Even if it doesn’t take off, even if it’s just a place to hone your writing a little bit, or to vent, or to disseminate your opinion to your friends, even if it's just once a week or once a month, it will become an endeavor that will be beneficial to yourself.

What’s more, the world needs more citizens willing to express their views, and more opinion writers to provide their ideas on how to make their communities better places. Writing and researching the posts at this site have been enjoyable to me. I look forward to continuing that for my next project, which I will announce here soon (look for it in the sidebar in the next week or two).

Lastly, I have many thanks to give. I want to thank my parents, who always encouraged me to never stop learning, and who had a positive comment to give on nearly every post I published. I’d like to thank my brother, too, who did the same, and who gave me his perspectives on the issues whenever he could. I’d like to thank my friends who read this blog, who carried on the conversations offline, even if we sometimes disagreed with some of the finer points. I’d like to thank the Cap Times and WisOpinion for sharing my content elsewhere, bringing my writing to a bigger audience. I’d like to thank the brilliant Journalism and Political Science departments at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I’d like to thank the #wiunion blogging community, who welcomed me in with open arms. I’d like to thank you, the readers, who made this site what it was, who shared its content on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and elsewhere.

And I’d like to thank my wife, who helped me in three major ways: 1) she put up with me writing this blog site in the first place, which sometimes meant me taking a few hours out of the evening to work (and sometimes neglect household chores in the process); 2) she tempered my thoughts when they needed it so that I never wrote angry (well, too angry). She is a tremendous asset as someone I can share my ideas with, and who would give me honest answers on whether I was going too extreme or not; and 3) she always, always told me to keep writing, even when there were weeks when I thought to myself, “no, I shouldn’t do this anymore, what’s the point.” She always picks me up when I'm down on myself as a writer (which all writers do at some point), and she encouraged me to seek out additional projects as time went on. And I want to thank my son for having patience with me during times when I have said, “just five more minutes” to finish a blog post. Thank you both, very much.

Well, that’s it. The show’s over, but the work is never done. Keep fighting for a better Wisconsin. And please, keep reading local journalism.

Thank you,

Chris Walker

P.S. If you’d like to continue to read my thoughts, please follow me on Twitter @thatchriswalker. Please also visit my writing clips site where you can find the various sites I have written over the years, as well as my current projects I’m currently writing for. Oh, and if you have a wedding coming up, I'm an ordained minister! I'd be happy to work with you to help make your wedding day a perfect one (visit my clips site for information on that as well).

Thanks again!

Me, being a nerd

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Meet Candidate Michele Doolan, Running For Governor Of Wisconsin (Interview)

Doolan provides an inspiring vision of citizens campaigning to keep democracy in the hands of the people

The 2018 gubernatorial election season in Wisconsin is fast approaching, and I find myself being inspired by two candidacies.

Mike McCabe is announcing his run later this month as sort of an Independent-Democratic option that will challenge both parties to make change. His candidacy inspires me because it makes me feel as though a second wave of the Progressive Movement could be coming to Wisconsin (and possibly the nation) in the years ahead.

Doolan, via YouTube
But I am also inspired by a second candidacy because it demonstrates that citizens are beginning to rise up, to take back their government out of the controlling hands of corporate interests, and put it right back where it belongs in any democracy: within the care of the people.

Michele Doolan, a Wisconsinite with roots all across the state (currently in Cross Plains), is running for governor with a very limited amount of political experience. As a business owner, she is a member of Dane Buy Local, and serves as part of many other organizations in the area. She is also married to an Iraq War vet, and a mother to three children.

She says she is inspired to run because, looking at what we currently have in office, it was clear that someone like her had to step up.

“I’ve got a different perspective on the standard obstacles people consider when running for government office,” Doolan told me when I reached out to her recently.

So what made her, a political outsider, decide to run? Advice and encouragement from others, who seemed excited about the prospect.

“I asked [close friends] the following question: ‘What if someone who doesn’t have a political agenda, or a political career to worry, about ran against Scott Walker?’” she says. Those individuals “encouraged me to give it a shot.”

It’s by no means an easy task — and requires the help of those who surround you. “Your family needs to be ‘all in,’” Doolan tells me, “because it will absorb you a bit. You also need to keep your focus on the reasons why you’re running for office and never waiver on that.”

Importantly, you must have “clear boundaries for what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do to make it into office,” she says.

On the issues, Doolan explains that, after two terms of Gov. Scott Walker, “it’s hard not to want to try to fix everything all at once.” But the “cost of living versus the average wage earner’s earning is in the forefront of my mind, as well as our collective investment in education,” she tells me.

These have to be some of the first priorities, she explains. “It’s difficult to get people excited to really consider new ideas when so many people are on the edge of financial disaster on a day to day basis, and have been encouraged by the right to blame each other for it” she says. “But that struggle needs to be addressed beyond say, a $50 tax break on property tax.”

And on the controversial project involving a $3 billion giveaway to Foxconn? “I would like to point out how anti-free market it is to ask the taxpayers to foot the bill for a private, outside company to bring jobs into the area,” she says. “The fact that it’s being rushed makes me wonder what’s really going on there. It screams politics that will benefit a select few rather than contribute to a long term economic goal that benefits all of us.”

Doolan isn’t afraid to speak her mind about President Donald Trump either — unlike Gov. Scott Walker, who refused to condemn the president after surprising comments involving white supremacists and neo-Nazis, describing some of them as "fine people."

On Trump, Doolan says, “How hard was it for Trump to form the sentence, ‘Nazis and bigotry are bad?’”

And on Walker being soft on Trump, she adds, “I think Wisconsin needs a leader that isn’t afraid to stand up to a President that is uncomfortable with protecting America from a White Supremacy movement. Maybe a plucky, small-town mom is just what we need?”

It could be just what this state requires.

Doolan is facing huge obstacles — as a newcomer to statewide elections, she will have just a year to make a name for herself, to travel across the state, and raise funds for her candidacy. Still, she’s running a campaign to become Wisconsin’s next governor as a citizen who saw that there are a lot of things wrong that need correcting.

You can't help but to feel inspired by that kind of sentiment.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Scott Walker Refuses To Condemn Trump — 'Bold Leadership,' Indeed!

Walker's past comments show a willingness to take the low road against political adversaries, cowardice to condemn allies when necessary

Gov. Scott Walker, who briefly ran against Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primary, is taking a weak stand against the comments made by the president regarding violent white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump suggested that “many sides” were to blame for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville. Several examples serve to demonstrate that is not the case — in one instance, an African American was beaten by several white supremacists with pipes.

In the most notable example, Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who was protesting the presence of white nationalist in Charlottesville, was killed by a supremacist who purposefully drove his vehicle into her and more than a dozen others.

Walker spoke out against the bigotry, but stopped short of being critical of the president’s reactions.

“My comment on this is I denounce the bigotry and hatred and I’ll let the president and his team speak for him,” he said last week.

That’s a cop-out that shouldn’t be seen as acceptable to the people of this state.

In fact, a poll out today shows that most Wisconsinites don’t approve of Trump’s conduct in office. Only 34 percent give him passing marks, while 56 percent say they disapprove of his time as president so far.

With numbers like those, Walker should be less afraid of speaking against the president. But again, Walker shows a preference for keeping his thoughts to himself when it could hurt someone in his own party.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” In the case of Walker’s silence on Donald Trump, that time is now. Walker is betraying his constituents by refusing to say anything, critical or even supportive, of the president’s words.

Indeed, his silence on Trump is even more pronounced when you take into consideration how much he criticized the president before him, Barack Obama. One instance sticks out to me in particular — when Walker suggested that he didn’t know if Obama loved America or not.

“You should ask the president [at the time, Barack Obama] what he thinks about America,” Walker said in 2015. “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”

Walker's comments came in response to Rudy Giuliani suggesting at that time that Obama didn't love the country. Walker refused to denounce Giuliani's comments, instead deferring by saying we should ask Obama personally — again, a cop-out that shows he puts his party before country on questions like these.

Walker proved that he was willing to take the low road when he made those comments about Obama. And this past week Walker proved that he’s willing to take the cowardly way out of condemning a president worthy of criticism, solely because Trump happens to be part of the same political party as he is.

That’s hardly bold leadership that Walker frequently claims he possesses.