When choosing your candidate for U.S. Senate, ask yourself this: do you want a candidate with a ton of money who can create crafty television ads or a candidate who has a proven track record of fighting for the middle class? Personally, I’d prefer the latter. So would other Waukesha County residents who came out to support Tammy Baldwin (D) when she arrived in downtown Waukesha on Monday afternoon.
Waukesha County residents Keith and Kristine Jamieson were among the twenty of us who joined Tammy Baldwin for lunch on Monday at La Estacion. Kristine said she and her husband have thrown their support behind Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate because Baldwin is “a fighter for the middle class” who is “kind, genuine, and really cares.”
Kristine said she had heard Tammy Baldwin’s personal story about growing up without health insurance and the financial stress it placed on the grandparents who raised her. “There are so many people that have the same kind of story to share,” Kristine told me. Working at a Catholic church which helps those in need find assistance, she sees “a lot of the damage that’s been done by some of the policies that Republicans have put in place” and is concerned.
“It seems as though the politicians don’t care; they don’t care if people have been cut off from health insurance or they’re not eligible for BadgerCare anymore or if they have existing health conditions so they wouldn’t be able to get insurance. Where do (those people) go?”
Indeed, Tammy Baldwin’s own personal experience has shaped her beliefs about the need for affordable access to health care. “I grew up, based on that experience, believing that no parents or grandparents should have to lie awake at night worrying about whether they could get care for a loved one, that it’s wrong; this is a fight for all of our families.”
But health care isn’t the only reason that Waukesha County residents support Baldwin, far from it. Those around the lunch table also expressed concern over the loss of manufacturing jobs that pay a living wage, the exorbitant cost of college tuition, the treatment of women (birth control is an issue in 2012?!), and the general decline of the middle class.
Out on the campaign trail Baldwin said she is met with strikingly similar concerns. Wisconsinites concerned about jobs, education, healthcare, and the economy tell her, “I just want a fair economy where hard work is rewarded fairly.”
People are not looking for a handout, they simply seek a level playing field.
If personal stories aren’t enough to get your attention (or, like Eric Hovde, sob stories aren’t your thing), the statistics tell the same story.
Tammy Baldwin is also keenly aware that Wisconsinites are frustrated by political gamesmanship; they want a representative who will stand up for their needs, who will fight for the middle class. “Folks get into office and do the business of powerful interests and leave their constituents behind.”
But not Baldwin. “I have been fighting throughout my career for working and middle class families to get a fair shake,” she said. She’s proud of her votes; she’s most proud of her vote in her first term in Congress against the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (which put into place sensible measures that said people’s savings could not be gambled with), her vote against the Iraq war (she didn’t see an exit strategy), and her votes on health care. Baldwin did not let powerful interests lobbying on Capitol Hill make her decisions for her; she did what she knew was right.
Baldwin said she is also proud of her work on trade issues. She said she has helped level the playing field in trade “so Wisconsin can get a fair shake.” We’re number one in paper, she explained. “We make things here, we’re good at it, but when other countries cheat and we can’t get a level playing field we can’t compete.” (Why should taxpayer dollars be going overseas?)
Because Baldwin stood up to multinational companies and didn’t allow them to cheat, “We’re now able to fight back. “ Baldwin’s Republican challengers have remained silent on this issue, by the way.
The fact that Tammy Baldwin is not afraid to fight for the middle class and has a proven track record of doing so must be worrisome for her Republican challengers, which may explain why they’re trying to create a caricature of her that is not rooted in reality or fact.
Just as Walker and the Wisconsin GOP did to Tom Barrett (He’ll turn our state into Milwaukee! Poverty and crime will invade your neighborhood!) and national Republicans have tried to do to President Obama (He’s not like us-he’s a Muslim! A Socialist!), the WisGOP has done and will continue to do to Tammy Baldwin. The label “Madison Liberal” will seem mild compared to the attacks that will be unleashed upon Tammy Baldwin in the coming weeks.
Baldwin knows this, and she is prepared. As our lunch came to a close she told us, “My job is to be ready for whomever they nominate…The contrast will be very clear, and it will be very easy to communicate…We have to get every Democrat, every Independent and every fair-minded Republican we can. And that’s what we’re going to do. Together!”
Let’s make it so.