By all accounts, Lori Compas exceeded expectations at Wednesday night’s debate with Senator Scott Fitzgerald. She had the support of roughly 3/4 of the crowd packed into the Jefferson High School auditorium, and she more than held her own. “I think it went amazingly well,” said Compas’ husband aka The Mastermind. But despite Lori Compas’ success, I left the auditorium troubled and more worried about the state of our state than ever before.
“I’ve never seen anything like this.” That was the most common sentiment echoed at the debate. The energy in the packed auditorium was palpable and many people were unable to control their emotions, despite the moderator’s numerous pleas to “respect the candidates.” All traces of “Wisconsin nice” disintegrated once the debate began.
I joked with friends that the free cookies provided beforehand probably should have been laced with some kind of sedative, but it really wasn’t a laughing matter. The fact that supporters of both candidates were unable to even listen to the candidates speak without yelling, hissing or clapping is troublesome.
It’s proof that the “divide and conquer” strategy has worked.
When Compas talked about the devastation created by job loss, a Fitzgerald supporter yelled out, “You want a handkerchief?!” The insensitivity of that remark caused Compas’ supporters to gasp and hiss and the situation devolved further.
At one point in the evening, a man was escorted out of the auditorium by a police officer because he was so upset.
A Fitzgerald supporter even yelled “Liar!” when Compas was explaining that there were divisions created by the Walker and Fitzgerald administration that needed to be bridged (which kind of proved Compas’ point).
But it was almost painful to witness the behavior from both Fitzgerald and Compas supporters.
Really, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Yes, lives have been forever altered because of political decisions made by the Walker and Fitzgerald administration. Yes, people have a right to be angry.
But we can take action to rectify the situation by voting Scott Fitzgerald out and Lori Compas in. That won’t solve the problem, it’s going to take much more than that, but it’s a start.
We are not doomed to forever be divided. We are not victims. We cannot control others, but we do have a choice over how we treat each other.
So, please, let’s follow Lori Compas’ lead and start treating one another with respect, regardless of political viewpoints, before “Wisconsin nice” is gone forever.
Video of the debate here.