We just had a long and long-overdue heart-to-heart conversation with a dear old friend of ours, conducted through a series a beers on our part and the famously stiff vodka-and-tonics offered at Harry’s Uptown Bar and Grill on his part, and as much as we love the guy it was a rather dreary affair. He’s a hard-working and highly intelligent and rigidly moral yet religiously conflicted fellow with well-informed and carefully thought opinions who reliably votes for the most conservative candidates, and is so far doing an extraordinarily good job of raising a thirteen-year-old son to be the sort of man who thinks through life’s most vexing questions humbly and thoughtfully and doesn’t mock handicapped people or refer to the women in his life as “pieces of ass” or embrace the most Smoot-Hawley sort of protectionist claptrap or anthropogenic global warming alarmism or any of that Young Earth creationism, and he didn’t see how any of the current presidential possibilities seemed to work out for the boy.
The only consolation that we could offer that was maybe Wisconsin could provide some good news. As it turns out, the good people of Wisconsin delivered on both sides of the vast political divide.
Our only brief experiences of the state of Wisconsin suggest it’s not a good place to be hitch-hiking through in the winter, despite the residents’ reputation for niceness, but we’ve long admired their political pugnacity. Wisconsin was home to the Progressivism of “Fightin'” Bob La Follette during the progressive era that infiltrated both parties, was at the forefront of the union movement that soon overtook most of the nation’s the public sector, and more lately under the leadership of Republican governor and duly vanquished presidential contender Scott Walker it has been at the forefront of rejection of unionism in general and public sector unionism in particular, and the state is also the home of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, the only Republican left talking frankly about the looming debt and entitlement catastrophe and the go-to bogeyman of the-hated-by-all-sides Republican Establishment, so we expected good result from such a place. Sure enough, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist and unapologetically Judeo-Crhistian Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came out with a telling majority in the Republican primary over self-scribed billionaire and real-estate-and-gambling-and-reality-show-and-piece-of-ass mogul Donald J. Trump, who thought it a shrewd move to criticize the heroic anti-anestablishmentarian Scott Walker for not raising taxes on the days leading to a Republican primary, and the self-described socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had an equally convincing win over that horrible former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State and once-presumed First Woman President Hillary Clinton, who is almost as hard for our feminist friends to explain to their promising young daughters. The cheeseheads on both sides of Wisconsin’s vast political divides had at least offered up a starkly ideological choice between people who at least seem to believe what they’re saying, and we’ll still take our chances on that dicey play.
The next rounds of these intriguingly close races are played in the populous northeastern states, where Clinton and Sanders are presumed to have the advantages, which confirms our stereotypical prairie assumptions about that region, but at it should be clear that at least no one is inevitable, and our friend and we agree that the names on the tickets might well be someone not named Trump or Cruz or Clinton or Sanders, and that it might even be the least worst outcome. That’s how it looks from Harry’s Uptown Bar and Grill in the heart of America, at least, and we’re holding out hope that our friend’s promising young son turns out to be a great man.
— Bud Norman