Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where were the TEA Party folks?

Today, my state senator, Joe Leibham, held a listening session. He provided a small booklet(nothing fancy-just the facts-black and white as though it came from your home printer) about legislative changes that had been approved, changes that were under discussion and legislation he had worked on.

Some of the changes that have been approved, as those who have been reading this blog know, are outrageously abusive of the citizens of WI. Some of the more outrageous policy items that were dropped from the budget, are being revisited by our legislators. Things like driver's cards for illegal aliens and lowering the liability percentage from 51% to 1%. ( I had thought both of those items were safely off the table and am quite incensed to find that it is not so. That air in Madison I guess.)

Now I have some problems with Mr. Leibham, philosophically, but I will grant that he has been a strong fiscal conservative in his votes and, in general shows a modicum of common sense, of which I approve. I will address my reservations with him in another post, but I wanted to address something else before I do that and before I post videos of bits of his listening session.

We have a participatory form of government folks. That means we participate. When our legislators do their best to let us know what is going on in the halls of the legislature, we should lend them an ear. When they make themselves available to hear our opinions and concerns, we should equally, politely and respectfully share our opinions and concerns. Now I've attended two TEA Parties. One in Madison and one in Sheboygan. Those gatherings were very well attended and there were many concerns spoken of, at the national, state and local levels. Everyone was enthusiastic and wanting things to be changed, (or left alone in certain areas-change for the sake of change is not a reasonable philosophy). One hopes I might be forgiven for worrying that I might not find a seat at this listening session as I was running a little late. I had been to a few of these before and expected, after such rousing displays of patriotism, that this would be packed with concerned citizens. (Goodness knows we have enough with this legislature to be concerned about.)

When my son and I walked into the room, I was immediately apprised of the fact that I need not have worried. It was a relatively small room and there were more open seats than full. There were, perhaps, 15 people in attendance. They were mostly people my age and older. My son was the youngest person in the room and, with the exception of my son, I don't think (I hope not to offend anyone, here) there were any attendees under the age of 30.

It is fine and dandy to have a rousing rally that brings folks out to show our sentiments, but if we don't follow up by attending and requesting such sessions with our legislators, what's the point? We have effectively silenced ourselves. Sure we can send e-mails and phone calls, but too often those are only done when we are irate or bothered about something that affects us personally. (And I believe we can expect a lot more of that in the very near future here in WI.)

If we leave our legislators guessing what we think or want, then we can hardly blame them for inconsistencies in their votes or for voting however they see fit, or, (in the case of those who may have no principles of their own,) according to whatever activist last had their ear. I know I can't attend all of these sessions and I don't expect anyone else to do so either, but there should certainly be more folks at such sessions than I have seen when there isn't something urgent or outrageous under discussion. We not only have the right to participate in this process, we have a duty. If we are not going to participate, then maybe we should be remembering that when we point our finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at us.

(My apologies to Mr. Leibham for the original misspelling-it has been corrected.)

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. " ~Gal 2:11


Dr.D said...

Where was this session held, Mom? Was it in Madison, or was it in your local community? That would make a difference, I think.

Terry Morris said...

Well, not knowing any of the details of how this session was organized, how people were notified, how much notice was given and so forth and so on, I'm reticent to make any blind accusations or to criticize anyone for not being in attendance. But you're certainly right that people need to be more involved and let their legislators know what they expect of them.

Call Me Mom said...

Terry and Dr. D. ,
Mr. Leibham is fairly good at notifying the public.(Which is one of the things I appreciate about him-philisophical differences aside.) He has an e-newsletter that he sends out regularly which listed the three sites around his district and the times for these listening sessions.

He has a column in the local newspaper and put a notification in the larger area paper as well.
The sites were located in three different counties within Mr. Leibham's legislative district. The others may have been better attended than the one I attended, which was in Sheboygan.

His weekly update was sent on the 22nd and the announcements were running in the paper all last week. His web-site posted the date of the listening sessions on the 15th. His column, his newsletter and his web-page all contained possible points of discussion/public interest.

I don't know why there weren't more people there, if only to complain about the increased costs of their auto insurance.(Which will be nothing compared to what it may become if that liability change is approved.)

DR said...

Love the post. I have noticed the same thing at listening sessions I attended of his; very few people and I think I was the only one under 40.

I also believe I know what the differences you have with him are; I have the same ones. He is definitely not a Republic man. However, he is honest to a fault, very outgoing, and you are absolutely right, he has constant communication with the voters he serves.

I volunteer for him though, so I am a little biased. To be honest with you, I think he is the only true statesman we have in our area of Wisconsin.

Call Me Mom said...

I don't think you are particularly biased, DR. I think you hit the nail right on the head. He is very honest, in my observations, and very good at reaching out to communicate with his constituents and he is not a "republic man" if I am apprehending the meaning of that term correctly.

He does not hold firm to the idea an individual should be free to do as he/she likes with the freedoms they have and that's a shame. If he "got" that, I would insist that he run to take over the seats of Mr. Fiengold, Mr. Kohl or Mr. Petri.

Without that basic understanding, he would just be so much meat in the D.C. grinder. But I want to post on that separately, so I won't go into more detail here.