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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After Betrayals In Janesville, It's Time For Reformation

Regardless of the outcomes from the election of 2012, there can be no doubt that the people of Janesville and Rock County have suffered through a series of betrayals and are living a new reality that differs from the changes expected for the rest of the state and the country.

For more than a decade, area voters have been sleepwalking to the polls under the influence of the kool-aid delivered by the local right-wing Gazette media monopoly. I think my side, if I may call them that, and folks wanting the hard truth and unfiltered information, are past an informational firewall and finally on the way to a social re-alignment that could be and should be fresh and exciting. For the past several months, thanks in large part to media outsiders, we have identified and isolated a problem that some thought did not exist. The next step involves not just putting those betrayals behind us, but adjusting to those new realities to create a new paradigm. Simply saying forward won't be enough.

So, let me explain what I'm referring to here. When I began blogging in July of 2006 by drawing the partisan outlines of our local newspaper's agenda, its affiliates and the local economic development organization, Forward Janesville, all I got back from their supporters were swarmy denials or personal attacks. Some suggested that everyone should just ignore the guy at Rock Netroots and he'll eventually go away. I've held my pen back a few times with folks who identified themselves as union supporters or democrats who were defending the Gazette, Forward Janesville or Paul Ryan. They'd say, "we don't vote for the party, but only the best person for the job" or "Forward Janesville isn't as partisan as you think and only a partisan would think they are" or "we're professionals at the Gazette, we leave our politics at the door." No kidding.

I'll also never forget the time about two years ago I saw a man dressed in firefighter labeled casuals speak out at a small protest here in Janesville and defend Paul Ryan as a supporter of unions. That's right, he claimed Ryan supports unions. The small crowd became quiet, possibly out of respect for the man's public service, and did not challenge his statements. That event however told me that despite the internet, social media, my little blog or the efforts from local groups like the Rock County Progressives, there was still a severe information gap that must somehow be overcome. Remember, although Janesville was considered a union town, they (we) always still voted for Paul Ryan - until now. Before, I never ever could understand why.

Thankfully, that's all changed and I do credit both the national media spotlight during Ryan's VP candidacy and the documentary "As Goes Janesville," for shedding light on the dark omissions of truth that still prevails under our current local informational sources. The fact is that for years, the Rock County population has been fed a different story. Once folks started hearing Paul Ryan and officials from the FJ affiliate Rock County 5.0 talk frankly and ungazetted in their own words, there had to be a deep sense of betrayal felt throughout the local community. Sort of a triple-play of betrayal that the national audience could not or did not experience or understand.

None of this surprised me because it only confirmed what I have been writing here all along and this is no time to gloat because ironically, for our community, this is still a severe loss. Why is this a loss you might ask? Afterall, Barack Obama, Tammy Baldwin and local favorite Deb Kolste won their elections and Ryan was finally rejected in his own backyard. For one, I think because so many people had so much trust in the Janesville Gazette to deliver the straight stories about Paul Ryan and the people running our local economic development groups. Many folks gave years of their lives to defend their causes and support their efforts only to now feel tricked and used. It becomes like the shocking discovery after the death of a close friend that he was actually one of your bitter enemies. This loss I'm trying to describe isn't about losing Paul Ryan or elections, it's about the void created by betrayal when trust is gone.

So yes, President Obama, Baldwin and Kolste winning their elections is something to celebrate since they are better aligned with our local identity and aspirations. Knowing finally who Paul Ryan really is, is a good thing too, but again the national audience doesn't own the same sense of betrayal we feel. Yet, the people of Janesville and Rock County still have to contend with two-faced establishment organizations who are not only in complete denial but operate a socio-political agenda that runs counter to the community at-large. That's not an entirely bad thing because in order to move forward we do need alternative ideas and we're all in this together, but the real problem is they are out to defeat us by way of disinformation and through lobbied legislation. They are organized to develop solutions with zero sum outcomes or even some shrinkage. Where they believe gains can only come after losses or at somebody else's expense. We now know this to be true. That is the new discovery.

However, we would be fools to tolerate the intolerant. I'm not saying these folks need to be just like us. Imagine how boring that would be? I'm saying these folks should be working with us and not turning back the clock to defeat us for their own gains. That's where it stands right now and to be honest, they're not listening or they just don't care what we think.

We should want the unfettered truth from our local media and not paid commercials or political propaganda masquerading as news. We should feel that when we buy a subscription or an ad from a newspaper, or submit a letter, blog post or column, that we are supporting a local business in a mutual quest for progress and not a political institution that is purposed for our defeat. In that case, we shouldn't help them make their product more attractive and profitable with our creativity, content or purchases. It's simply not in the community's best interests.

In my view, this is not the time to go-along-to-get-along in Janesville but a time for all those feeling betrayed to reflect upon their loss and re-energize to move forward. Turn it into a positive. Create a new mix. Do something - to organize personally and socially in serious consideration for a way to mobilize our community in good will under these awkward circumstances. Few communities are given a window for self-introspection that Janesville has apparently received. We must take advantage of it.

This could be the beginning of a new paradigm. Don't let it slip away.


Mary Erpenbach said...

I'm in. Thanks for writing this.

Anonymous said...

just plain BS as usual from a loon!

Richard Costerisan said...

We must make sure the citizens in Janesville do not get lulled back to sleep by that insidious Rock County repubican political machine and its media lacky the Gazette.

Anonymous said...

Even though I am not in your area of the state, I totally agree with your analyst of Paul Ryan, I could see how he spread his misinformation to his constituents and could not do anything about it. I posted all I could on my FB but unless you were a friend Janesville residents didn't see it. I am glad you keep your blog going/

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