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Plainfield Tri-County High School Choir Got Lesson In Democracy At Wisconsin State Capitol

December 5, 2018

I should state at the outset I am a graduate of Tri-County High School in Plainfield, Wisconsin.  For many rural schools in the state it is a thrill indeed to have a reason to travel to Madison, and even more so when the trip involves the Wisconsin State Capitol.  So I can totally grasp the joy of the school choir being selected to sing at the Capitol tree-lightning ceremony on Tuesday.   After all, this year’s statehouse tree was from Plainfield. 

While holiday festiveness in the rotunda had every right to be front and center there was something more pressing taking place under the statehouse dome.  Republican lawmakers were in preparation to vote on lame-duck session measures to weaken powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.  One of the most preposterous and dangerous examples yet of a power grab in Wisconsin was taking place just a short distance from the Christmas tree.

The grand design of government presented in civics books–which these students in the choir have spent time learning–was being turned on its head just a short distance from where they stood to sing.  A deliberate process designed to respect voters wishes was being turned upside down, and inside out.  Republicans, in the mid-terms, had lost all five statewide elected offices, a U.S. Senate seat, and in legislative offices were swamped when Democratic votes totaled 190,000 more that the Republicans.  The GOP, with the partisan maps they designed, still controlled the assembly with 63/99 seats. But what they had not been able to win in elections was what they had every intention of stealing in the session.

Needless to say there were many very concerned citizens at the capitol who were mindful that the future of our state is in play.  So when Scott Walker took to the podium to address the tree-lighting crowd he was met with what should have been no surprise to anyone.  He was faced with boos and very loud howls of protest.  As a result the high school choir singing Christmas carols was largely drowned out.  A large group of protesters were stationed outside the Senate chamber loudly singing their own music–anti-Walker tunes.

It might seem unfair to some that the students were sidelined by the actions of other citizens who were trying to stop anti-democratic actions in the legislature.  But that is the frothy side of our political process in action.  One does not often get to see such a thing among the corn rows of Waushara County.  Needless to say the dynamics at play must have made for some interesting insights for these young people.

I sincerely believe that the lesson for taking a stand, and raising a voice for the future of the state will well serve these students.  To think that the rural place they call home will not be undermined by the slick moves and partisan machinations of the GOP in this lame-duck session is folly.  The school they now attend, and the future education many will seek are all tied to the bizarre and corrupt behavior of the ones being yelled at Tuesday.

The bus trip may not have developed as the students had thought, but they are wiser and more schooled today in democracy as a result of being at the Wisconsin Capitol.

  1. Greg G permalink
    December 6, 2018 3:15 PM

    I agree with the premise of the article that this was a valuable lesson for everyone, but it marginally advances Walker’s fictional account that the choir was “drowned out” by protesters. That’s not what I observed when I was there, and it’s not what appears on the many Youtube videos of the ceremony, including the one that Walker himself tweeted out.

    There were a large number of people in the rotunda observing the tree lighting ceremony. Many of them probably would not have been there if not for the power grab bills being debated in the legislature. A lot of people had signs criticizing Walker, Vos and the bills but they did not disrupt the ceremony. They booed Walker when he was introduced for about 10 seconds while others applauded or cheered Walker. They never booed the choir or disrupted the program. They watched and listened and held their signs. Another small group gathered outside the Senate chambers, one floor up, in the opposite wing of the building from the choir. They sang anti-Walker and anti-Vos songs.

    Depending on where one was in the rotunda, one could hear some of the other singing, but it didn’t drown out the choir. From Walker’s location, he could easily hear and focus on the choir as the videos document. As he has for eight years, Walker lied about what happened, and this time he shamelessly tried to use the kids to shield himself from legitimate criticism. For him to cry about people being distracted from the students is laughable. Usually the tree lighting ceremony is very sparsely attended. Walker himself has skipped most of them during his term, opting for photo ops at 8 am with almost nobody in the building, then sending other officials in his place for the ceremony at noon. The lesson to be learned is don’t try to hide behind public school students by scheduling your coup during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and expecting that citizens won’t notice what you’re doing. We noticed your lame duck power grab and we are mad as hell about it.

  2. December 6, 2018 11:48 AM

    Mary Bye,

    You will see I did not address him either. We agree.

  3. December 6, 2018 11:44 AM

    Oh, Gregory,

    It is laughable for you to offer any regard for the “forefathers”, the Founding Fathers. It is clear from your comments on this blog you would have been an opponent to a strong central government as the framers intended, and then designed. You would have sheltered in place with the Articles of Confederation and carped on the sidelines about the woes of the elitists who read and thought about the larger needs of the new country.

    Your lack of understanding or regard for the Founders is made clear due to your lusty approval of the power grab in the statehouse this week. After all the Framers focused on principles, such as the need in a democracy for people to engage in free and robust discourse. That was not allowed to happen in the truncated time frame for a wide arrange of bills that have profound impact on the state and how government works.

    So please refrain from any attempt on your part to link arms with the Framers. It makes your comment just plain silly.

  4. Mark E Bye permalink
    December 6, 2018 11:13 AM

    I’m not even going to dignify Mark Phillips’ comment with a response.

  5. Gregory permalink
    December 6, 2018 8:19 AM

    Again the socialist left and Democrats have total disregard for the US Constitution. The first amendment and in our state amendments state people have the right to peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. So again the left shows their ignorance of the laws. Instead they keep making excuses for acting like bullies. That is what you really showed the kids choir. Plus what the republicans are doing is well within the right of our state constitution learn it maybe you’ll learn how to get somewhere. Plus what about our forefathers whom had the foresight to put in the amendments to protest peaceably. To bad one side doesn’t get it or understand that. All they do is keep aiding the bully culture in this country. The real civic lesson is the lack of respect the left has for the right and the lack of interest in finding common ground and working together. And how come you always pick on defenseless children you have yet to develop their own sense of politics as you force your beliefs on innocents and instead of letting them develop.

  6. Mark Phillips permalink
    December 5, 2018 7:41 AM

    Very sad that these people could not put aside their aggression for thirty minutes and allow the students to have their day at the Capitol. the protesters have plenty of time to sing their lame songs chant their lame chants and act like fools 364 days of the year but nope they are too self-absorbed self rightous and lets be honest too petty to act like adults for 30 minutes it’s what we in Wisconsin have come to expect from Democrats liberals and socialist in this state

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