Late Wednesday alderperson Gary Halverson finally did the right thing for his fellow alders along with the entire community by resigning from the Madison City Council. Since it was reported earlier this month that he had been a member of the highly disreputable and dangerous Oath Keepers for about four months in 2020 there has been growing pressure for his exit from government.
When it was first reported that Halverson had ‘somehow just joined up’ with a right-wing anti-government organization because he was duped by not properly vetting it, alerted many people that his lack of candor was on full display. No one who only has a surface awareness of the news along with the topics of the day could not be aware of the name Oath Keepers or the extremist views they hold and the threats they make on our democracy. As a neighbor remarked when this was talked about on our lawn, what does it tell us about Halverson’s intellect if he really was incapable of knowing just the rudimentary facts about the Oath Keepers? If that is to be believed, then he was way over his head with the wide array of issues being juggled in city budget deliberations!
Halverson is not dumb, however. He is rather quite smart. That is why I was most concerned and truly taken aback when a non-profit operation, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), released a stash of information about the membership of government and military members of the Oath Keepers. With Halverson’s name listed! This information is most beneficial as it allows further insight into the array of tenacles this far-right group has in the nation. As we have known for many years law enforcement has been keeping their antenna tuned to the far-right based on information they gather, along with the illegal behavior they undertake, such as with the Jan. 6th insurrection.
Members of the council and others across this city have not been reticent about calling out Halverson and demanding his resignation. That is because the vileness the Oath Keepers have loudly and openly espoused was not enough to deter a member of our city council from signing up. This blog has been continually speaking about the need to adhere to our democratic principles and foundations. What played out since 2015 when Donald Trump conned the Republican Party has been a clarion call for the rest of us who care about the country. We know anti-government extremists must be kept in check. Furthermore, we know from just watching the headlines since January 2017 why such elements must not hold elected office as it can create a dangerous opportunity for them to use their power to advance their ideology in ways that can dramatically affect their constituents and undermine democracy.
I applaud and thank DDoSecrets for research and data that alert the citizenry to the information that we need so to do our part in helping to secure democracy. We can not take our freedoms for granted. Founding Father John Adams comes to mind for his steely resolve about our nation and his words below make the case about the Halverson matter.
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right…and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.”
Madison had every right to know about the membership of a city alder in the Oath Keepers. Our citizens had every right to demand the resignation of someone who was in an organization that runs counter to the democratic ideals of our nation and the people.