Madison: The Election at Home
The Election at Home
This has to be the first time an entire city has been put on suicide alert. They’ve taken all our belts and ties, although, this being Madison, there are precious few of the latter. It’s not like we haven’t been through it all before—in the aftershock of the Reagan election, cadres of Madisonians holed up at home and sent out for Chinese for weeks. Following the 2000 Bush fiasco, many of us who didn’t have small children stopped going to Florida altogether. In Madison, “War is Not the Answer” signs still dot the natural lawnscape, despite the fact that should the question be “What do you call large scale conflict between armies?” it is. If you can believe the Subaru bumpers, Madison remains a place where a man without a woman is like a fish without a bicycle, and whirled peas are possible to visualize.
If there has to be a morning after, why does it have to be like one of Charlie Sheen’s? The red tsunami surged over our shores, and, hey, we’re an isthmus. This is what happened in Atlantis. Although long-suffering by nature, due to nearly always being on the wrong side of an election, Madisonians are finding it hard to grin and bear on this one. The Mad is back in Mad Town. I saw a Prius cut off a Ford 150 sporting a flag decal, to cries of “Oh, Sun Prairie is in America, then?” Cyclists are coming to a full stop at stop signs in what has to be protest. Zombies continue to shuffle between ramp and state office with Freakfest over. Only the agents darting in and out of American Family Insurance City have a spring in their step. You have to pity Madison school kids, feeling what Polish kids must have felt when the Germans strolled through at Slubice to take control of the Polish Duma.
No sainthood without martyrdom, they say, but the sting of losing our patron saint, Russ Feingold, is still too fresh, even after a numbing campaign which stressed that no one would sit next to him in the Senate cafeteria. There could be a lot of reasons for that. Russ was the quintessential liberal, habitually voting against his own principles on principle. He lost to a guy named Ron Johnson, the third most common name in Wisconsin (the first being John Johnson, and the second, Jim Johnson) whose major qualification was that he rhymed with Wisconsin. That and that everybody thinks they might be related to him. Being a United States Senator can’t be that different from running a plastics factory—both involve extrusion.
As for us, well, we got through the Bushes, Gingrich, Rove, the trickle down and the Contract With/On America, and we’ll get through this. If we know anything in Madison, it’s that nothing ever changes that much thanks to the one law that always applies, Newton’s First, Inertia, endemic to a town where the Axis of Necessary Evil is Legislature/University/Insurance. While there is little joy, there is some comfort on the shores of Lake Mendota.