“I stand with those people over there” : Madison Magazine’s “The Walker Effect”

by Maggie Ginsburg-Schultz

I’m tugging out a portion of a much longer, very good article by author Maggie Ginsburg-Schutz with Madison Magazine. In this excerpt, the setting is Rhinelander at Wolff’s Log Cabin Restaurant where an AFP “Stand with Walker” group has pulled up, and a group of anti-Walker protesters has also assembled.

“A jingling of bells announces a customer, and Dave and Barb turn their attention to the tall man who has just entered. He’s got mustard yellow gloves stuffed in the right pocket of his cargo pants, and his clothes say Laborers International Union Local 4. He’s holding a green and gold sign that reads “Wisconsin Business Supports Workers’ Rights.”

“I stand with those people over there,” he says, pointing to the anti-Walker protesters, “and our organization AFSCME is going around talking to businesses and we don’t want boycotts. Essentially what we’re asking is businesses that will put this sign up, we will encourage our members and the people in this community to frequent these places and to remember.”

I want to ask what he means by “remember,” but I’m busy holding very still. Dave tells the man that he has a policy against putting up political signs for either side because he doesn’t want to upset any of his customers. For the next four minutes and 16 seconds, the union man argues his point and Dave and Barb repeat their position about remaining neutral, refusing to hang the sign. The union man pushes the front door open.

“I’ll give you a chance to think about it, but it would be prudent,” says the man. “This is not to make a threat, but I think that people will interpret the fact that because you didn’t put this up, that means that you side with Walker.”

“See, now it feels like you’re blackmailing us,” says Barb.

“Oh, I’m not trying to blackmail you,” he answers. “I’m just telling you the way it is.”

“But it is blackmail!” says Barb, visibly upset now. “That’s what’s frustrating! You want your rights but, by God, I want mine, too.”
“And we have the right to decide where we’re going to do business,” he says, the door closing behind him in a last-word vacuum.

There’s a long silence after he leaves. Things just got very personal in here. The Wolffs stare out the window, where the atmosphere is almost festive as the anti-Walker crowd builds and dozens of cars honk in solidarity from the highway. A woman in a black baseball cap holds a yellow piece of tagboard, the words “I give my students 100%” scrawled across it in black Sharpie. For her, it’s personal, too.

“I can’t put a sign out for anybody,” Dave repeats to himself, as if to make sure.

“They’re gonna end up putting us out of business,” Barb says quietly.”

You’ve heard that phrase,  “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” (Just before you got laid off, perhaps.)  Now the phrase needs some updating. How about, “It’s not personal, it’s just Wisconsin under the Walker administration”?

The article in full is HERE.   

4 thoughts on ““I stand with those people over there” : Madison Magazine’s “The Walker Effect”

  1. A multi-blog comment: If things keep on as they are, history books will mark this as the turning point for the United States. After which teachers can’t teach anything the rich don’t like, students can’t write anything against corporations, elected officials can’t vote against the rich, citizens can’t sue corporations, ballots against the rich won’t be counted, etc. Corporate fascism starts now. Sheesh, I guess I’ve been radicalized.

  2. I’m from Union Grove where there was a similar situation, and I came to the same conclusion. It’s all well and good for businesses to give all kinds of money and in-kind donations to Republicans, but as soon as anyone suggests that people don’t have to do business with those whose politics we don’t agree with then we are bullies trying to put them out of business.

    I used to go out of my way and pay more to boot to support local businesses in my small town. No more, I know where they stand and I choose to support businesses who do not oppose my rights.

  3. Thanks for the correction and interesting note. I’d love to go up to that area to see what’s up at Wilderness Cruises. My intro to the woodsy counties was a summer working at a resort on the Fox lakes oh…about 24 years ago, now.

  4. First, Wolff’s Log Cabin isn’t in Tomahawk. It’s in Rhinelander. But here’s another news flash. Tom Tiffany, one of the Republicans in the State Assembly who voted against worker’s rights, owns a business just west of the Log Cabin on Highway 8. “Wilderness Cruises” uses a portion of the Wisconsin River running west of Rhinelander, as a home port for his river boat excursion cruise business. My guess is Tiffany will have some company sharing that section of the river this season (and for many to come).

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