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FORWARD

(posted November 7th on Facebook)


Knocking on doors with the lads, the weekend before the election

Hey everyone,

For me, writing is one of the very best ways to process things. Getting the thoughts out of my head allows for the page to turn.

This will be my last post on the Democracy page for a good long while. ————————- First the good news:

-In 2016, Wisconsin’s 29th Assembly district was won by over 6000 votes.

-Last night we lost by only 2652.

-Despite (or perhaps because of) our strict stance on donations and campaign funding we more than DOUBLED the amount of money raised by the democrat (Scottie Ard) in 2014.

-All small individual donations.

-Our best estimates suggest that dozens of people hand wrote and mailed out over 6000 postcards to voters.

Wonderful. ——————————————— This past year has been the most exciting and exhilarating year of my life.

The Calabrese/Perrin’s are not the typical political family. For the last 6 years we’ve been barely scraping by.

We had a long interesting housing situation where we bartered our farm care taking against our rent. It was a fun experience, and a great place to raise our sweet boys. However in terms of accumulating money and building our businesses it was not good at all.

Then we moved to Menomonie in February and got our respective businesses up and running.

Politics and attention to the world, national and local news is a daily thing for us.

We jumped headlong into this Assembly race because we know the issues, we know the problems, and we firmly believed we could help and inspire and do what was best for our kids.

For the last few months we’ve given it everything. I turned down or put off many woodworking/ construction jobs, and we took out a personal loan to help cover expenses.

If I could go back in time, I’d do exactly the same thing again.

We’ve made lifelong friends who have been with us from the beginning of this endeavor.

Recently, It’s gotten to be almost embarrassing the amount of times people stop me in the store or on the street to take both my hands in theirs and thank me profusely, as if I just found their lost dog and returned it home.

The team.... The parades, and the meetings, and the email chains and the shirts and the characters and the decades upon decades of wisdom, and the laughter and the hope.

The support from all over.... old friends and family who live far away, and people I hadn’t even met yet offering to do anything they could.

I’ve got all that forever now.

And then there’s the doors.

The streets, the sidewalks, the driveways, and the Doors.

I never imagined I would love it so much. On Monday night when the post daylight savings darkness came quick, I started to panic because I knew that was it for now.

Every day for months I was feeding off of it. Every day....I was thriving off it. You just never know. You scan the driveway and the yard. You start to guess based on landscaping, bumper stickers, garden gnomes.... Who’s in there? What will I see, hear, smell? And the dogs... so many dogs.

Then they’d answer and I’d tell them I’m running. And every door was different.

It was/is in my opinion the absolute best way to rekindle any doubts you have about human kindness, and community. Ninety six and a half percent of the people were incredibly kind and patient.

What an honor.

Don’t know if anybody remembers the story I relayed here a few weeks ago about an elderly couple in New Richmond who (among other things) were looking for someone to do house cleaning?

A week later, back in New Richmond again I knocked on a door and a woman answered. She said she didn’t live there, she just does the house cleaning.

The elderly couple now has her name and number. (So do I if anybody needs it)

Now the page turns, we pick things back up, and move forward as people who are better and filled with more life than we were before. ——————————— I can’t wrap up my process of processing without speaking one more time about Wisconsin politics and my other group of new friends.

The candidates.

This is the frustrating part, this is the maddening part, this is the part that keeps the righteous fire burning.

Either on social media, in message groups, on the phone or in person, I’ve met some of the most inspiring, caring, energetic future leaders this country has to offer.

I’m sure many will think I’m biased, and I suppose I am, but these candidates, mostly women, left me stunned.

I honestly wasn’t expecting it.

My Wisconsin legislative experience prior to running was made up of dozens of meetings in Madison with legislators from across the state, trying to convince them to help get money out of politics.

I don’t know how to phrase this gently but in many cases the intelligence, inter-personal skills, and acumen of some legislators I met with was, well.... lacking.

So to see the sharp minds and open compassion of the candidates I’ve met this year was surprising to me.

Politicians in general often earn their reputations of being self serving and disingenuous.

Yet here, I saw candidates who genuinely care, who got into it specifically to help others. They are real.

But yesterday Wisconsin politics dealt a punch in the face back to reality. A reality where actually caring, and seeking to actually help others isn’t nearly enough to win.

I’ve followed these candidates as our races went on together.

In terms of hours put in, personal engagement, public presence, honest and specific policy points, energy and transparency, these candidates left their often incumbent opponents far, far back in the dust. Not... even.....close.

That’s not just my opinion. The time put in can be calculated. It’s real. Their tireless daily efforts are archived in the social media world. They shared their specific plans openly. It was real.

But yesterday, the vast majority of them got crushed.

Soundly defeated.

How do we explain this to our kids as we try to teach them the importance of hard work?

We can’t say “listen son, sure Ali, Kim, Wren, Charlie, Wendy Sue, Barry, Melissa, Emily, Lee, Margaret, Kris, Erin, Dan, Joel, worked really hard.... but the people just aren’t ready for clean water, smooth roads, better health care and public education. They think things are just great! They love money in politics, and that’s just democracy!”

No. Something ain’t right. Several things ain’t right. And we all have a decent idea of what they are.

As political power is strengthened and coveted by those who keep it, as they continue to spend their time figuring out how to keep it longer...

There are hundreds of people in this district, tens of thousands in this state, and millions in this country who simply do not matter at all to our politicians.

We must rest up, heal up, and take care of our families.

Then we must rise up and keep pushing. Not to defeat a political party, but to give equal voice to everyone.

We will get there by continuing to go to the people.

The people have the power. ———————————— Thanks and forever love to all those who’ve been with us these past months. I’ll do my best to thank you individually as the days go on. Signing off for now. Ya’ll know how to reach me.

Stay Strong.

FORWARD

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© 2018  John Calabrese for Wisconsin. Carol Nies, Treasurer