If this past week was indicative of how contentious the next 90 or so days are going to be before the November election, get ready. The season is heating up to match the summer temps.
Across our region and America, ongoing coronavirus concerns are a flashpoint of controversy about whether we should be wearing masks, or allowing people more economic and social freedom. Many of our larger cities are ablaze with protesting, rioting, violence, and more, engulfing whole city swaths.
Sauk County’s importance in 2020 has brought national media attention to our little haven. Recently, a Wall Street Journal reporter spent time here, and on July 23 ran a story, “Coronavirus Divides 2020 Bellwether County in Wisconsin.” I am thankful to those who participated, and appreciate their guile and willingness to converse.
I contributed to a July 22 Washington Post story, “Conservative media helps Trump perform ‘law and order’ in Portland, with risks for November.” In the story, I conveyed concern over using federal troops. Only the portion regarding the concern made the story. It excluded the very important context regarding a fundamental lack of control by local authorities, or willingness to curb the violence is what created the decision to use federal troops to protect lives and property.
While no one wants to see police in protective gear, or troops in camouflage, we have to consider and repudiate the actions of those who wantonly and intentionally incite violence and anarchy, creating this compelling need.
The challenge faced by those brave enough to speak up is they are subjected to the discernment of the listener and interpreter. We find it in all types of stories across the board when those participating wonder why a particular segment of the conversation was chosen, and not a broader context. It leads them to question intent. In defense of writers, space is often very limited to bring out key items, but it makes those who speak up recalcitrant to engage.
Destruction of our cities must stop. Violence is not the answer in any way. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law (prohibiting) the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Many assemblages have been peaceful, and all respect such gatherings. When those gatherings involve stoppage of traffic, or include violence is when they depart from the term “peaceable.”
In this age of 24-hour news cycles, and everyone carrying cell phones, there are too many rushes to judgment based on snippets shared virally. We saw unfettered violence and discord leading officials in Seattle to stop the “summer of love” in the defunct Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone – CHAZ – or Capitol Hill Organized Protest—CHOP zone, proving once again anarchy will not work. The continued abetment by local authorities will not end chaos. A July 26 Washington Examiner story reports a letter from Seattle’s police chief, “to business owners and residents reminding them officers will not be able to use nonlethal weapons when attempting to disperse large gatherings starting this weekend, citing a newly-passed city ordinance.” Police are powerless in Seattle to curb violence.
On July 22, the Sauk County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution confirming it lacked authority to implement a “mask mandate.” Controversy still rages on both sides, and some took chagrin at portrayals of their public testimony. Conversation about the county’s lack of “constitutional home rule authority,” on which the resolution was expressly based was sort of lost. We are tasked with showing complete representations of those who step forward.
We are at a crossroads as a nation, whether we will accept and capitulate to wanton destruction, or stem the violence and seek further engaged dialogue. Key to any solutions is encouraging those with the temerity and fortitude to step forward in an appropriate way to do so without fear of reprisal. In these moments I remember my favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Thank you to those who stand resolute in their beliefs. Remember the courage of your convictions, and keep up the fight.
Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo, and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He currently serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Sauk County. Opinions herein are exclusively his own and not those of the Republican parties of Wisconsin or Sauk County. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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