The Rub Between Holiday Joy and Political Urgency
It's been a busy week for the brewery, so I don't have a ton for you today on the political front, but I wanted to share a feeling that started coming over me when I was walking to WCPT 820 AM, Chicago's progressive talk radio station, to be a guest on Patty Vasquez's show last Thursday.
On the way from the subway to the radio station, I passed a lot of bars, saw people having fun, and mentally wandered into two diametrically opposing thoughts: The first was "Man, the holiday season is so joyous, it's fun to forget about our troubles--eat and drink a little bit more than we should--and BE MERRY." The second thought was "OMG, our electoral system in Wisconsin and America is being undermined at this very moment, what can I do to convince people to take this WAY MORE SERIOUSLY."
These two thoughts brought me back to the Overton Window, a concept I focus on WAY TOO MUCH because it scares me every time I think about it.
The Overton Window is a theory that says there are, at any specific time, a particular collection of ideologies, ideas and policies which are acceptable to the general public. This assemblage of legitimacy shifts over time; ideas which were once considered unacceptable can become commonplace.
If you look at the rainbow-like graph above, the Overton Window was analyzed in 2016 and appeared to have shifted way to the right because of a variety of factors: More Republican power in state legislatures driven by dark money, the advent of the real "fake news," like Fox and conservative talk radio, and let's be honest, a LOT of shady corporate lobbying influence on our own Democratic Party.
Ideas that should be unacceptable to Americans are CONSTANTLY being introduced to the public by the right and those ideas shift this window. Here are a few that continue to make me crazy:
- Guns are the only way to keep you and your family safe (when in fact an overabundance of guns cause our society to be unsafe.)
- Our elections are fraudulent (when they aren't) and thus we need to make it harder to vote.
- Protesting against your government (mostly in response to police brutality which we're now seeing on irrefutable video clips from bystander cellphones) should be made illegal, because those protestors are domestic terrorists (when in fact the real domestic terrorists are folks who tried to overthrow our country on January 6).
These three are just the first ones I thought of, but we're reading outlandish things daily, like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's quip last week, made in all seriousness, that the Republican majority legislature should simply "take over" the election process in Wisconsin.
If these insane and unacceptable ideas, like the BIG LIE, are repeated enough through Fox News, talk radio, and social media, people start to accept them as normal.
I think it's human nature for people to avoid politics, because it's so often mean and hateful, and think "Why can't politicians just meet in the middle and work things out?" "Both sides are bad, we need to vote for the one that seemingly moves the most towards the middle."
Well folks, if we're getting a constant stream of crazy ideas from the right that become normalized enough to move the Overton Window to the right, then the "middle" is no longer a safe place for America to be, because it's not really the middle. It's a place that still hurts everyone who isn't rich and takes away their vote.
This is the thought that keeps me up at night:
"How can I get through to people who avoid politics to convince them that their frames of reference have been skewed rightward through fear- and hate- based psychological manipulation?"
And then I think...
"Kirk, it's Christmas, let it go for a few weeks..."
...which is probably some decent advice, and exactly the message we're supposed to get from this holiday season. No matter how bad things are in politics, there are things that are WAY MORE IMPORTANT, like focussing on enjoying the magic of the holiday season with your loved ones.
Now for a shameless plug.
The Minocqua Brewing Company is a business, after all, and we sell stuff--namely BEER, and we want you to buy it.
This email list has grown tremendously over the last year, and believe it or not, there are more people that read it outside of Wisconsin than inside (which still surprises me), and this plug is for all of you.
We can now ship our beer to many states outside of Wisconsin, but not every state allows it (sorry California).
Another weird hiccup for our friends in Wisconsin--our state laws don't allow us to ship beer to folks WITHIN Wisconsin, so if you live here you still gotta go to the store.
We ship every Monday, so if you order today, your beer will be boxed up and sent via UPS tomorrow, December 13, and SHOULD get to its destination before Christmas (but shucks guys, we're not gonna guarantee that because we're not UPS.)
Here's the link to our new new online ordering area. Put in your state and hopefully you get lucky and we're allowed to ship there (hint hint Washington D.C., all you political animals over there, we definitely can ship to you).
Remember, 5% of or profits from the beer and merchandise you buy are donated back to our Super PAC, which funds all our our activism around the state.
I just wanted to leave you with a picture we posted on FB last week that helps me find the energy to keep hammering away at our state that has gone off the rails.
The young woman in this picture and the innocence and fairness of youth that she represents is a big reason why the Minocqua Brewing Company is doing what we're doing.
Hopefully this picture inspires you as well. Keep fighting with us to "Make Wisconsin Great Again, One Beer at a Time."
(but maybe it's ok to hold off on that fight until after the holidays.)
Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with us.
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC
Donate here to the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC
Buy Merchandise here
Here's a map of where our beer is sold in Wisconsin and Illinois