HOPE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY GET CANCER OR AIDS AND PERISH IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES.
So said one person in their comments on a blog post I shared about the new health order issued following Wednesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling. I did not publish it, per my policy, because it was also full of swear words.
But I share it here to say this is where we are when it comes to political discourse in America, in Wisconsin, in South Milwaukee.
Granted, this is an extreme example. But a quick scan of social media in the past week, and beyond — including my own blog and Facebook pages — shows a host of ugly, personal attacks, accusations and name calling.
Some have called me a “dictator” and “king” and “tyrant” for standing behind the local health order in place across all but one community in Milwaukee County right now. I have been called “Herr Brooks” for supporting our health officer and other health experts in trying to take a responsible, measured, and safe approach to reopening, for fear of unnecessary sickness and death. I’ve been called a liar, lawbreaker, a “POS,” and a hater of small business (despite being a small business owner myself and spending more than a decade fighting for them in South Milwaukee).
Of course, this is not only in our city. This is happening across social media — and in normal discourse — and about and from leaders across our country, about and from the highest levels of government to those on the front lines. It’s happening in neighborhoods, among friends and families.
This has somehow now become OK in 2020 America, and I can’t stand for that. I won’t stand for that. We are better than this. We have to be better than this.
We need to get back to a place where we can agree to disagree reasonably, where we can respect opposing viewpoints and those who hold them, where we can overcome differences amicably to work together and get things done. We must move away from our “winner takes all” mentality, away from a place where politics is a zero-sum game, away from a place where “if I’m right, you are not only wrong, you must also be shouted down and ridiculed because of it” — and to a place of mutual respect.
The division must end, and it starts with the words we choose, starting with me. I am passionate in my viewpoints, and last week said a few things on Facebook in the heat of the moment I’d probably take back if I could. I can do better, too.
As we move ahead, let me be clear: I can take it, and I will as I have for more than a decade in politics. In many ways, this is what I signed up for. I’ve taken my share of arrows, and I welcome and encourage disagreement. I have even created platforms (including this one) to allow people to do so. I will continue to share information all of these platforms, always putting a high value on communication and transparency.
With that in mind, I offer this ….
- While I will continue to post on Facebook as a means to share information to a large audience quickly, and will continue to monitor comments, I will likely not engage on any comments that tag me. It’s overwhelming, and Facebook is not the right platform to have reasonable debates on issues, at least not now.
- Instead, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Or call me and leave a voicemail at 414-768-8049. I receive an email message with an audio file of all voicemails left on my office line.
- You can also comment on my blog, constructively. I will attempt to respond to all questions raised in that manner.
- I’ll also respond to as many questions via direct Facebook messages that I can.
In other words, there are plenty of ways to contact me, and I will always make sure that is the case. I welcome feedback, and I will take all of it with my head held high, always staying focused on making what I think are the best decisions I can on behalf of the people who have entrusted me with the responsibility of leading this city.
I take that responsibility seriously, and will continue to work toward a day of respectful debate, constructive criticism and acceptance that we are stronger, together.
Stay healthy, and united, South Milwaukee.