I’m on State St. right by the University of Wisconsin. Same place I was a few weeks back but I’m down the road a bit at a bar called State Street Brats. Most of the campaign people are going out to dinner at some fancy steak place. I’m hanging back. I think I’ll try to take my little assistant guy Mike to dinner instead. I’m tired and I have been on far too many campaigns to not know how weekend nights turn out: late & drunk. I’m more than happy to act my age tonight. It’s good to be out here. It’s even better to be out here and be me. That’s because it’s impossible to be in the thick of high profile, national elections and not recognize the investment I’ve made in work over the last 14 or 15 years an what that’s done for me. I like it. But I also like coming back and having a keep-it-real moment like this weekend. We’ve been working our asses off out here.
Today was spent canvassing the ghetto in Milwaukee…hardcore, poor, African American precincts. Actually, they have wards here, not precincts. Rough turf. I’m fairly certain we witnessed some drug deals going down and I’m positive that at least one group of teenagers considered rolling us. Man, I’m glad I’m not afraid of neighborhoods or people. I can keep the pulse of what’s going on around me without getting all terrified about it. Yesterday we went to Ripon, WI which was exactly the opposite – tons of white people. I saw a buffalo, some Amish folks and even did a little bit of work in a small Swiss village. Perhaps it goes without saying, but Wisconsin is a very diverse state. Not diverse like I am use to either. Hey I also learned that Ripon is the birthplace of the Republican Party. I got a picture of me next to the sign because I thought Cory would get a kick out of it.
When we were done working we stopped by an Indian casino – the ‘Ho Chunk’ tribe. Such a hilarious name. Even funnier is the fact that they used to be called the ‘Winnebago’ tribe but they hated that so they changed it to Ho Chunk. Is that actually better? I think I lost about $150, which was the least amount of money that anyone lost, so that’s good. But casinos can be downers, and outside of Las Vegas, like the inner city ones in LA or Detroit, or the ones on reservations…they are particularly depressing. The tables are quiet. People aren’t on vacation – they’re there because they are looking to win some money. They need to win some money. In fact, I stood in line behind some guy at the cashier’s window who handed over a debit card and then had this exchange:
Man: Yeah, here’s my debit card. There’s $26 in that account. Give me $23.
Cashier: We have a $4 transaction fee sir.
Man: Are you serious? That’s crazy! Ok then…just give me $22.”
Ugh. And the shitty state of the national economy is always on my mind. Rather, the juxtaposition of the national economy and my economy are always on my mind. Rhonda and I are doing great money-wise, better than we’ve ever been. We’ve been married seven years now and it’s like the first couple years we were just figuring out how to co-exist and deal with our individual obligations as a couple. The next few years were about finding a plan that was forward thinking and putting it in action. These days, we are seeing the benefits of that plan. We’ve got no debt. We bank our money and pay for ‘things’ and trips in cash. Between various savings and retirement accounts, I put just south of $4,000 in savings after bills and spending each month. That’s crazy. Rhonda does a little less, but she’s definitely on track with that. Things are great for us. But they aren’t great for everyone. In fact, things are pretty shitty for most people. I am constantly reminded how fortunate we are. And remember – I don’t believe in luck. We aren’t lucky. We made good decisions earlier in life in regards to education and work choices and we’re making good decisions now. That said, I know how easy our lives are when contrasted with most people and I don’t take my experience for granted.