Letter to the Editor (October 2022)

Republican Extremism Not Recent Phenomenon

I’m often asked why so many people don’t challenge what is being said by Republicans, especially Donald Trump. I try to make sense of it, and I think it has a lot to do with what has been happening the last fifty plus years in the Republican Party.

Author David Corn’s recent book, American Psychosis, An Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy, traces Republican extremism, beginning with McCarthyism up to its current form — Trumpism. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s impact is still with us. His picture is displayed above the jury box in the Shawano County Court House. Why?

From 1950-54, McCarthy lead a witch hunt to root out alleged communists in the US government, Hollywood and elsewhere. Most of those he accused had nothing to do with the Communist Party, yet they were still blacklisted and/or lost their jobs.

The John Birch Society picked up where McCarthy left off. They even accused President Dwight D. Eisenhower, of being a Communist.

More recently, we have had the Tea Party, which falsely repeated over and over that President Obama was not born in the United States, that he was a Kenyan nationalist seeking to take over the government with socialism. Now we have Qanon with its unexplainable conspiracy theories.

Our nation is struggling to hold onto its democracy. In the past, the two major opposing political parties worked cooperatively. Today, it has become a money-fueled winner take all power struggle. Republicans make assertions that Democrats want to destroy our country. Democrats say Republicans are actually doing it: with stacked courts that render blatantly partisan decisions, and legislatures that seek to suppress the vote, even intent on controlling the voting process itself and the final outcome as well.

History has shown us that some people can and will say and do anything for power. History will also show that the elections next month can and will determine America’s future based on who we choose: whether it be a renewed effort to maintain our democracy, or acceptance of a radical right wing shift towards an authoritarian takeover by people who will not accept election results unless they win.

We need to vote wisely for our future and that of our families. That is, if we want to remain the United States of America. As Abraham Lincoln cautioned during a similar time of great peril: “a house divided cannot stand.”

Letter to the Editor

This is the current letter to the Editor which was distributed to the local area media by the Shawano County Democrats.

Have Some Faith in Our Leaders

Throughout history presidents have always been blamed for problems with the United States economy. Now is no exception.

Since the beginning of the pandemic we stayed home more and didn’t use as much gasoline. Now people are driving more so demand for gasoline has increased. Add to that the shortages because of the war in Ukraine and you get higher prices. To blame President Biden is not fair.

Exon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and BP have added to the problem. In the last quarter they limited supply and racked in $25 billion in profits, which is the highest income level in 7 years. Maybe they should help to stabilize prices.

Also happening with the COVID-19 outbreak was the interruption of goods production. Many workers got sick and missed work. This happened just as we were buying more products for home thus putting a strain on the worldwide supply chain.

Certain corporations have made the situation worse. Starbucks’s profits soared 352%. In 2021 Netflix doubled profits and UPS had a record-breaking year. Amazon made $35 billion and McDonald’s had $23 billion in revenues. Corporate profit margins are now at a 70-year high. They have profited at our expense.

All this corporate greed has led to increased prices. Consumers have found themselves having less purchasing power even though wages are on the rise. This dilemma is called “inflation”, a word Republicans have been using as they blame President Biden for consumer price hikes.

What is being ignored are the indicators that show the economy actually slowly rebounding from the effects of the pandemic. The national economy is seen as growing at 4%, a rate not seen since the Reagan administration. 6.6 million new jobs have been created in 2021. As hiring increases, President Biden is on track to have unemployment rates like the 1950’s.

Even Wisconsin is making progress. The unemployment rate is 2.8%, the lowest in Wisconsin’s history. Governor’s Evers’ investments in small businesses has paid off.

Our state has accumulated a projected budget surplus of historic proportions. His plan is to return a portion of the money to working families to help them fight rising costs.

We need to stop pointing fingers and have patience as cope with the higher prices. The price of gas, groceries and goods will come down when supplies stabilize. Have some faith in our leaders.


We haven’t had such division in our country since Wisconsin’s United States Senator Joseph McCarthy made false accusations of treason among left-wing individuals in the 1950’s.  His campaign spread fear of alleged communist and socialist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet Agents.  He lost credibility after several of his accusations were found to be false.

Unfortunately, history is repeating itself.  Now we have the “Big Lie” which alleges Donald Trump won the 2020 election due to voter fraud.  At this time there has been no evidence that points to illegal votes as the reason Trump lost.  The movement has, however, caused our county to be more and more divided as time goes on.

McCarthy was not the only Wisconsinite to divide our state.  Former Governor Walker used his “divide and conquer” strategy when it came to the state’s budgeting process.   He pitted public employee unions against those who wished to take down organized labor.  In reality it was less about budget-cutting and more about his personal campaign to weaken worker’s power.

FOX News has only fueled the divide in our country.  If you tune in (which I do only occasionally), you will hear daily rhetoric about how bad President Biden’s policies are and how the Democrats are destroying our country.

 If you go off FOX News (which I would recommend) and listen to other cable stations such as CNBC you will get less opinions and more “hard news”.  By tuning into “The News with Shepard Smith” at 6:00 pm you will get a non-political leaning on the true news.  By the way, Shep used to be a host on FOX but left because he didn’t like how they were using a false premise (disinformation about election fraud) to lead people astray.  He could see how this behavior was spreading seeds of division and thus doing harm to us as a nation. He couldn’t take it anymore.  He sleeps well at night knowing that his broadcasting of the news gives people the truth.

Keep in mind that division has been used as a path to power worldwide for centuries.  This holiday season should be the start of our effort to put aside politics and love our neighbor as ourselves as the Second Commandment suggests.  We can each be the catalyst which makes the world a better place for all.



  On Sept. 28, the Wisconsin Assembly decided to gag teachers and hog-tie school districts by voting to prohibit schools from full discussions about racism and sexism.  Wrong?  Absolutely.
Assembly Bill 411 is an effort to put a lid on our schools to having students grapple with racism and sexism which are so much a part of our history and our society. 
  Discussions involving Critical Race Theory has only been taught in colleges. Children are not being taught the complex theories of CRT in our Wisconsin schools or those in Virginia (even though their Republican for governor lied when he said they were).
  We as adults need to be educated about Critical Race Theory.  Everyone has a race.  Racism is the fact that ‘White’ means ‘normal’ and that anything else is “less than” different. The first step towards combating structural racism is acknowledging its existence.
  For Caucasian people, talking about race may be uncomfortable.  Discussions of race in America may center around the protection of White feelings.  It is okay to admit there are times when the United States has not been fair. 
  Don’t believe that our country needs a strong leader who will protect our children from having to deal with racism.  Banning certain books and articles will only make our children narrow minded in their thinking.  When a government has dictatorial power it can only lead to Fascism.
Social change requires making some noise. As with Black Lives Matter, activists are going to hold all influencers — allies or otherwise – accountable.  White people have to accept that anger is a natural response to being systematically oppressed.  It can be an effective tool. 
  Societies do not, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior or even 500 years ago in the case of our Native Americans.   Racism is everywhere.  People of color experience Frustration and Anger.  They are Silenced, Talked Over, and Ignored.  Every one of these emotions are felt painfully every single day by racial minority groups in our country.
  It’s up to all of us to continue the conversation by listening and empathizing. This includes discussion with our children and allowing our schools to teach accurate American history.  Be a part of the solution by changing perceptions for the betterment of ‘us’ all.

Edward Johnson

Shawano County Dems August, 2021 Newsletter


Don’t miss the Shawano Dems’ picnic on Thursday, August 19th from 5:00-7:00 pm at Kuckuk Park Pavilion (700 Oak Park Drive) in Shawano. Top tier United States Senate candidates Alex Lasry and Gilliam Battino will be there.  Lasry is a Milwaukee Buck executive who worked as a White House aide during the Obama administration and has since championed social justice efforts and labor agreements.

Battino is a radiologist from Wausau who is pushing hard on the issue of Medicare-for-all.
There will be pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, beans, dessert and ice cream for all who attend.  We will be having a 50/50 raffle and quilt raffle tickets will be available.  Come and bring liked-mined friends with you.


Our booth in the Commercial Building will be staffed the evening of Thursday, September 2nd and from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm Friday September 3rd through Monday, September 6th Those who sign up to work 2-3 hour shifts will receive a complementary ticket to the fair which includes parking.  At the fair we will sell quilt raffle tickets, “Proud Wisconsin Democrat” bumper stickers and will pass out information on the Democratic U.S. Senate candidates.
You can sign up at the picnic or call Jan at 715-296-6726.


The 2022 election is just around the corner and we are working to build our volunteer base.  Our action for the week of August 21 will be to again engage voters in face-to-face conversations at their doorsteps.  We will be offering training for our new volunteers on Wednesday, August 18th at the Civic Center at 7:00 pm and again on Saturday, August 21st at 9:00 am.  If you would like to join our efforts, please let us know you plan to attend.  There is a lot at stake in the next election and we want to be sure we are ready to get out our positive messages to as many people as possible.  At this time, we will be telling voters about how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit benefit to put $250-300 per child in working parents’ pockets.


Democrats should be given credit for the strides they have made since President Biden took office.   The Covid-19 stimulus bill gave citizens direct payments of $1400 and $300-a-week federal bonus unemployment benefits. Because of his bill we have free Covid testing and vaccinations. Governor Evers is also trying to improve the lives of Wisconsinites despite all the push back from the legislature.  We can see a middle-class tax cut and more funding for education, roads and health care because of his efforts.


August 19:  Picnic at Kuckuk Park (Shawano)  5-7 pm

Sept. 2-6:  Shawano County Fair Booth

Oct. 2:  Fundraising Dinner at Shawano Lake Golf Course.  Speaker will be U.S. Senate Candidate Tom Nelson.

Chair’s Comments

It was heartening to see so many people sign the petitions that the Shawano Fairness Coalition had at their ShawanoFest booth in July.   Some signed the petition to see stable and competitive wages for employees working in Shawano County and others signed the petition to have the Wisconsin State Legislature pass nonpartisan redistricting legislation.

It is important that we call our representatives at 800-362-9472 and tell them we want them to pass Senate Bill 389 and Assembly Bill 395. These bills would end gerrymandering by creating a fair, nonpartisan procedure for drawing future maps.

Shawano County Dems – June, 2021 Newsletter


Now there are six candidates vying for the chance to defeat Ron Johnson in the November, 2022 election. In addition to Tom Nelson, Alex Lowry, Sarah Godlewski and Gillian Battino, the following candidates have announced their candidacy.

State Senator Chris Larson wants to unrig the system in addition to stopping the fascism that has been taking over America.  He believes in affordable child care, paid family leave and access to healthcare for all.  He will Zoom with us at our July 21st meeting.  https://voteforlarson.org/

Steve Olikara is the founder and former CEO of the Millennial Action Project which trains young elected officials to build diverse coalitions for real change.  He wants to lead with the values of dignity, inclusion and compassion.  You can find out more at https://www.stevenolikara.com/.

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Below is a Letter to the Editor published in the Shawano Leader.


After decades of disinvestment, our roads, bridges, and water systems are crumbling. Our electric grid is vulnerable to catastrophic outages. Too many lack affordable, high-speed Internet and quality housing. It’s embarrassing that the greatest nation in the world is ranked 13th in the overall quality of infrastructure according to a study in 2019.

Government officials from both parties have been promising for years how they will move forward with an infrastructure plan.  Former President Trump announced two different infrastructure weeks that never happened.  Governor Evers promised if elected he would fix “the damn roads”.  Finally, we have a president and a governor who are working on infrastructure at the same time.

Evers’ Badger Bounceback agenda shows his commitment to fixing the 1,949 miles of crumbling roads as well as the 198 bridges which are in poor condition in Wisconsin. His 2021-23 budget brings the state’s investment in transportation aid for local roads to its highest level ever.

Infrastructure telecommunications include internet connectivity and broadband access.  Every Wisconsinite should be able to access and afford internet.  Evers’ would like to invest five times the amount invested in the 2013, 2015, and 2017 budgets combined making internet services affordable to all income levels.

President Biden is also committed to improving our infrastructure.   Biden’s American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs and rebuild our country’s infrastructure.

The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race in the late 1960’s.  The past year has led to job losses and threatened economic security.  Our nation is falling behind its biggest competitors on research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and training. It has never been more important for us to invest in strengthening our infrastructure and competitiveness, and in creating good-paying jobs of the future.

In a Monmouth University Poll survey sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults supported the president’s infrastructure package dealing with physical needs including road, bridge and tunnel upkeep, as well as broadband internet expansion and electric vehicle investments.

Hopefully our elected officials can support the people, compromise, and come up with infrastructure plans that improve life for all Americans.

Shawano County Dems – May, 2021 Newsletter

So far there are four candidates vying for the chance to defeat Ron Johnson in the November, 2022 election.

Sarah Godlewski will be speaking at our May 19th meeting.  She is a small business woman and our State Treasurer.  She is running to fix Ron Johnson’s mess and get Washington laser-focused on the kitchen table issues facing Wisconsin families.   www.sarahforwisconsin.com.

Tom Nelson has been the Outagamie County Executive since 2011. He previously spent six years in the Wisconsin Assembly. He believes we need real leaders in Washington who will take COVID seriously.  www.nelsonforwi.com

Alex Lasry is a businessman and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks.  He served in the Obama White House.  Alex is running to bring a new way of thinking to Washington and deliver real results for Wisconsinites.  www.alexlasry.com

Gillian Battino is a radiologist from Wausau.  She spent more than 20 years in medicine and public service.  She wants to use her empathy to build a brighter future for all of Wisconsin.  www.battinoforsenate.us
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Shawano Dems News Update

March Meeting Reminder

Wed., March 17th
7:00 pm

Zoom link below

Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause

Jay will speak about the voter suppression measures being introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature and about the fair maps redistricting process.

Contact us for Log In information.


For Our Future is a grassroots group calling voters across the state, reminding them about the election on April 6th.

Throughout the month, they are spending every Tuesday night hosting a fun virtual phone bank to educate voters about the candidates for the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) race and encourage them to request their absentee ballot ahead of the April 6th election.

Sign up for our next phonebank- March 16th @ 5:15pm- now!  They will also be texting on March 23rd  and 30th.

This year, we have a chance to elect Jill Underly, a state superintendent of schools who cares about all students and teachers, and who will take the necessary steps towards getting them back in the classroom safely and effectively.

Letter to the Editor

Below is a letter that was on the online Shawano Leader.

Can White people claim they’re not racist?

Published by andynewsengin on Thu, 03/11/2021 – 11:16am

To the editor:

Based on certain events of the past year including the infamous George Floyd affair, it has become increasingly embarrassing for me to be a White man in America. I have put a considerable effort into learning more about how deeply racism is ingrained in our society. I have come to agree that racism is systemic and that each White American bears a portion of the collective responsibility.

Let me give a personal example. If I see a White person walking on the street in front of my house, unless that person trespasses onto my property, I don’t give the matter a thought. If that same incident involved a Black person, I would have the reflexive reaction of “What is he or she doing in my neighborhood?” Another example, have you ever had the automatic verbal or internal response of “Gee, he sure does not sound Black”? I’m not proud of my reactions but they are real.

It is absolutely true that no white person can experience the daily profiling that occurs. No matter how successful in life, every Black dad or mom has to have the “talk” of how to act around a White police officer. Every Black person regardless of how successful has in effect had to start 20 yards behind a similarly qualified white person in life’s 100-yard race. Most white people’s ancestors came here by choice in search of a better life. Black people starting in the early 17th century came here as property.

Here is food for thought:

  • Consider the reaction of government to the events of Black Lives Matter protests compared to the insurrection of Jan. 6 largely put on by White people.
  • Consider that Wisconsin still does not formally acknowledge Black History Month. Politicians like Robin Vos and Jim Steineke let the matter slide and when asked why offer no response.
  • Consider the actions of Republicans to suppress the scope of absentee voting and voting by mail for the implicit purpose of impairing the process for people of color — a modern day version of Jim Crow.

I have submitted this piece as a form of personal and public shaming. I need to take ownership. Though not a traditional Christian, I do believe that Jesus came not only to comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable. Think about it.

Ken Kroenke, Shawano