By Brandi Makuski
Emmy-winner and political activist Bradley Whitford stopped in Stevens Point on Wednesday, part of his brief Midwest tour to amp up Democrats ahead of November’s mid-term elections.
Whitford was introduced by Assemblywoman Katrina Shankland, who said she came with a “message of hope and optimism”.
“What’s the point of being here if we aren’t going to sign up to put some work in and win elections in November?” Shankland asked the crowd gathered at the Portage Co. Democratic Party Headquarters, 2220 Division St.
Shankland said in her travels across the state she’s spoken with residents who aren’t happy with the Republican majority, and they plan to support attorney general candidate Josh Kaul, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and other Democratic candidates on November’s ticket.
“I’ve heard form lifelong Republicans who are so tired of corruption and pollution and all their tax dollars going to private entities instead of education and roads who are like, ‘You know what? I’m going to vote Democrat for the first time ever and I’m proud of it’,” Shankland said.
She added that earlier in the day, Whitford, notable for his regular appearance in West Wing and movies like Cabin in the Woods, remarked the importance of voting for elected officials who will “truly represent us and care about us.”
Whitford, who addressed the group of volunteers for a little over 10 minutes, was critical of taxation and equality under elected Republicans, calling it “such a disorienting time.”
“It’s almost like an Al-Anon situation: daddy’s nuts,” Whitford joked. “And we have to take care of our side of the street.”
Whitford said he believed Wisconsin was important on the national stage, and that Republicans targeted the state because of its strong historical stance on worker’s rights.
“It’s very clear it’s not a coincidence the Koch brothers (Charles and David, of Koch Industries) and all the think tanks went after Wisconsin with their tool, Scott Walker, one of the great minds of the 13th century,” he said. “Wisconsin came up with the idea of workman’s comp, of unemployment insurance in the teens, for God’s sake. FDR and the New Deal was inspired by programs that started here. That’s why they came after us, and that’s why the work you do is so important. They exploit our vulnerabilities.”
Whitford, a native of Madison, blasted conservatives on a lack of health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, inclusion for women in the workplace, marriage equality, and “understanding diversity is our strength, not a threat.”
“I feel like we have woken up,” he said. “I think we got a little bit lazy; we took our eye off the ball, and of course, they cheated,” he said, prompting laughter in the audience. “I truly believe there is an opportunity for someone like Trump to come along who talks to economically vulnerable Americans and uses their absolutely justified frustrations with what is wrong with the economy as a way to divide us, to blame others, never providing the solution. We’re not crazy; they’re crazy. They want our young people to think our vote doesn’t matter. They want our young people to get used to the idea that school shootings are just something that happen; that university background checks would be too much. They want us to be cynical.”
Whitford’s main message to Democrats on Sept. 26: encourage younger voters to get involved.
“There is an opening, especially at this very strange moment, to get them to get out and vote. Keep doing what you’re doing; get young people involved,” he said.
Whitford reportedly visited Belts’ Soft Serve before leaving town.