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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

Begel: Arguing about money in politics is stupid. It's here. Live with it. Both sides.

Democrats adopting same bad strategies Republicans


I'm a proud liberal and I believe that government has a role in helping those who need help and building a better world for everyone, not just a select few.

I believe in the Affordable Care Act and I think that a woman should be able to make her own choices about her own body. I believe people should be able to marry whoever they fall in love with. I believe that workers should have the right to unionize and negotiate for salary, benefits and working conditions.

I have long felt that being a liberal is an honorable and creative way to live. I have always felt proud that I believe in equality for everyone and equally proud that I've fought against discrimination and protection of the wealthy.

But I see warning signs on the horizon for liberals and those signs make it look like we are starting to act like Republicans.

If there is one thing that has marked Republicans in recent times is their tactic of seizing on the miniscule and using it to cast wide aspersions on Democrats.

Think about the frantic opposition to the Affordable Care Act by Republicans. They held hearings, for God's sake, on the computer glitches that hit the rollout. John Boehner standing up in front of cameras, his tan shriveling his skin, as he roared about who should be fired because of the glitches.

Republicans are experts at the task of making mountains out of molehills.

But I'm afraid the same thing may well be happening to us liberals.

Recently there have been kerfuffles about Gov. Scott Walker and Congressman Paul Ryan. Liberals, aided by some media outlets, are trying to attach Walker to thousands of emails and claim that he (horror of horrors) did politics while he was working as county executive.

And there is this "shame on you thing" about Ryan telling a story he got from another Republican and it turns out the story was false, although Ryan didn't know that.

Liberals are also around the bend about the hated Koch brothers who donate millions of dollars to right wing candidates, including Walker. Just check this video from an online show called "The Young Turks."

Here's the problem.

I have known hundreds of politicians. I don't know a single one who never did campaign or political work in conjunction with his official duties. When Barack Obama goes to Des Moines to give a speech about something is that official or political? Same thing can be said of every president we've ever had.

When Walker tours some company and puts on a hard hat for the cameras and talks about job growth, is that campaign/political work or is it the official governor talking?

And this thing about the Koch brothers? Sure they are obnoxious. But the millions they invest in their candidates are just like the millions many people donate to Democratic candidates. Arguing about money in politics is stupid. It's here. Live with it. Both sides.

The last thing I want is for good Democrats to get into some kind of pissing match with Republicans to see who can be the most outraged over something of who can shout the loudest over some minor suspected transgression.

Here's the thing. We are better than that. Let the Republicans wallow in the gutter of slam politics. We don't have to get down in the gutter with them.

Let the politics of division rule their actions. Let the politics of equality and inclusion remain our mantra.

If some Republican says something stupid, let's not blow it out of proportion and make it a personal attack. Just because they get huge donations doesn't mean we have to sound alarm bells.

Let's act like good Democrats. Like good liberals.

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