ON “MIDWEST NICE” AND OUR NOT-NICE POLITICS

A guest post from a fellow campaigner and native Wisconsinite, who’s officially retired from politics but unofficially comments on political news and more at explainher.com.

A few years ago, over some now-forgotten holiday, a younger cousin still in college mentioned the homeless people near her apartment building in Milwaukee. “Gross,” she said. “I wish they’d go away.” After a beat or two of uncomfortable silence, my uncle shushed her: “That’s not nice; don’t say that.” He didn’t say it was wrong of her to say that, or note that the people she so clearly disregarded were suffering, too, and over a holiday, no less. No, it just wasn’t nice.

My family has never been accused of being anything but nice. Nice suburban houses. Nice kids who go to nice colleges. Nice family gatherings a few times a year. They go to nice churches on Sundays and carpool with nice neighbors to after-school sports games. They are, without a doubt, profoundly and utterly nice.

Like many Midwesterners, I was raised on “nice.” The ideas of “Wisconsin Nice” and “Minnesota Nice” still shape the national dialogue today. It’s why reporters can’t stop traveling to Iowa to hear from nice families in Sioux City and why every major media outlet can’t stop trying to figure out how Donald Trump, the ultimate bully, won over all these nice, hot-dish-loving people.

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