By William Earnest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
This poem was a favorite of my grandfather’s, who was an officer in the Army and saw his fair share of suffering. It’s about courage, stoicism, and refusing to accept defeat. I’ve read it many times to help endure my own life’s struggles, but today, it helped me focus on the struggle to save the soul of Wisconsin, and in turn, America.
We have endured over a decade of psychological warfare, or “wrath and tears,” against our common senses through deceptive TV ads, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, and all the rest.
It hurts the soul to endure these constant lies that turn us “black as a pit,” but we can’t shirk our duty to protect democracy for our kids and the voiceless who depend on us to right this ship and be the “master of our fates.”
Deep down, most of us, regardless of party, know right from wrong, and we know that what we’re hearing from the cult of personality that has overtaken the Republican party is DEEPLY WRONG.
When my graphic designer and I were coming up with a t-shirt to sell along with our new beer: “Extinct Elephant, a Moderate Red Ale,” we stumbled upon the slogan “Choose Reason Over Treason.” These were the words we’d MOST LIKE TO IMPART to those seemingly invisible moderate conservatives for whom we’d made this beer.
We posted the t-shirt on Facebook and were immediately inundated by folks who asked us to put our slogan on a billboard. I’ve been at this social media thing long enough to realize these words were cutting through the noise in a unique way, so we called our smart political friends and told them to put this slogan on a billboard in an area with the highest concentration of Republicans in the state. Turns out this area is known as the “WOW counties” (Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington), and they’re basically the suburbs of Milwaukee.
The billboard pictured above went up yesterday in Menonomee Falls, home of the Waukesha County Republican Party that gave Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother a standing ovation after her 17-year-old brought a rifle to the Kenosha riots and killed two people.
These words are so simple, but mean SO MUCH. They ask moderate conservatives who know right from wrong to choose country over party. We need them, hopefully just this once, to vote blue, not because they agree with our politics, but because they believe in saving democracy.
Why do we need them to vote blue “just this once?”
If Democrats lose the majority in the Senate or the House, or if Wisconsin loses the governor’s race, we won’t be able to pass the federal laws necessary to shore up elections and keep them fair, nor will we be able to block dangerous bills at the state level meant to undermine the will of the people.
If Democrats lose on November 8, the door will be left wide open for the next insurrection, and there won’t be enough reasonable people in power to stop it.
We need REASONABLE conservatives to understand that we have to come together to save democracy, even if we don't agree on ANYTHING ELSE.
The fear-mongering about crime and inflation, fueled by millions of dollars of dark money, is being used to deflect our attention away from this direct and impending threat to America’s democracy.
We can’t let the average voter who knows right from wrong get confused about what’s really happening. We have to keep them focused on saving democracy, because almost everything else they’re hearing about in this election is smoke and mirrors.
We think the slogan “Choose Reason Over Treason” might cut through this deflection.
We put this sign up yesterday but have also located every other available digital billboard in the WOW counties and are ready to snatch them all up if we can raise the money to do it.
Also, we know there hasn’t been enough focus on WI-3 which includes La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Stevens Point, and is the most important Congressional race in Wisconsin. This seat has been gerrymandered but is still salvageable for Democrats, and a win here could make the difference in holding onto a Democratic majority in the House.
The difference between the two candidates in this race are stark. On the Democratic side, we have Brad Pfaff, who grew up in a farming family with all the other farmers in the area, and knows in his bones what his constituents need to thrive. On the other side, we have an election denier who attended the insurrection on January 6th and moved to the area specifically to run for office. This is exactly the type of dangerous candidate that Trump has unleashed on America, and he is being funded by billionaires that benefit from owning the party in power.
We feel that we have to focus on the WOW counties first, but if we raise enough money, we’ll rent as many digital billboards as we can in the 3rd Congressional District as well.
So folks, like many of you, I don’t know exactly what it’s going to take to shake our neighbors out of the cultish spell they’ve been put under, but my team is throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall and we’re hoping some of it sticks.
I think this slogan could stick. If you want to help us put more of these billboards up, please donate here.
We in Wisconsin have been bloodied, but we have to remain unbowed and unafraid, and keep fighting.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sticking with us. Together, we can convince our neighbors to choose REASON OVER TREASON and give our seniors, kids, and marginalized the lives that a government “for the people and by the people” intended—One Beer At A Time.
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC.