Nickolas Butler, a writer in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, remembers the Wisconsin of his childhood and wonders why the current political leadership wants to destroy everything that was beautiful about the state. The schools, the dedicated teachers, the world-class university, the precious environment and landscape. 
He writes: 
“I remember, my days and years in Eau Claire’s public schools, well-kept buildings populated by teachers that I truly adored and admired, like heroes. My parents stood in lockstep with these educators and on those days when I arrived home with a substandard report card (and there were many such dismal report cards), I never thought to blame my teachers, nor would have my parents entertained such nonsense.
“When I left for college in Chicago, I volunteered at an inner-city elementary school. The furnace often malfunctioned, and the school was very cold in winter. One day, I waited on the school’s front steps for a bus to take me back to campus. The principal ran out of the building and taking me by the arm, escorted me back inside. 
“Why, I asked, couldn’t I sit outside? Because, I was told, I might be shot. Likewise, the playground was a dangerous place for the children to play, strewn with needles and broken glass, and the chain-link fence no defense for errant bullets.
“Well, I thought, this is Chicago.
“I remember, for example, the first time I heard about mountaintop-mining in the Appalachian Mountains. Such a notion was so profoundly brutal, so antithetical to the manner in which I had been raised, that I could not comprehend the “effiency” of it all. But psychologically I distanced myself from that reality, by dismissively thinking, Well, that only happens in West Virginia, or Kentucky. That would never happen in Wisconsin. We would never scalp our landscape, our home.
“I remember, as a Boy Scout exploring Wisconsin’s network of state parks. Listening to the news or Garrison Keillor on Wisconsin Public Radio each weekend. I remember a popular Republican governor who introduced recycling during my childhood, and often voraciously fought for a public train system.
“I remember that my church invited foreign refugees into our community. I remember my years attending UW-Madison, and the elite, world-recognized professors I had the privilege to study under. I remember a childhood where every vocation, every passion, was encouraged — not just those that made “sense”/​cents.
“Now, every one of those institutions is on the chopping block or threatened with fiscal starvation. And when they fail, as they will, profiteers will buy for a pittance what were once invaluable jewels in a commonwealth we all owned, as Wisconsinites, unified and unseparated by politics.
“I believe I share the same qualities as almost all Wisconsinites, conservative or liberal. I believe in kindness and hard work and decency and respect. But these are all qualities that are in diminishing supply right now in Wisconsin. It is as if we have exhausted all the kindness in our state, and all the decency. 
“We quickly loot our natural resources, stripping the land of what topography there is. We insult our teachers. We allow our university system to decay, our educators to be stolen by other states and schools. Our legislators regularly give no time for public comment or feedback before thrusting a new bill upon us. It is as if they don’t care about what once was. They seem interested in conserving nothing, plowing maniacally ahead with little heed to their so-called love of institutions, history and incremental change.”