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I just read about the decision to NOT cancel Hodag Country Fest this July during a global pandemic

Kirk Bangstad

I just read about the decision to NOT cancel Hodag Country Fest this July during a global pandemic in which Wisconsin’s number of infections is still on the rise. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or laugh for the first minute and then cry the rest of the summer.

Given this unreal decision, I’m going to try to be more generous to local officials than many others would. I don’t think this decision is entirely their fault. It’s much bigger than them. Please follow my logic.


Trump thinks opening the economy is only way to get re-elected. He’s not wrong.

Trump changes narrative to pit economy vs. health, a false choice but one now trumpeted by every right wing news outlet including Fox. Now you have people purposefully not wearing masks and repeating the dangerous talking points “you can stay home if you’re scared, let’s focus on herd immunity, I’m not going to be a sheep.”

Mainstream media covers re-open rallies that are not representative of the majority of people who take this seriously, thus amplifying a false conflict and calling into question the seriousness of the disease.

Republican legislators in Wisconsin, because they’ve seen how the Trump base will turn on them if they don’t follow the narrative, and know that they can weaken their democratic governor by being on the “side” of the unemployed, when in truth we should all be fighting this disease on a unified front, re-open Wisconsin without a plan, thus re-enforcing the message that Covid-19 is not really dangerous.

Wisconsin still doesn’t have many cases relative to larger urban states, so it’s hard for many to “see” the danger of Covid-19, although the US is seeing a rise in infections In rural states, and although the death toll will surpass the flu by an order of magnitude.


Local officials are being told by their President, their state legislature, their media (if they consume right-wing media), and their own current regional reality of relatively few instances of disease that Covid-19 is at best nothing serious, and a worst a “hoax.”

Can we blame them for deciding not to cancel Hodag Country fest? Yes, but not entirely, and the pressure on them is probably immense.

But more forcefully, we can blame Trump and our State Legislature who follows the Trump narrative that keeps them in office and pads their wallets and the wallets of their political donors.

We can take both of them out in the Northwoods this November. Vote AGAINST Trump and Rob Swearingen, and vote for reality-based leadership, not decisions based on a con to hold onto power.

If you agree, please share with any senior citizens that you love that have the most to lose if we continue to make decisions that don’t take this virus seriously.

Written by Kirk Bangstad on 05/27/20

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