Sunday Morning~ Three Point Five

Sunday Morning ~ Three Point Five

Green Lake, Wisconsin

…long-term change never comes with submission, resignation, or despair about the inevitability and intractability of the status quo.  ~Erica Chenoweth

October 7, 2018

On Saturday morning, walking around Milwaukee, I came across this historical marker:

The Rescue of Joshua Glover

Joshua Glover was a runaway slave who sought freedom in Racine in 1852. In 1854, his Missouri owner used the Fugitive Slave Act to apprehend him. This 1850 law permitted slave catchers to cross state lines to capture escaped slaves. Glover was taken to Milwaukee and imprisoned. 

Word spread about Glover’s incarceration and a great crowd gathered around the jail demanding his release. They beat down the jail door and released Joshua Glover. He was eventually escorted to Canada and safety.

The Glover incident helped to galvanize abolitionist sentiment in Wisconsin. This case eventually led the state supreme court to defy the federal government by declaring the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Like most people I know, I’ve been in a dazed stupor trying to grasp what has become of our nation. Injustice is nothing new in this country. Our past makes the recent violation of human rights seem rather quaint. We’ve all got lists and lists of examples of it in the workplace, the athletic field, bedroom, wherever. We’ve been socialized to tolerate it. Every new travesty seems like a an unstoppable steamroller flattening a country I’d wanted to love.

Midwives have been tolerating this crap for generations trying to advocate for decent care for women. In the male dominated, money grubbing system, we fight, work, despair, and burn out. Witnessing abuse of the women we care for by those in power is just another day. I quit my job over it, did a TED talk about it, and scream about it almost every day of my life. But it goes on.

Several years ago the community hospital where I worked hired a male doctor to join the medical staff, one who would be part of the women’s health team. Until then, it was me and Mary, a family practice doctor, sharing the responsibility for women’s health and maternity care. When new-guy Mike came on board our cesarean section rate tripled. We complained. Not all of these surgeries were medically necessary! But he brought revenue to the hospital and wealth to himself, so who cared if women suffered for it? Mike blatantly sexually harassed nurses and patients while blatantly flaunting medical protocols. He altered medical records to support his actions, and administration refused to act on it. We provided evidence, we begged medical staff to support us, we went through all the standard processes of the sham they call peer review. He continued to practice abusing women in the name of medicine. Many on the medical staff knew it but refused to speak out. Mary spent years trying to get him removed from the staff and was crucified for it. It took a huge personal toll on her. I quit my job over it. This is the crap we’ve dealt with. A male physician is allowed to continue to practice having knowingly committed a felony (altering medical records), lying pathologically when confronted (including to administrators who acknowledged they were lies), and basically mutilating women for money. Ho hum. Just our medical system. He was finally fired when (oh surprise!) one of the older white males on staff finally spoke up, but that was probably more because he was worried the hospital would get sued than to advocate for the women he was harming. This reprehensible doctor was finally arrested for wife battering and his career finally ruined. Poor thing. And was there an apology from administration for not believing us and letting it go on as long as it did? That would be no. The powerful never admit they’ve made a mistake. 

So, yes, the socialization continues. We live with it until some undefined breaking point when the powerful go just a bit too far. I despair and try not to lose hope or energy thinking more about immigrating than fighting when I find inspiration in a historical marker.

Three. point. five. percent. Historically no regime has survived a resistance of more than 3.5% of it’s population. None. Not the worst dictators in the world. It’s possible. We’ve got eleven million people willing to rise up and resist, but it must be sustained and we can’t lose hope. What would that be in Maine to bring down Susan Collins (or whoever she is now)? Three hundred thousand or so? We can do this. No more begging her not to sell us out. No more throwing up in my mouth while thanking her for a rare vote that actually reflected a shred of humanity. Jesus.( As if preserving health care for her constituents shouldn’t have been a no-brainer.) I’m done wasting my time with her. No more begging and pleading to stand up for decency. I’ll focus my energy supporting those who will bring down these motherfuckers while we still have something left of our judicial system.

So I’ve been researching the 3.5% rule. Here are some basic principles: 

  1. We can’t give up.
  2. We must show up and get others to show up.
  3. We must have a common cause and focus on it. Right now it is taking back the house and senate for the democrats, no matter how flawed you believe their tactics. We’ll hold their feet to the fire but we must get them in.
  4. We must persuade others to this cause.
  5. We must be willing to volunteer and utilize our strengths in different areas.
  6. We must not lose hope even when there are setbacks like this week.

Onward. Come with me. There is safety in numbers.


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