Channeling 'Fighting Bob' La Follette: An interview with Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin.

AuthorLueders, Bill

I've known Tammy Baldwin for more than thirty years, since I was a reporter at a local weekly newspaper and she was a member of the Dane County Board, representing a district in Madison, Wisconsin. I covered her races for state assembly beginning in 1992, and her election in 1998 as the first woman from Wisconsin and the first openly gay person from anywhere elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served six terms. In 2012, she became the first out lesbian to be elected to the U.S. Senate, and was handily reelected last fall.

Throughout her career, Democrat Baldwin has worked to improve the lives of her constituents, at times by making common cause with Republicans. She has fought for better health care and employment opportunities for veterans, sought increased federal funding to fight the opioid crisis, championed affordable health care, and worked to save federal Forest Service jobs in Wisconsin. She has a rating of 100 percent from Planned Parenthood and a score of "F" from the National Rifle Association.

Baldwins Madison office is by chance located on the same floor of the same building as The Progressive, but our recent conversation took place by phone, with Baldwin in Washington, D.C.

Q: I know you hear often from constituents who are appalled by Donald Trump and what he is doing to our courts, our environment, and our democratic norms. What do you say to them?

Tammy Baldwin: First of all, I always ask people to engage, to stay active, to be advocates, to speak out, to be visible on issues, and to not give up on our democracy. We've seen this President take so many steps backward on LGBTQ civil rights, but I often remind people how long that arc is, that its been fifty years since the beginning of the modern day LGBTQ civil rights movement, and it was really only [in recent years] that we made such incredible progress. This is a long game, not a short game.

Q: Is Donald Trump, in your opinion, a racist?

Baldwin: He has said such harmful words that have deepened divisions based on race, divisions based on religion, divisions based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He's not somebody who is a leader in unifying in any way, and so it's been horrendous.

Q: Do you support his impeachment?

Baldwin: I certainly read the Mueller Report as having very serious information [on] ten instances in which he lied, told somebody to lie, told somebody else to fabricate a document, and interfered with the Mueller investigation...

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