Summerfest crowd

Last week we took our kids to see Danny Gokey at the Summer Fest grounds on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee.

While the Gokey has a great voice and a powerful story, the free “mini-concert” was not the big draw for us. We were primarily excited for our city, and wanted our kids to join in the fun.

Sure enough, the air was electric! There were thousands of people crowding the stage, holding signs, yelling, and waiting for their hometown hero!

Then something killed the moment.

After a few words from the event sponsors ($), two prominent government officials addressed the crowd. The officials seemed appropriate – The Mayor of the City of Milwaukee and the Executive of Milwaukee County. Gokey’s success (and the national media attention) was exciting for the city and the county.

Oh yeah, one of the officials is a Democrat and the other a Republican.

And this is what changed the mood of the event: the response of the crowd to the polititians.

The crowd apeared to be evenly divided when the officials were introduced. When the Democrat was introduced about half cheered and half booed. Then when the Republican was introduced the other half cheered and the other half booed.

How sad is that? We were there to celebrate Gokey (OUR hero) and Milwaukee (OUR city), and then OUR partisan bitterness killed the party.

That is a clear illustration of what bitter partisanship does to our nation, our states, and our communities. I dare say it is killing any remaining civility in our society. We do not come together. We just boo each other.

And what does this bitter partisanship teach our children?

At the Gokey rally I saw children participating in the boo-fest! Many of these were young children wearing school shirts and hats from outside of the county. I doubt that they knew much about the social-political complexities facing Milwaukee. They were simply booing a person based on the political party.

Do we really think that is healthy for our children?

I believe that we need to teach our children to be well informed and to think for themselves on issues. We need to teach them to respect people they disagree with and to work together for the common good.

The best way to teach our children is to model those things.

If we do not, then we will ruin much more than a music party.