Empower Wisconsin | March 5, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The resistance group opposed to F-35 fighter jets coming to Madison’s Truax Field includes the usual grab bag of radicals. You know, the kind of liberals that make up the political base of Wisconsin junior U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Not this time.
The No F-35 Fighter Jets in Madison group discussion page is filled with loathing for Baldwin’s position as “a leading advocate” for the U.S. Air Force basing the squadron of next-generation fighter jets in Madison.
“Baldwin. Progressive turned militarist. This is our one chance to give her the business before the decision,” wrote a group member last month. The call was for a “noisy picket” outside Baldwin’s public birthday fundraiser on Feb. 15 at Cargo Coffee on East Washington Ave.
The protesters are now protesting Baldwin.
The site, populated by members of Safe Skies Clean Water, is replete with letters to editors of local newspapers and articles opposing the introduction of the F-35s. Prominently placed on the site, a piece from the liberal publication Isthmus on Christmas Eve labelling Baldwin the Militarist of the Year.
“Never mind that Baldwin purports to be a ‘progressive fighter for Wisconsin.’ On this issue, she’s just another devotee of the military-industrial complex. Sad,” the Isthmus opined.
Baldwin has never been confused with a congressional hawk. Neither has U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) But the Democratic Socialist presidential candidate threw his support behind bringing F-35 Lightning II fighter jets to the Air National Guard Base at Burlington, Vt.’s international airport.
Sanders and Baldwin know what opponents don’t care to consider. First, they are senators for their entire states, not just their liberal hometowns. At least they know that politically. They also know the positive impacts. An F-35 squadron for the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing will boost the local economy — about $100 million annually for Madison. It means scores of construction jobs. More so, it means the Air Force would be less likely to shut down its Air National Guard operations anytime soon, making Madison a base of air operations for many years to come.
Truax is the Air Force’s preferred choice, with a final decision expected to be made by the end of the month.
The folks that want local, state and federal officials to oppose the F-35’s in Madison have supported Baldwin at the polls and in her liberal positions — on everything from abortion to big-government spending on social programs. But they part ways with big-government spending for the fighter jets, estimated to cost $90 million a pop.
They insist the increased noise from the F-35s will be too much to take, particularly for hundreds of people, according to the Environmental Impact Statement, who live in housing that is “incompatible” with the louder jets. They fear environmental impacts, drawing from the absolute worst-case scenarios, as liberals often do. But incompatible is not uninhabitable and supporters say the addition comes with far more benefits than drawbacks for the Madison region and Wisconsin as a whole.
One thing this direct democracy group doesn’t tolerate is dissension from opponents of their opposition.
“I think it is disgusting how your group misstates some of this information to scare the crap out of people,” wrote a commenter on Oct. 22. “Changing to the F35 will not make children deaf or stupid and will not reduce air or water quality … If you would try to discuss issues honestly and not emotionally you may actually solve a problem rather than just scare people.”
A group member alerted the others that “at least one pro-F-35 and pro-military person has joined the discussion.”
“I just want to say that I can’t think of any good reason we would want to waste our precious time responding to this person. If you care to do so, I would suggest you adopt him as a pen pal and carry on a private conversation,” the member advised.
F-35 photo courtesy of DonkeyHokey.