Fantastic time with Republican and Democratic candidates at Drinking Liberally tonight

Remember the days when Drinking Liberally was more of a support group for battered lefties than anything else? Aye, during the Bush years, it sometimes felt necessary. Well, this time around, it’s a whole different ball game. Tonight at Milwaukee Drinking Liberally, we were graced with not one, but two candidates, and one of them was — cue dramatic music — a Republican! [NOOo!!! SCREAM!]

They were Todd Kolosso, Democratic candidate for Congress, challenging Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, and Dave Westlake, one of the Republican challengers to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.

And quite really, Dave Westlake and his campaign buddy Drew were great guests. I pitted Westlake and Kolosso in a no-holds-barred discussion-debate with each other and the attendees. Both seemed to enjoy being on the spot, airing their positions and differences, and taking questions from the crowd.

Candidates Todd Kolosso and Dave Westlake
Kolosso, on the middle-left, and Westlake, on the right. Naturally!

Much of the discussion was about actual issues, some about philosophical differences. That the men were running for totally different offices but were from opposing parties put them both in and out of competition at once. It less about proving who’s better or more suited for office than about making their cases and causes known.

Honestly, I think that both would do well in office. Now, much as I like him, I’m not going to vote for Westlake. (And I can’t vote for Kolosso, as I’m in the wrong district.) I’m pretty sure he knows that. But that wasn’t the point of his coming to Drinking Liberally. Instead, it helped us bring out discussion of politics like we have not had at D.L. in quite some time. After the ’08 election, i didn’t know what the purpose of us meeting was, other than that we’d been doing it for several years. Now, I feel like it has a purpose: enabling discussion, real discussion and comparison of views and ideologies. While Dave and Todd clearly had differences on some points, not everything was clear cut disagreement. At the same time, this was not about trying to tear someone’s head off; no one had their poisonous fangs on display. I think tonight’s event helped shape the course of our chapter of Drinking Liberally for the positive.

Milwaukee Drinking Liberally meets from 7-9PM on the third Wednesday of each month (except July) at Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee. I hope we can have more evenings with many more candidates in the future. Todd and Dave, you certainly are welcome back any time!

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

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