Budget Deal, Why The Midwest Loves Polka, Domestic Violence As A Political Issue

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Is domestic violence a personal issue, or can its roots be in our politics? Our guest suggests policy changes that she says could help domestic violence victims. We also explore polka’s influence in small-town Wisconsin culture, and look at the newly announced bipartisan Federal budget deal.

Featured in this Show

  • White House And Congress Reach Tentative Budget Deal

    Congress may be closing the door on its last budget face off with President Obama. Late Monday night Congress released a two year budget negotiated by both Democrats and Republicans that would raise the borrowing limit and increase spending by $80 million.

    The deal would avert a debt default that the Treasury Department said would happen by November 3rd. It also clears the way for likely-Speaker-to-be Paul Ryan to focus on issues other than spending as he prepares to lead the House.

  • Polka Heartland

    Polka is part of the cultural tradition of many of the ethnic groups that live in the Midwest. We talk about why we love to polka.

  • Domestic Violence Is Not Just A Personal Issue, It's A Political Issue

    October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and our guest says domestic violence is not just a personal issue–it’s a political one as well. She explains how the United States could change its policies to better protect victims of domestic violence.

  • Why The Midwest Loves Polka, According To One Folklorist

    In Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest, the sound of polka music is heard in church tents and football stadiums, at beer halls and weddings, and even at quinceañeras. In fact, more than any other region in the country, America’s heartland loves to dance to the oompah-pahs of the squeezebox.

    From Germans and Poles to the Croatians and Mexicans, the polka is part of the cultural tradition of many ethnic groups who live in the Midwest. Folklorist and musician Rick March has been a part of the Midwest polka scene for more than 30 years, and has a theory on why the dance and music remains a strong cultural tradition here.

    “I think it’s because in the Midwest, ethnicity has remained a part of our consciousness,” he said. “Unlike the bicoastal zones, the Midwest culture isn’t like, We have to be cutting edge.’ We can stick with heritage.”

    March said a chronicle of polka culture in the Midwest has been long overdue, which is why he set out to write the recently published “Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka.” The book tells how polka has been deemed immoral throughout history, and even banned from the halls of royalty. Its popularity ebbed and flowed over the centuries in other parts of the world, but March said it never receded here in the Midwest. He sees it as part of the region’s DNA.

    “Whether you’re into polka particularly or not, it’s one of the symbols of us,” he said. “We say, ‘It reminds me of my dad or grandpa.’ You may not dance it for years but then you go to that wedding and even if it’s a modern wedding with a DJ, he’s got that polka record to put on during a certain point during the wedding dance.”

    While the hair color of those on the polka dance floor is transitioning to a shade of gray, March said a new generation of people are picking up the accordion and tuba to keep the music alive, especially among Latinos here in the United States. In some communities, said March, polka will die down — but it will never die out.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Peter Singer Guest
  • Paul Singer Guest
  • Rick March Guest
  • Kathleen Arnold Guest

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