Walling Wisconsin: How a few strategic barriers might help the Badger state

Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to build a wall separating Mexico from America’s southern border. Gov. Scott Walker, also running for president, mused briefly about building a wall between the United States and Canada.

Before the nation spends billions of dollars on walls to protect us from people outside the United States, let’s consider the need for tighter interstate and intrastate security.

Here are a few Wisconsin walls to be considered in these dangerous times:

Between Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Yah, der hey, ‘doz Yoopers have been downright dangerous for years, ever since The Toledo War of 1835–36 set off a series of events that ceded the UP to Michigan instead of Canada or Wisconsin. Never heard of The Toledo War? It was a bloodless border conflict between Ohio and Michigan, and probably a precursor to today’s Ohio State versus Michigan football series.

Between Madison and Milwaukee: Wisconsin’s two largest cities couldn’t be much more different. Wine versus beer, brie versus cheddar, self-assured versus self-defense. Wait, I forgot … that wall already exists. It’s on I-94 near Oconomowoc. The wall itself is imaginary but has somehow remained unscaled for generations.

Between the UW–Madison campus and the rest of Madison: This wall could be erected for specific holidays, such as “Hippie Christmas” on Aug. 15. That’s when apartment move-in day ends with tons of tired sofas, busted lamps, and three-legged tables on street curbs. Another is Oct. 31, when State Street becomes a giant Halloween party. Of course, there’s every home football weekend, when parking on other peoples’ lawns becomes acceptable and even profitable.

Between Madison’s 77 square miles and reality: The late Gov. Lee Dreyfus jokingly referred to Madison as “30 miles surrounded by reality,” and the gag draws chuckles decades later. But how many square miles are actually contained within Madison’s ever-expanding borders? Estimates found in a quick Internet search range from 94.03 to 84.7 to 76.41. Perhaps the city of Madison is obscuring the true figure so contiguous Dane County suburbs don’t realize they’re being annexed, slowly but surely.

Between the state Capitol and Bascom Hill: It’s a short walk most days from the Capitol to the heart of the UW–Madison campus, but the psychological distance can be measured in time zones. Many state legislators have been unhappy with the university ever since it got caught saving money for a rainy day, which came in a downpour when the Legislature cut its budget. On the flip side, a prevailing opinion on campus is that legislators have no right telling faculty members what to do, like be accountable. A sturdy fence somewhere around Peace Park in the 400 block of State Street would likely do the trick.

Between Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton: Can anyone distinguish between where Wisconsin Dells ends and Lake Delton begins? Not me. Perhaps an appropriately designed wall would help visitors tell these vacation magnets apart. Other communities that could benefit from a “branding” wall include Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, La Crosse and Onalaska, Racine and Kenosha, and most of the Fox Valley along Highway 41.

Along Wisconsin’s Illinois border: On any summer weekend, you can watch the cars stream north on 1-94 and 1-90/39. They’re weekend travelers from The Flatlands invading Wisconsin with a vengeance — eating our food, sleeping in our beds, boating on our lakes, pumping our gas, and generally having a really good time. Okay, a Flatlander wall isn’t such a great idea for the tourism industry after all.

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