Meet Matt, our Wisconsin State Director!
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.
I was adopted from South Korea, and raised in Minnesota (both Rochester and Minneapolis). I started getting involved in politics is 2012, and really fell in love with organizing. Talking to so many people, I think the most amazing thing that I’ve found is that while we all have really personal and unique experiences, that there is a universality to it all; our experiences don’t set us apart from each other, they connect us. I’ve been moving around a lot recently, and have been really enjoying getting to meet tons of new people and see new places. This is also not my first time living near Lake Michigan; I attended DePaul University for 2 years.
Q: What specifically about Progressive Takeover appealed to you?
I love working at the state legislative level. I think that a lot of the most important decisions come from the states, and it’s also where I think we can find a lot of hope. Since 2016, over 40 legislative seats have flipped from Republican to Democrat. It’s so important that we keep that momentum up this year and beyond!
Q: What’s your most memorable experience working in politics?
It’s definitely the people you get to meet. In 2014, I had a volunteer who tore his Achilles tendon and was back canvassing a week later. That was super inspirational.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to working in Wisconsin?
Being from Minnesota, everyone here just assumes that I’m a Vikings fan, but I’m not. So, I’d say it’s overcoming that Minnesota stereotype and the animosity associated with it. I am, however, a huge Cubs fan.
Q: Who inspires you in politics and why?
The people who get active. Whether it be a volunteer who is sick of the status quo, or a new organizer who can’t stand by idly anymore, or a candidate who wants to change things from the inside, I admire people who have come to the realization that politics isn’t something that happens to you, you can be actively involved in choosing who makes the decisions, and how the decisions are made.
Q: If you could have dinner with one former President, who would it be and why?
Bill Clinton is definitely a hero of mine. There have been so many stories about how he is able to be conversationally literate about almost any topic, so the the conversation would never get dull. And, while I definitely admire him, he also made some mistakes as well, so I’d hope to talk about those too.
Q: Other than voting, what is one of the the issues that you’re interested in?
I’m really passionate about the environment. By most accounts, climate change has already claimed its first fatality. It really feels like the current Republican stance is that since we don’t have a guaranteed way we can solve the issue cheaply and without affecting anyone’s bottom line, then it’s not an issue worth addressing. I can’t believe that this became a partisan issue in the first place, but it’s something that we all need to address together, now.
Q: If you could ask President Trump one thing, what would it be?
While I’ve often been frustrated about decisions made by the Trump Administration, I expected to be frustrated a lot when he got elected. The most alarming thing to me is that he seems to be making decisions that impact the whole country much in the same way he runs his Twitter account; on a whim. I just need to know that he is taking the job seriously, and he understands that his words and actions have nation-wide consequences.
Q: What would you say to anyone who feels defeated or cynical by the state of our politics?
I’d say that politics isn’t a one-off thing. It changes constantly, and that all actions, both voting, and not voting, have consequences. We all had a part in electing our current leaders, and we will all have a part in electing our future ones. I would also strongly dissuade those people from even entertaining the idea of not voting as a sign of protest. There is no minimum number of votes someone has to have to get elected. Someone will be elected to every position whether 10% of the country votes or 100%.
Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest lessons the left should learn from 2016?
We still have a lot of work to do. I think it’s important to say that in the midst of all the Facebook posting and protesting, that the way people get elected is through voting. Is letting everyone know how outraged we are enough, or are we going to make the changes we want to see? The only way to do the second option is to first get elected, and for that, we need everyone who shares our values to vote.
Q: What’s something on your bucket list?
The last time I was in Paris, I didn’t even make it to the first level of the Eiffel Tower because I am terrified of heights. If I ever make it back to Paris I am going all the way to the top! Also, skydiving, again because of the conquering my fear of heights thing, but I think before I do that one I should knock everything else off of my bucket list first 🙂
Q: Finally, now that you’re in Wisconsin, what’s your favorite cheese?
While I think that most cheeses have an appropriate time and place, my go-to is definitely pepper-jack.