Trump Michels Rally 080522 additions 49-08062022151824 (copy)

Candidate for congress Derrick Van Orden addresses the audience at a rally in which former President Donald Trump endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels at the Waukesha County Expo Center on Aug. 5.

Western Wisconsin’s Derrick Van Orden wants to get into our national House of Representatives. A retired U.S. Navy SEAL and occasional actor, he made a 2020 bid to unseat 3rd Congressional District incumbent Rep. Ron Kind, garnering 49% of the vote. He has been in campaign mode the last three years and is again on the ballot in November.

Aided by the recently court-approved Republican re-gerrymander of Wisconsin’s congressional districts, and the stepping down of Kind, Van Orden is favored to win that House seat in November. In a late August poll, he led his opponent by five points.

Van Orden posted Facebook pictures to prove that he was by the Capitol on the infamous day of Jan. 6. He has denied accusations by the Daily Beast that he unlawfully breached Capitol grounds. He has yet to say whether or not he was one of those who took part in the illegal, unpermitted march from the White House to the Capitol.

Last August, Van Orden was caught by security personnel at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, airport attempting to bring a loaded 9mm Sig Sauer handgun onto an airplane. He pled guilty, paid two fines and was required to take a gun safety course. He told authorities that he had forgotten that he had the loaded gun in his bag.

On June 17, Van Orden entered the Prairie du Chien Library, where he yelled intimidatingly at a then-17-year-old female librarian in response to a Pride Month display, where he repeatedly demanded to know who set up the display so he could “teach them a lesson”.

Worst of all is an incident reported in his 2015 thinly veiled autobiography. The book itself is a study in self-adulation and toxic masculinity. The back dust jacket describes the book this way: “Stories of fist fighting, fishing, and driving fast cars are all interwoven with the principles of what used to be known as basic manhood, but has now become a lost art.”

In Chapter II, “Weapons,” Van Orden gushes for effect: “My first real weapon was a Crossman 760 Pumpmaster .177 caliber pellet/gun … when I had that war machine in my hands, I was unstoppable.”

Chapter III includes, astoundingly, a self-report of a horrific breach of privacy of a male officer, and the traumatization of two women. The incident involves a lieutenant who was being treated for a poison oak-induced massive enlargement of the scrotum.

Spotting two ensigns who “happened to be young girls in their early twenties,” Van Orden springs into action. “After walking them over to the outside of the lieutenant’s location, I whipped the curtain back. ‘Have you ever seen anything like that?’ I asked. They gasped in horror as they saw the LT (lieutenant) in all of his glory. I’m sure they never wanted to have anything to do with a man again.”

There is an alternative scenario to this individual with indecent and illegal conduct on his record becoming a federal lawmaker, but it will be an uphill battle.

Van Orden’s opponent, state Sen. and former Agriculture Secretary Brad Pfaff, has a clean record of conduct. He is progressive enough that Wisconsin’s Republican Legislature refused to confirm him as ag secretary. He is an advocate for codifying Roe v. Wade, for health care cost reduction, and for economic and mental health policies that support family farmers and others in rural communities.

If you want to have impact on this race, Brad Pfaff’s uphill battle needs financial support so that he can get his message out. For more information, and to aid this campaign that is vitally important for Wisconsin and the country, go to his website. Contributions are very much needed.

And if you live in his congressional district, vote as if the safety and security of your House depended on it. It does.

Ron Malzer is a freelance writer who lives in La Crosse.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.