Lets be honest and say Wisconsin has never before been in such a dismal place, politically speaking. There is a cut-throat mentality at play, and the anger among the electorate is so intense that it does at times feel like an electrical surge.
But come Tuesday voters will have a choice to make. The election will mean more than just what course this state will take over collective bargaining, jobs, and education. Also at issue is the way this state will need to move forward towards healing the political divide that seems an almost insurmountable task as of this writing.
I am proud to say that I was able to work in the legislature at a time when passionate differences would take place in the committee rooms during the day, but come the evening folks would put their difference aside for beer and a game of darts, or dinner. Today the acrimony transcends decency, manners, and the long-term needs to a functioning government. That is not good for the process of government, and certainly not what the electorate deserves from those who take an oath of office.
The discord comes from both parties.
While there is certainly more than enough blame to lay at the feet of Scott Walker for his actions, no one can excuse the bad behavior (for instance) of Assembly Democrats when shouting “shame” on the floor as the GOP members exited. There are, after all, some rules of decorum that need to be applied, regardless of the circumstances. When it comes to blame for the state of our crippled governing process, and the lack of civility there needs to be recognition it comes from all quarters.
Far too often the excesses of each party has diminished the role of the moderate voices such as Republican State Senator Dale Schultz, and his Democratic counterpart Tim Cullen. It was not so long ago that men and women of this core center of politics made the deals so the larger needs of government and state policy could move forward. Now instead of good faith bargaining there is a general sense of distrust, and a high level of animosity among the legislators.
The source for much of the discord in this state is that too many young zealots with too little practical experience at bridge-building are in charge. Not only are these ‘young turks’ serving in elected office, but they also are in positions of power in legislative offices, political parties, and special interest groups. Collectively it all leads to a fractured and highly charged style of politics which created the recall election.
But somewhere, and somehow after the recall there needs to be an end to the discord. There needs to be a closing of the chasm in our state politics, and an end to the blood-letting.
I frankly do not see how that can be achieved if Scott Walker is not recalled. Unless there is a ‘Saul was blinded by the light’ moment for Walker there is no way for the state to mend. I sincerely do not–and this comment transcends my political differences over policy I have with Walker–believe he has the ability to stitch back the fabric of our politics.
But mend we must. Out state can not move forward in a constructive fashion with a continued ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.
There are policy decisions that need to be made, including the mining bill that I strongly feel can be completed so to accommodate both the environmental needs and business concerns. In addition there must be–as soon as possible–a capital venture bill that gets to the governor’s desk for his signature. That our governmental system is so dysfunctional that these matters can not be reconciled speaks volumes about the need to heal the breach.
As we ponder all the issues in the final hours leading to the recall, and calculate the politics, let us give some thought as how best to aim for a more civil-minded government where folks can disagree but also have a deep understanding we still must move forward as a state.