Since the winter days of early February 2011 Wisconsin has been divided in very stark and dramatic ways. The political rhetoric has been harsh, and the game plans are no longer limited to the voting booth but now also include sing-a-longs and numerous court cases. There is no way not to be aware that something has changed in the last years in this state.
In addition to the rancor from state politics comes the unrelenting antics of Washington’s elected class that baffles and angers both sides of the aisle. When it comes to politics these days it is hard to find anyone who is happy with the headlines. Lets face it, there are lots of reasons to hate the idea of picking up the morning newspaper and scanning the front page.
That is until Tuesday morning when Wisconsinites can finally find something that has been lacking too long in this state.
When we pick up the paper off the front stoop, or at the filling station, or grab a copy as we wait for our latte to be completed I suspect there is going to be a unity in spirit that we may not think about at first, but yet all the same will be there.
Following the news from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Mary Burke it is clear the 2014 campaign season is underway. Van Hollen has announced that he not seeking a third term and Burke is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
There is no way not to miss the point that new faces are emerging to debate and tackle the issues of the day. There is a changing of the guard in the AG’s office, and the hope among Democrats for the same in the governor’s office, while Republicans will defend their incumbent.
But here among those partisan feelings is (shockingly) where the vast majority of Wisconsinites can finally agree about politics.
We need to start the beginning of the 2014 campaign season by demanding that the tone of the political dialogue meets the needs of the time in which we live. We need to be vocal when it comes to mudslinging and disapprove whenever it happens. We need to hold those who want our votes to high standards so that the policy items that need to be debated are louder than the countless ads that each campaign will try to spin off as ‘communicating with voters’.
We need to have reporters and newspapers be as vigilant about the requirements for a clean and uplifting election cycle as they are about the need for public hearings for drawing the lines for new political boundaries. When there is a need for a public rebuke there should be unified editorials statewide in newspapers addressing the candidates, and informing the electorate.
Our state has deep differences, and that can be either the end point with continued hollering and abrasive tactics, or can be the start of a robust exchange of ideas through political campaigns. I think Wisconsin is tired of yelling (and perhaps even singing) and hopes for more in-depth analysis of how we got to the point we are, and how together we can fix our problems and move forward.
That is the Wisconsin ideal. Let us set a new standard the nation will notice!