Blame Wisconsin Voters, Not WMC
Perhaps my reaction to the news about a political ad over a proposed gas tax increase for the Badger State can be likened to the icing on the preverbal cake. I am utterly dismayed after what has been reported for months about the various races in Wisconsin and around the nation. The general electorate’s lack of awareness and civic-mindedness has left me feeling at some level we are getting the type of candidates and campaigns that we deserve.
Recently Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce started to run an ad that goes after Mark Harris, the Winnebago County Executive running for a state senate seat in the 18th district, over the idea of increasing our gas tax. The crux of the matter is that Harris had the audacity to propose a 3-cent gas tax so roads and transportation infrastructure might be adequately funded. Harris also feels that the ongoing level of borrowing which the legislature continually approves is not a responsible budgeting tool.
Since WMC is a highly partisan operation and wants as many conservatives elected in the statehouse as possible they funded an ad to undercut Harris over the needed tax increase. The irony is that WMC had already stated their approval of the gas tax increase.
I have not been a defender of WMC in the past, and this post is not in any way an effort to diminish their politicization of every issue with which they make contact. Rather I find fault with an electorate that seems to have turned against the idea of wishing to be informed about issues and instead welcomes the most base and senseless political arguments.
No one can drive down our city or rural roads, cross bridges, or exit off highway ramps and not be cognizant of the need for repairs and upgrades. No one with a drivers license can not recognize that these transportation needs cost money and they must to be paid for by the citizens of the state. To never countenance that taxes need to increase to meet the times and needs of society is simply unacceptable.
Yet that fallacy is where many of my fellow citizens reside and consider it a sound political perspective. So when the WMC steps in and plays on those feelings–even if for the most base partisan reasons–we need to ask who is to blame?
Whether the issue is about groundwater in the state, the quality of our public education system, or the fairness of our tax structure it is not as if the public lives in a vacuum. All have ample access to multiple layers of news and information and ways to become better informed citizens. Lets be honest, however, and state a large segment of the populace is not interested in discovering the facts needed to make an informed opinion. While many folks can offer insight about some obscure running back and his potential to a football team they would be left struggling with how to address in a realistic way the funding hole for our roads.
So when I read that Democrats are going after WMC for running the gas tax ad I can sympathize with the hypocrisy of the matter, but at this stage in Election 2016 I think there is a larger and more problematic matter to wrestle with, and that is the general voting electorate.
If we again taught and stressed civics in our schools, praised the value of education, and did not welcome the lowest common dominators the WMCs of the world would find they did not have so many gullible people to speak to at campaign time.
Because as it stands now I think Election 2016–as troubling as it is–is a reflection of a large swath of the electorate. It is the voters themselves who are to blame.