It was never going to happen.
That was a fact, given the first words from the Air Force many weeks back when requested for an F-35 jet to land and take off from Truax Field in Madison. Still, there were those politicians who played to the public while knowing what the outcome would be.
I grasp the ‘need’ for elected officials to demonstrate they hear constituents’ concerns about a host of public issues. But I also come from a background where being candid and mature with voters shows a deeper level of respect for the ones who cast a ballot ‘back home’.
Congressman Mark Pocan has stated his support for the proposed idea of F-35 jets being stationed at Truax. Just this week he underscored in a town hall meeting the importance of the jets for Truax. He well knows the economic might of these jets, and all the residual impact on the region. But Pocan still went through the motions of making a public request for the Air Force to fly in one of the new tech-heavy jets.
This week, after the public comment period was lengthened by 30 days, the Air Force alerted Pocan his request was denied. It came as no shock to his office, nor to the congressman. I am sure, however, there are many in the area that fumed and stamped feet upon hearing the news.
Pocan should have just been upfront and told his constituents that there was no reason to ask for a demonstration so to compare with the F-16 jets at the airfield. Being candid with voters might seem like political jeopardy to some, but it also might mean voters are treated like adults who can handle the lay of the land. Whatever the contours might look like.
Pocan is most correct to have stood by the placement of the F-35 jets in Madison, just like every other elected official from both parties. I only wish he would have allowed his constituents to not feel like they are being coddled in the process.