Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Issue #11

What This Is…
Issue #11- July 13, 2011 Election Results and another Question

Election Results…
The primary election results look to have come out favorably.  The closest race was Moore’s with a 54/46 split.  Shilling had the largest lead 70/30.  None of the other elections were very close with the 4 real Democrats pulling 65% or more of the vote.  I am assuming that these results will hold and we will be set up for the recalls to take place as they should have without this set of extra elections.

These primaries are small step in reassuring us that the election process can be trusted.  However, I know that many of us fear the upcoming general elections will be tainted by big money and dirty politics.  The Kloppenburg vote is still fresh in our minds and we need to be vigilant as we move farther in the recall process.  Our presence in the electoral process is vital to maintaining the integrity of our government.       
“United” States of America…
I keep hearing the same questions from friends and family. “Why is this happening?” and “How can people not see the flaws in the Republican’s logic?” are common sentiments that I’ve heard expressed.  It seems so obvious to many of us that the Walker agenda doesn’t really solve Wisconsin’s problems and actually causes more damage to most Wisconsin citizens.  So what’s going on here?

It seems clear to me that we are becoming a state (and nation) where there are distinctly different views of what government should be.  The two views have become mutually exclusive and create an atmosphere where discussion becomes difficult (or even impossible).  I’m usually not one to view the world in such black and white terms, but one look at our current political situation makes it clear that this is what we’ve been reduced to.

I see this division as one that centers on a basic way of responding to problems and working to solve the issues that face us as a group of citizens.  When faced with a crisis one group looks inward and attacks the problem from an individual and private person’s perspective.  In this view each person should look out for themself and the individual’s rights are valued above the collective whole.  The second perspective looks to work collectively to solve the problems and relies on group efforts and sharing of burdens to achieve the best possible result. 

I know where I stand on the political spectrum, but am open to listening to other views.  What is very troubling is the fact that we seem to be more divided than ever in our efforts to solve the problems we face.  With all the rhetoric and negative talk going on our political landscape resembles the mid-1800’s when slavery divided our country.  The question is, can we actually hear each other, or have our political views blinded us to all other opinions?  The fear and anger being expressed is counterproductive and creates divisions where unity is needed.  

It also creates an environment where specific groups are targeted for blame or even singled out for political purposes.  Thus, public employees are vilified and labeled as a primary cause of our state’s problems.  Wealthy corporate executives are touted as the potential saviors of our economy.  The reality clearly lies somewhere in between, but because of a lack of accurate information is not easy for most citizens to form informed opinions. 

This lack of communication further drives people apart.  More and more people are turning away from media outlets that offer multiple perspectives and are relying on sources that validate their pre-existing ideas.  This results in an increasingly divided population that has no way of comparing their thinking to others with different opinions.  Because we as a state can’t discuss our issues with an open mind we become closed off to any other ways of solving our problems.

We don’t seem to be speaking the same language when it comes to economics and politics.  Terms like “shared sacrifice” have taken on totally different meanings for the different political groups.  As we listen to our political leaders speak we translate their words to fit our perceptions of reality.  This is always true, but in a politically charged atmosphere like this one, lack of a common language creates even more division.  If words mean totally different things to different people communication is challenging, if not impossible.  

The communication gap results in more fear, anger and dislike directed at people with differing opinions.  Read the chats after news articles relating to any of our current legislation and note the lack of respect that people have for each other.  The terms and language used is very aggressive and closed minded. 

This divisiveness is more threatening to our democracy than any budget crisis or any other challenge (domestic or international).  If we can’t talk about our problems in a rational and productive manner are we still a United States of America?  Are we headed towards something entirely different?

Upcoming Events…
Don’t forget about the MTI Thursday phone bank night at the Labor Temple.  There will be recall canvassing road trips this weekend as well.  Keep an eye out for opportunities to volunteer your time and energy towards reclaiming Wisconsin.

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