As the upcoming recall election approaches, Wisconsin Democrats are looking for change in the form of a promising candidate for governor. Although many feel their intentions for doing so are reasonable, the reality of Wisconsin’s political predicament dictates that the mere election of a new, more liberal governor is not likely to turn the tables for politics in the state of Wisconsin.
A recent article by Paul Fanlund in The Cap Times titled “Madison 360: As Governor, Herb Kohl Could Heal Wisconsin” casts the inherent deficiency of the Democratic approach into apparent relief. The title of the article alone suggests there exists a known healing agent for Wisconsin’s present state of malaise. In accordance with the message conveyed by the title, the article essentially argues Kohl could be the remedy necessary to resolve Wisconsin’s ever-declining political situation if he would be willing to run against Gov. Scott Walker in the recall election.
Regardless of whether or not Kohl agrees to embrace a candidacy for governor, it is apparent Wisconsin Democrats are vesting too much faith in the possibility that any candidate can resolve Wisconsin’s current state of affairs by simply implementing more liberal policies.
At the root of the state’s dilemma is a deep partisan division. However, even more deeply rooted is the fact that the most pervasive political issues are not partisan at all, but rather universal. Issues including education, poverty, unemployment and state finances are plaguing the state as a whole, and it is compromise rather than competition that is necessary to resolve them.
The problems facing Wisconsin are far more complex than liberal cohorts seem to realize. Wisconsin politics have become a partisan battlefield on which the opponents are willing to utilize whatever means necessary to achieve the satisfaction of their own interests. As a state, coming to terms with this actuality is the first critical step in the process toward achieving unified resolutions to problems that are collectively hindering state progress.
Although their concerns about Walker’s administration are legitimate, liberal Democrats are undoubtedly seeking a candidate they believe can facilitate significant change consistent with their own economic and political interests. However, by seeking a left-leaning candidate, they are only deepening the already existing partisan divide. If there is one thing we have learned from the Walker administration, it is that universal issues cannot be resolved with conservative measures alone.
In the same vein, imposing liberal policies as a means of resolving these concerns is arguably an equally non-pragmatic approach. The proverb “Two wrongs don’t make a right” comes to mind, for Democrats are essentially seeking to remedy a dilemma fueled by partisanship with liberal policy falling on an extreme end of the political spectrum. Well intentioned or not, the implementation of non-moderate policies will ensure partisanship remains inextricably woven into the political fabric of Wisconsin.
There is undoubtedly no perfect solution to this quandary. However, recognizing there is no “ultimate cure” to Wisconsin’s political problems is a positive place to begin. It is no shock whatsoever that a political party will pursue goals in its own interest, but in this case it does not resolve the problem.
The true remedy for Wisconsin’s state of affairs is to find a moderate point of convergence, or a point at which politicians and constituents can reach compromises that are focused on fairly resolving issues that affect everyone. In other words, a willingness to work together honestly and openly, with the best interests of all Wisconsin citizens in mind, must be embraced on both ends of the political spectrum in order to bring about universal resolutions to the state’s abundant challenges.
Hannah Sleznikow ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in political science.