Looking At Tuesday Through Saturday Eyes
I try to steer clear of politics here. We have others on these pages who chum those waters 24/7.
Then again, it's hard to ignore what happened Tuesday. The unprecedented Republican sweep turned the national map red, and saw Republican Ron Johnson defeat Senator Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker's victory over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for the right to succeed Governor Jim Doyle was even more icing on top of the GOP's electoral cake. Add congressional wins by Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble in the seventh and eighth districts and, well, you get the idea.
We know what the over-riding theme of the campaign was, when candidates from both parties WEREN'T slinging mud in attack ads: it was the economy and jobs, with occasional side-debates about government intrusion and "career politicians."
Apparently, the nation is no longer at war. And, there is no terror threat, either.
Headlines suggest otherwise.
U-S combat involvement in Iraq is over but we still have thousands of troops there. And remember Afghanistan? If not, do a Google search. Better yet, see the documentary about Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death if you need to get your juices flowing. For all of our overseas involvement and patriotic stirrings on the home front, the emotional attachment of countless Americans to men and women in harm's way, seldom if ever did either conflict get raised before we voted. Can you remember seeing it as a topic in any of the countless ads that flooded the airwaves over the past 10 months?
Didn't think so.
We had another global terror scare this month, and the summer has been dotted with reports of botched schemes/freshly discovered plots, but that's a subject that also failed to find it's way into the debate. What we DIDN'T"T need to hear were accusations that either party is "soft on terror". Such allegations are tiresome and foolish. It's fear-mongering at the lowest level, a throwback to the not-so-good-old Cold War days of Moscow paranoia and fears of Commies taking over Congress. Fortunately, that debate was never enjoined. That said, the cost of continuing the fight against terror IS in play as candidates from both parties talk about managing the ocean of federal red ink. The headlines prove that our enemies aren't resting and that more resources will need to be committed to the battle. Anyone talking about how we'll pay for that in these austere times? Or, was was it easier and more strategically on-message to just run a fresh attack ad?
One thing NOT heard since the votes were counted is talk of term limits. The flood of fresh new faces into D-C (including Johnson), sometimes at the expense of familiar names and long-time Congressional veterans (such as Feingold) seems to have cooled the rhetoric about the "incumbent advantage" and "career politicians". Think the Supreme Court decision that opened the spending spigot for third-party ads had anything to do with evening the playing field? Who needs term limits when you can flood TV and radio with your particular vaguely-named political group's point of view without challenge or accountability? I've always thought the ballot box is the best way to hold the elected accountable, to remove "scoundrels" and reward those who continue to do the public's bidding instead of thinking of PAC's and lobbyists first. Doesn't the new law leave open the prospect of candidates being compromised by those who hurled big bundles of unaccounted for cash their way during the campaign? Shouldn't such donors be named publicly, so we know who's trying to buy part of Congress? That cash isn't being spent just4 because there's a "D" or an "R" next to someones name, although I'm sure that's a concern. Speech should be free, but as I wrote before: what's free about speech that's sired from a TV/radio rate card?
The election is done, and there are great problems to solve, many of them concerning our economy and the millions who are looking for work. Government is seen by many as the foe, yet there are many who are looking to Uncle Sam to create work. There are other issues to be dealt with as well, including the few I mentioned above. Tuesday showed us that the electorate is long on worry and short on patience.
Perhaps the graphic I saw constantly pasted on the screen on one of the cable news channels this week said it all:
"2012 Starts Now!"