What I am about to say isn't for people like me. It's not for the Madison liberals, or even for Middleton liberals.
It's for the people who voted for Scott Walker in 2010. And in 2012.
It's for people who supported of Act 10 but maybe aren't as crazy about some of the other legislation that's come out over the last few years.
If this covers you or someone you know, it's worth your time to consider supporting Mary Burke.
I understand that I am wildly opinionated, and have a distinct political perspective. I've spent four years co-writing a cartoon with the central thesis that "Paul Soglin's mustache is funny and Scott Walker is not a very good guy."
Still, hear me out.
Scott Walker has been playing 50% + 1 politics in this state for his entire term. If he has a slight majority on his side, he's happy. And I could see how, if you were among that majority, you would be happy too.
But, if Walker is reelected, he's not going to play 50% + 1 politics anymore. He's going to be playing 6.5% politics and 17.6% politics. Those were the 2012 turnout rates in the Republican presidential primaries in Iowa and South Carolina, respectively.
Should he be reelected, Walker's presidential ambitions mean that his focus will turn even more towards Iowa and fundraisers across the nation, and not on the people of Wisconsin. His agenda for the state, public pronouncements and stated support for policies will almost entirely be based on an attempt to buff up his cred among the out-of-state Republican partisan voters and donors who participate in those primaries. Wisconsinites will be his resume, not his constituents.
For example, take a look at Walker's refusal to take federal Medicaid expansion funds in Wisconsin. That money already comes from us as federal taxpayers, and yet we are getting nothing in return. The enrollment numbers show nearly 60% of the 68,000 people who were kicked off BadgerCare did not get new insurance in the marketplace; many of them would have been covered by the federal Medicaid dollars. Even if some of those 60% have found private coverage elsewhere, there are still a lot of Wisconsinites who have lost health coverage.
We are paying for the health care of people in Iowa and Michigan while our fellow Wisconsinites have to go to the emergency room, a situation in which we still end up picking up the tab. Walker assumed a political stance that makes him look good to dedicated Republicans, but everybody has to pay the bill for his politics.
Walker's flip on Common Core is another example of electioneering over governance. A wave of governors, all of whom are interested in running for President, happen to have the idea that they should repeal Common Core in their state. But it's not like any of them plan to make significant improves on the national plan. If we follow Indiana's example, the new state standards would be nearly identical to the Common Core standards they'd replace. Seriously, some of Indiana's standards are straight-up copy and pasted out of Common Core. It's all a lot of sound and fury, wasting our state's and our schools' time and resources, just to score a political point.
Meanwhile, if Mary Burke is elected, Walker's fiscal actions are simply not going to go away. Act 10's pay cuts will stay in place, for which Burke has even declared her support. Taxes will not go up. The governor's office does not operate in a vacuum. Thanks to gerrymandered legislative maps, there is no conceivable way the Republicans lose the Assembly before the year 2022. Any liberal policies that Burke would want to enact would have no chance of making through that body.
Our state won't experience a whiplash to an overwhelming progressive government the same way there's already been a massive shift to the right. Burke will have to be pragmatic, like Tommy Thompson was during the times when Democrats controlled one or both houses of the Legislature. A divided government is one that has to be about common ground -- the Legislature and governor would have to focus on actually creating jobs because each side would know their social policies aren't going anywhere.
You and I may disagree on what's been happening in Wisconsin over the last four years, but I believe we can all find a path forward together.