Tomorrow is the big recall election in Wisconsin. There is no need to go over the issues. If you are reading this, you already know the issues. The bigger question is, “with everyone in Wisconsin fully aware of Governor Walker’s attitudes and behaviors towards workers, what does it mean if he gets reelected”?
I speak with conservative voters on a regular basis. As an elected official, I cannot ignore my conservative constituents just because I disagree with them on issues. After all, I was elected to serve all my constituents, not just the ones I agree with. The most common statement I hear from them is, “we just can’t afford all this spending.” I always take time to politely remind them that spending creates jobs, whether in the public sector or the private sector. And I remind them that taxes are the lowest since Eisenhower was president. But this “too much spending” attitude is widely held and it tells us that we are losing the PR war on spending. This is not to say that all spending is good. Fiscal conservatism has its place. Each of us, in our personal households, has to make spending decisions and being wasteful with money is not exactly something that any of us would be proud of. But there is a time for saving and a time for spending. During a recession, you can’t simply stop spending. Just as we would at home, during times of weak revenue we pull out the credit card and we deficit spend. I think most people can understand this, but we leftists are losing the communication battle. Conservatives are consistently barraged with anti-government messages from their media outlets. The arguments are shallow but they are wide. Government is bad, spending is bad, we can’t afford unions, God bless America. They are focused and on point, and they are relentless. If Walker wins tomorrow, it will be because these attitudes are deeply engrained in a significant portion of the American population, especially in the Midwest.
This could have implications for the national election as well. Most Americans, even many liberals, believe that the main cause of the huge federal deficit is excessive spending. Yet, actual spending increases under the Obama administration have been small. Among recent presidents, it was Bill Clinton who said that the era of big government is over. Republican presidents have been the big spenders, not Democrats. So, why the huge increase in the deficit under Democrat Obama? Answer. 1. People out of work don’t pay taxes, they collect benefits. 2. Much of Obama’s stimulus package has been tax reductions, not spending increases. Together, those two factors add up to a lot of red ink. But is this message getting out? I’m afraid not. Speaker Boehner is pushing for massive spending cuts, even though he understands the implications for jobs and the economy. The ultraconservatives are driving the bus, and they are being controlled by the 1% who are getting really fat while the rest of America suffers.
I know that liberals and leftists love to make a good argument. But arguing with conservatives is a waste of time. They are limited to sound bites and labels. Whether in Wisconsin tomorrow or Washington in November, if we are going to stop our slide toward third-worldliness we will need to change the way we deliver our message.