There was a time when, asked by people where I came from, I used to look away and mumble Mason City, Iowa. I would then quickly point out that it was the home of Meredith Willson, who wrote “Music Man” and hoped that that gave me some increased stature in the eyes of the asker. Today, if I can trust the papers and the commentary on the news stations, coming from the heartland carries with it a badge of honor.
Two serious Presidential candidates are from Minnesota and one, from Iowa recently picked up his hat from the ring. The pluck of Iowans coping with floods is passed through the internet as a symbol of strength, determination and independence. But the true pride, the backbone of the distinction comes from the Governors, and Wisconsin, where I am presently vacationing and Minnesota are examples of why.
I asked my brother-in-law, who used to be in the Wisconsin Assembly to explain to me, why. After all, they had five recall elections just last week.
Dave said, while the elections were a disappointment to the Republican Party, and by inference to Governor Walker, the good news was in the one election expected to be the most closely contested, only 18% of the electorate showed up and almost half of those voted Republican. Hardly a definitive sign that the Governor will be recalled in 2012.
Of course the reason for the recalls was the battle a few months ago to break the teacher’s union. If you remember the entire Democratic side of the Assembly mysteriously disappeared when a vote was needed to decide if the state could financially support the existing contracts. Ultimately the bill was passed without Democratic support and a court challenge, which originally said the bill was unconstitutional, was reversed on appeal. Read this article: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/07/wisconsin-schools-buck-union-cut-health-costs
And in Minnesota, government closed for two weeks.
What is important about that is that in at least seven states the Governors have taken a stand that they are going to have to face the budget crisis of their states. Many have rebelled against the trickle down financial responsibility that passed costs for Medicaid and other entitlements from 50% of something affordable to a budget-crunching, staggering, unaffordable burden. Many passed part of the burden down to the Counties. In California that started another rebellion. Where will it end?
There are clear signs that the public is ready for compromise beyond what the politicians have stomach for. If in fact the public response at the polls in 2012 may well see the pubic demanding a more compromise-related government, the results may see a more central-directed electorate. I have had a party affiliation for half a century and have financially supported candidates personally and though various PACs. I have no appetite for that support at this time, and I do not feel I am alone.
To watch a state fall to its knees for two weeks is sobering. To watch an assembly abrogate its responsibilities by leaving caucus for two weeks is inexcusable. To watch a nation skirt to the brink of financial default is appalling. Government and politics are twins, joined at the hip, but politics has seized the breast and threatens the survival of its twin.
Next post I’ll lighten up and tell you why pork barrels have become a new buzz word.