Citizen Wausau

A Site About Life in Wausau, Wisconsin

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12 Inches Tall

by on October 27th, 2010

Let me start off by saying, I love public policy — truly love it.  I have a printed three copies of the Health Care Reform Bill, and I keep it as a momento.  I read public policy briefs everyday.  I love that public policy is the glue that drives this country.

Let me also confess that 2010 is the first year I have grown tired of politics. I started keeping every piece of mail that was issue or campaign based somewhere around the time I heard Dave Obey (a man I am giant fan of so we are all clear) was choosing not to run again.  Today the stack crossed the 12-inch-tall piled-up threshold.  This does not account for all the emails, Facebook messages, Twitter messages, and phone calls.  It does not count all the television ads that left me wishing I could see an ad for Marriott Hotel, or Tony Little’s investment strategy.

I was amazed at the amount of outside money that came into Wisconsin from the Sean Duffy side of the aisle early on.  Then, I was surprised by the stuff from the Julie Lassa side.  Not stuff really from them directly, but from those special interest groups like the Republican Governors Association, the Democratic Kettle Corn Club, or that Independent Farmers of Rosholt Kabal.  I was just sort of amazed.

I knew early on who I was voting for.  I have two key issues, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet with everyone running, and ask them very specific questions.  I got answers that I knew were made up, and then I got answers that I did not agree with, then I got answers that indicated that the candidate had no idea what I was talking about, and then I got answers I agreed with.  If a candidate did not have an answer, 100-percent of the time someone took my information, and 100-percent of the time the candidate called me directly and spoke to me and gave me a direct answer.

That was cool.  Politics is retail, even now.

But, as I sat watching the Duffy-Lassa debate tonight, and more so watching Feingold-Johnson the other night, I felt like I was drowning.  There were negative ads that ran during debates about the candidates in the debate.  I just thought it was too much.

Then I would turn on the television and see Christine O’Donnell doing and saying the strangest things, or Carl Paladino doing so many things that you had to shake your head at.  I would watch Sean Hannity and listen to him go on and on with Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, or Bob Beckel.  Then I would turn on Jon Stewart and laugh.

But, when I sit here looking at my 12 inches of paper, I wonder this: did you hear or read anything in these ads that helped you decide who you were voting for?  Did the Mielke attacks make you not want to vote for Duffy, or did you simply think that Dan was really angry and needed a hug?

When you saw some group put Julie Lassa’s telephone number on television in an attack ad, did you call?

When Julie Lassa finally got around to attacking Duffy, was that what convinced you that she was the better choice?

And can anyone tell me who Chuck Eno even is?  I see three or four signs, but have never seen him, nor seen a commercial.

Does any of this campaigning, attacking, posturing, defending, attacking, and defending help you decide?  Or, do you read the newspaper and see what the candidates have to say?

Did any of the 12 inches on my table help me decide? No.  Not a thing in there equals a coherent public policy discussion with people asking me to vote for them, so they can go make public policy that will affect me and my friends.

I have a friend right now who is doing a start-up.  They are establishing their IPO.  I have no idea what IPO stands for, but he is in something called a silent period, or a quiet period.  The company is not allowed to send out press releases or make public statements about the IPO because it can be seen as hyping the stock price (I also have no idea what that means).

I think we should have that in elections.  Yeah, yeah, I get the free speech contradiction, but at some point it would be nice to tell everyone to shut up.  I think we should have a quiet period from candidates and special interest; when there are no debates, no flyers, no robocalls; when the electorate can be given the chance to metaphorically quietly ponder the decision in front of them.  But, that also violates the whole free speech thing, so it probably won’t work, no matter how much I do not want to hear from any of these people any more.

So, how is your soul doing in this election season?  Do you know who you are voting for?  Do you know why you are voting for them?  I hope so.  Good luck on voting day.

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