Citizen Wausau

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Who Is This Person Who Might Represent Me?

by on October 19th, 2012

Recently Pat Snyder has come under fire for saying that his comments and outlandish, extreme behavior on his radio show was for entertainment only, that it was not necessarily indicative of who he is as a candidate or as a person.

I think the encompassing and most important theme in this argument is the duality of personalities and what it means for trustworthiness. We are held accountable for what we say outloud and online. People remember. Extreme viewpoints are extreme, and they don’t speak to Middle America, and they don’t bode well for bipartisan effectiveness. Some savvy politicians have been able to bring forth change by crossing the aisle and cosponsoring bills with “the enemy.” But Pat Snyder is the shock jock of conservative radio in Central Wisconsin. People probably wouldn’t elect Howard Stern because, while he is very entertaining in an escapist sort of way, he doesn’t seem level headed enough to actually serve 100% of the population with aplomb and grace. Any sort of shock jock radio is escapist, and it feeds to our desires for the extreme, in the same way that we’re not angry people by nature, but road rage is a release or a night of binge drinking seems like a good idea at the time. A vote for Pat Snyder is not a “center” kind of vote, and I don’t think he can actually claim to be.

As for Mr. Snyder being different in real life as compared to what he is on the air, I’ve met several local newspeople or commentators who are on TV or the radio. In real life, I’ve NEVER felt like they are someone different than who they are in their job. Their effectiveness and appeal as journalists come from who they are as people — naturally curious, friendly and concerned citizens. Perhaps they aren’t entertaining enough to command the mike for hours every day every week for years. Maybe they are too bland. We have to ask: What kind of personality is necessary to do the kind of radio that Pat Snyder did? While we might think we really want to hear thoughtful, balanced interviews and coverage of current events, that probably won’t be enough to keep up the listenership and advertising revenue. What we as consumers want is something a little far from center, something occasionally outrageous, something that might shock or intrigue us, something to get the conversation going. Pat Snyder has never pretended that his show is anything but a conservative talk radio show (as far as I know), so he’s allowed to preach to the choir.

Now he’s running for office, and like most party politicians, he’s assured of his party vote. After the primaries are over, he needs to try to win over the swing vote, those undecided voters who don’t vote a straight party line (like me). It’s a natural inclination to try to speak a centralized message at this point in his campaign. In my opinion, it’s backfiring and is poor strategy because it shows him as a two-faced person, which doesn’t appeal to me at all. Sean Duffy is very conservative, but he doesn’t waver back and forth on his message. He is who he’s always been, and when he makes mistakes, he owns up to them. I respect and admire that, and I’ve voted for him.

Here’s another aspect of the conversation that is interesting. Other than the isolated cases of bipartisan politics really working, hasn’t the state governance in the past couple years proven that one party with a strong enough voice can actually dictate the government? In the past, not a lot has changed from year to year because one side couldn’t get enough support to pass anything through. As a country, we are so evenly divided down the party lines, it’s kind of rare to have a single party in such firm control over the legislature. So maybe if Pat Snyder gets to Madison, he’ll actually be a very effective politician for his platform because he just has to win over his own party. He’ll still be “preaching to the choir” just like he was on his radio show.

If he gets elected, he’ll technically be my voice in Madison, but I’ll still feel like I’m not actually represented down there. That’s just the way of party politics. Scott Walker is my governor, but he doesn’t speak for me. If Mandy Wright gets elected, I’ll feel represented, and she’ll actually be speaking for me. That’s just an emotional perception because of the way Mandy has always talked to me, even if I don’t agree with everything she says or intends to vote for. I still think she’ll be willing to listen to what I have to say and care about my opinion, while Pat Snyder, as evidenced by years of shutting down debates (or not showing up at all) and belittling alternative voices, probably wouldn’t have the time of day for people who don’t agree with him. This is my perception, not necessarily reality, but it’s definitely influencing my vote in November.

 

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