It’s over. Finally. I think, right?
Wisconsin elected Scott Walker to governor for the second time last night, and as I stood in the Waukesha Expo Center waiting for Walker to come on stage for his victory speech, I couldn’t help but think this political in-fighting isn’t over. My fears were confirmed when Tom Barrett’s concession speech was played live on the projector in the auditorium and the audio came over the sound system.
“It’s time we start working together,” Barrett said. But before he could begin his next sentence, the audience in Waukesha drowned out his speech with a hail of boos. Moments later a roaring chant of “Na-nah-nah-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye” started in the crowd before Barrett’s audio was switched off.
During Walker’s victory speech where he called on Wisconsin to move forward and stand united, boos rang out through the crowd at any mention of Barrett’s name. When the boos got too loud, Walker pointed to the crowd and said, “No, no the election is over. It’s time to move the state forward. Tomorrow we are one as Wisconsinites.” His speech remained committed to uniting and working together—an idea that was met with sparse praise from the crowd.
When did Wisconsin politics turn into a WWE event? Why have we suddenly started treating our politicians and their supporters as either good or evil? It’s not only petulant and immature, but dangerous to our political system and government. Even if politicians publicly remark on their commitment to bi-partisanship, it takes the support from their constituents to carry out their policies and not act like stubborn children.
Wisconsin government cannot move forward until everyone decides that ideological and political differences are a fact of life. Anyone who believes that Walker or Barrett are evil people who are deadset on corrupting Wisconsin with their policies are downright foolish. Both of these men (and generally most politicians) genuinely want Wisconsin to thrive, they just have different ways of achieving that goal.
I know much has been written about the divisiveness of modern American politics—specifically the divide in Wisconsin—but after this recall election I wanted so badly to believe that Wisconsinites were better than this. A lot of people like to blame politicians for creating an atmosphere of partisanship. While that may have truth, Wisconsinites are complicit in the problem as well. The electorate seems only able to politically express itself through boos, cheers and chants. This isn’t what democracy looks like.
We’re nice people. Let’s start acting like it toward one another and not just our ideological compatriots.