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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz Commentary

Does anyone get the impression that either Scott Walker or Mary Burke has a vision for the state? (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Governor's race lacks big dreams and inspiration


Watching the campaign for governor, with an election just about two months away, it's easy to get the impression that this campaign is about one issue and one issue only.

Jobs!

That's all anyone talks about. One side has a set of statistics showing that we are doing a great job creating and maintaining jobs. The other side has some other statistics showing that we are falling by the wayside and not fulfilling promises of creating jobs.

I get it. I understand that job creation is one measure of the health of an economy of any government, local, state or national. I know it's important.

But what seems to be missing is something called "leadership." And that's what I want to see in a governor or mayor or president, for that matter. Lead. Show us how we can be better than we are.

Agree with them or not, but when Ronald Reagan and and Barack Obama ran for office they ran with a vision that they explained, day after day. Maybe you liked their vision, maybe you didn't. But they had a view of the American dream and they brought a lot of people along with them.

Does anyone get the impression that either Scott Walker or Mary Burke has a vision for the state? Do they have dreams for us? Are they prepared to take us on a walk through the dark forest searching for sunlight on the other side?

The answer is clearly no. They may well have a vision or some dreams, but it's a deep secret, hidden from view, buried in hundreds of numbers on a chart showing either how good we are doing or how bad we are doing.

There are a lot of important issues in our state.

Education reform is critical in some cities, mainly Milwaukee. We need to find ways to better support our family farms. Race relations are terrible. We need to find a way to address the fact that women make so much less than men for the same jobs. We need to deal with the craziness of things like voter ID laws and a ban on gay marriage.

We need to look at our crumbling infrastructure and fix dozens of bridges around the state that seem to be just waiting to be the site of a bad accident. There are all kinds of young people trying to start businesses and they could use a hand. We have empty buildings ripe for use by some company that wants to come to here.

We need some spirit in Wisconsin. We need somebody who can light a fire under all of us and help us with that "can do" attitude that this state used to have. We now seem to be more of a "can't do" state.

We may not even know it ourselves, but if you pause for a minute, it's hard to escape the idea that we are a state, not unlike so many others in the Midwest, where our immediate destiny is bedeviled by questions.

We have problems, sure, but in many of those questions there are opportunities. And it would be nice to have a governor who had some depth of feeling about what lay in front of us.

When Reagan talked about "a shining city on a hill" we all knew what he meant. Those words sang and soared. When Obama said "yes we can" in his first campaign he made us all believe that we really could.

Both of those men had the magic.

What we have now running for governor is not magic. Instead it is a tightly packaged, single-issue campaign that may well be decided on which set of statistics more voters believe.

What we are left with is boring, sad and way, way short of any kind of inspiration.

Talkbacks

Crew_Dat | Sept. 4, 2014 at 9:32 a.m. (report)

Great article, and one that both sides will likely agree on. Building off of this, I think our state craves moderation rather and polarization/fanaticism. We need someone who is sick of the gap between both sides, and wants to rehab that bridge. Maybe the deterioration of our actual infrastructure and education system is similar to our governance. Would be great to see someone jump out in the middle, who can remind us that bi-partisan is a good term. I don't have a clue who would fill that role; it would be hard to gain the capital needed to get a moderate party/following going and would require an intoxicating presence (no pun intended for our state). But, I think a lot of people would latch on, with the hopes of fixing issues rather than arguing if they exist.

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mikeb | Sept. 4, 2014 at 6:29 a.m. (report)

Wow, this is spot on. Say what you want about something like Act 10, but it was a bold move by Walker. Since the passage of that legislation though Walker has almost gone out of his way not to offend anyone. If he loses in November it will be largely because his supporters are puzzled by his sudden retreat. If he wins it will be because the best the Democrats could muster is someone who hasn't had an actual job in a while who seems like she's doing this because she has nothing better to do. Burke sure doesn't seem like she wants the job or else she'd be articulating a vision of why someone should vote for her aside from the fact that she's not Scott Walker

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