I've been thinking a lot about some of the national hot-button issues that are dominating the news. Among the more interesting ones is the trend of legalizing marijuana, for either medicinal or recreational purposes. My gut says that the days of criminalizing pot use, nationally, are waning, and in 10 years, we'll all be laughing about this like it was Prohibition.
And then I think of Wisconsin, and I can't even imagine our state getting on board with this on its own. Just like the smoking ban, we waited until most of our neighbors enacted it, and even then, it didn't happen without a contentious fight.
Yet, when it comes to curbing alcohol use or drinking and driving laws, Wisconsin only complies when it has to.
But take high-speed rail. Even if the rest of the country goes forward gung ho, Wisconsin completely shuts it down.
Or gay marriage. Or the death penalty. Or separation of church and state.
And I won't even touch the gun control issue on this forum, but given Wisconsinites fondness for hunting, I can imagine it will be the hottest of the hot-button issues.
Please understand that I'm not advocating one way or the other on these issues; my opinions on these topics are not germane to this blog posting. I'm only wondering why, when it comes to following the lead of the rest of the country for right or for wrong, at least lately, Wisconsin says "thanks but no thanks."
I don't think it's a Democrat or Republican thing. Yes, Gov. Scott Walker is certainly a Republican, but congressionally, Wisconsin is very "purple." And in presidential elections, Wisconsin votes Democrat more often than not.
Wisconsin has a very progressive history, actually, but lately it seems content with the status quo. Are we that much smarter than the rest of America? Or are we so much dumber?
Maybe it's a rural-urban thing. Milwaukee and Dane Counties are obviously extremely liberal, while the rest of the state (with a few exceptions) tends to be much more conservative.
It's puzzling to me that Milwaukee is so much more different than the rest of Wisconsin than, say, Minneapolis is to the rest of Minnesota. Right?
Or maybe not. My perception is that Wisconsin has taken a hard right turn when it comes to social and fiscal issues, and it extends beyond its choice for governor. Please enlighten me.
Is Wisconsin really behind the curve or do we not have some of the liberal policies you'd like to see enacted? Take the issues you list:
Gay Marriage: I may be mistaken, but I don't think this has passed anywhere in the country from a referendum. It's gaining momentum in most places, but the majority of voters just isn't there yet.
High Speed Rail: I think had the initial spending been for improving the existing Hiawatha line, it would have received a lot more support. Instead, they lead with a Milwaukee to Madison line that is not a pressing issue for most people.
Smoking: There's something to be said for letting people use a legal product in a private establishment. That was an issue where the marketplace was starting to enact its will. Bars like the Sugar Maple started to pop up and some of their popularity was due to the fact that you couldn't smoke there. More bars would have made that decision. Then we could have had bars that catered to non-smokers and those that cater to smokers. Everyone wins.
Gun Control: While there's a lot of raw emotion on this issue, don't be surprised if there's not much done. Why? Most people still support the second amendment.
I know you're completely bummed out about Scott Walker being the governor, but that doesn't mean Wisconsin is behind the curve.
On a side note, please leave this article up as long as possible. I really enjoy looking at the photo throughout the work day..... Dont worry, my boss is Canadian.
I would love to see a state referendum on Medical Marijuana. It is a state issue and should be treated as such. WI being an agriculture state, could create well over 250,000 jobs with just medical. It is inevitable that it will happen. Especially with the public coming to terms that there is an over prescriptions epidemic of dangerously addictive opiates.
I see other states adopting some of the budget-saving measures that Walker implemented. I see other states pushing school choice (pioneered in Wisconsin). On these two issues, Wisconsin is unquestionably a leader.
Other states have been "gung ho" about high speed rail, until the bills start coming in. Watch as these projects get cancelled. We'll see how many of these projects actually get completed. Once again, Wisconsin was one of the first states to take a hard look and do the responsible, commonsense thing and not get swept up in silly emotion.
I don't understand the death penalty issue? Wisconsin has outlawed the death penalty forever, and the rest of the country is just catching up....
So who is right? Am I right that Wisconsin is a national leader, or are you right that Wisconsin lags the rest of the country?
Ever hear of confirmation bias?
The bottom line is that the voters in this state don't like a lot of the things you like.
Wisconsin, with republican or democrat leadership, has rarely had knee-jerk reactions when it comes issues or policy. For as liberal or progressive as we may have been, we still are very conservative fiscally. Heck, even the socialists, who, until rather recently ran Milwaukee, were very tight-fisted when it came to spending. Despite the explosion in entitlement spending, our state is still running a budget surplus thanks to our fiscally conservative approach. Of course, there are blips on the radar when it comes to this fiscal restraint (2 terms of Gov. Doyle, last term of Tommy Thompson) but by and large we like to save money which extends to other areas of restraint.
Show me the other Talkback
6 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published July 25, 2016
Jessica Tighe is an appreciative person. While the Elm Grove native has worked in West Virginia, the Quad Cities and La Crosse, now she's home and co-anchoring the morning news on CBS 58. Ask Tighe how it feels and she actually gets goose bumps: "I have family here. I'm invested in this market," she says with a smile.
Published July 11, 2016
Summerfest 2016 may have come and gone, but the memories will live forever - because we at OnMilwaukee took enough photos and video to fill a large hard drive.
Published July 9, 2016
Playing before the Barenaked Ladies and OMD, Howard Jones got the 6 p.m. spot at the BMO Harris Pavilion Saturday night, and while that's not exactly top billing for an artist who had 15 top 40 singles during his career, I'll take it.
Published July 9, 2016
In a word, Paul McCartney was amazing tonight. I feel beyond fortunate that I've now seen him play twice. Now back at the office, at midnight, Bobby is writing the main review, but I have some stuff to say, too. Random stuff, so please indulge me.
Published July 7, 2016
Go ahead; get those laughs out of the way. I'm trying to write a serious review of Anthony Ray's Big Gig show. You, of course, know him as Sir Mix-a-Lot, and unless you listened to his tapes in the early '90s, you probably recognize just one of his songs.
Published June 30, 2016
If you've ever bought an official Summerfest T-shirt, hat or other branded gift, it's first gone through Dan Elias. As vice president of The Specialized Marketing Group Inc., he's managed the merch for the Big Gig for 17 years.
Published June 28, 2016
In college, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was trapped on a crazy elevator. Lately, that's been replaced by what I call the "fat finger" dream. I've talked to a few people, including co-worker Molly Synder, who has had it, too.
Published June 27, 2016
OnMilwaukee publisher Andy Tarnoff is very impressed with this year's Summerfest lineup, but he thinks the strongest day for the Big Gig is on July 9. For his money, he's especially excited about Howard Jones and, obviously, Sir Paul McCartney. Here are his picks.
Published June 11, 2016
"It's good to be king." Mel Brooks actually said that, quoting himself, to a sold-out show Saturday night at the Riverside. Based on the remarkable stories, the adoring reception and the super-human energy from this soon-to-be 90-year-old film legend, I believe him.
Published May 7, 2016
I won't lie to you: I know nothing about the current state of professional wrestling. But from 1983 to 1989, from about age 9 to 15, I was a huge fan. So big, in fact, that I wrote a fan letter to WWF announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund.