By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

The Top 10 things that make it hard to be a really conscientious voter in Milwaukee:

10. It's a full-time job. It used to be that elections rolled around every once in a while and you only had to pay attention, at most, a couple of times a year. Now, with all these recalls, you have to keep up all year long. Who has time for this kind of crap?

9. Negative advertising. I know everyone says negative ads work, but how painful is it to actually watch them interrupt your favorite TV program? First one candidate says the other is responsible for losing jobs. Then the second candidate says exactly the same thing about the first. One of these guys is obviously lying and it's impossible to tell which one. Political TV ads make you long for the days of Mr. Whipple, Buying the World a Coke and Mikey Likes It.

8. Right-wing talk radio. That is almost a given, since there is almost no left-wing talk radio. But the right-wing hosts and hostesses assault voters with all manner of "fact." If I had a dollar for every time some right-wing zealot shouted at me, "you can look it up" I wouldn't be writing this column. I would probably not live in Milwaukee, except for a couple of months during the summer.

7. A spokesperson said. I used to be a spokesperson, and I know how aggravating they can be. If the press (read: the public) has a question about the bad news coming from some campaign, I want to hear the candidate talk about it, not someone who was a junior reporter on the television news who jumped to politics for a raise of $75 a month.

6. TV news phoniness. Not that it's never not phony or something. But I love how the TV news stations talk about their commitment to the election process and how you will have all the information you need if you'd just watch their station. Come on. In Milwaukee, for instance, only Channel 12 comes close to actually covering politics and it's the only place in town where you can find people who actually know something about it. Political coverage on other TV stations is like a confluence of idiots.

5. To bring an ID or not to bring and ID. Wisconsin either has or doesn't have a stupid law that requires you to show an ID to vote. Who knows if it's the law or not, since the whole thing is tied up in court. It's supposed to stop voter fraud, of which there is virtually none. Instead, what it will do is make it harder for some people (read: Democrats) to vote. I guess I was wrong when I thought that the idea was to encourage people to vote, not discourage them.

4. People who are named Tom and Scott and Kathy and Jeff and Doug. It is just sooooo ordinary. Think of the names of great political figures, Franklin, Rutherford, Abraham, Ronald, Angus (the former Governor of Maine and a wonderful leader) and, yes, Barack. Those are names that bring to mind greatness. Scott reminds me of the kid behind the counter at the nearest Open Pantry. Kathy is my babysitter.

3. News conferences with the Rainbow Coalition behind the candidate. I don't know when this started, but the new deal is to have the candidate stand at the microphone and have a group of suitably diverse people standing behind him looking like they don't care. Get a man and a woman and someone from every ethnic group except Eskimos because they don't vote in big numbers in Wisconsin, and have disabled and fat and skinny and someone who is old and someone who can barely vote. Tell them to stand still so they don't take attention away from the candidate and let's roll those cameras. Do those candidates think we are fools? (Answer is obvious). Plus, almost every time I see one of these I catch someone picking their nose.

2. Candidate wives (or husbands, I guess). I can just imagine telling my wife that I'm going to run for office and it would be great if she'd stop wearing sweatpants and if she'd continually wear makeup and would always, always smile and if she'd get her hair done every other day and if she'd please be nice, even to people she didn't like, and if she'd give me a full-of-praise introduction before all my speeches and make our children and grandchildren dress up and not throw spitballs at each other while they gaze adoringly at me during my long winded speech. Any wife who'd do all that, well, she sure wouldn't be any wife I know.

And the number one reason that it's hard to be a conscientious voter in Wisconsin?

Four words!


Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.