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 May 13, 2017
Such an unlikely pairing. The blue-eyed soul of Hall & Oates, or the Brit pop of Tears For Fears? Who was better Saturday night at the Bradley Center? Depends who you're asking.
Published May 11, 2017
Milwaukee artist Ava Herrider is an animal lover, but it took her a few career changes to settle upon pet portraiture as her full-time job. Last year, she decided to do what moves her: "paint things people love," as she says. In other words, their pets.
Published May 5, 2017
TIKI torches, the outdoor oil lamps synonymous with beach parties and backyard barbecues, aren't made in Maui or Malibu. Nope, the company is based in Menomonee Falls, a city slightly less frequently associated with Polynesian party ware.
Published April 28, 2017
VW built 21 million Beetles up until 2003. Thousands of those iconic Bugs are still on the road, and one Milwaukee company exists solely to build and rebuild their air-cooled engines. Mofoco, started by Randy Henning, is now owned by his son, Roy, and quietly services VW customers around the world.
Published April 25, 2017
While planning next week's trip Up North, I started wondering just how much of Wisconsin I've seen over these last 37 years. So, I downloaded a map and started drawing on it, including the route I have planned for next week.
Published April 14, 2017
Milwaukeeans love our 414, the area code covering the city, the county and parts of Muskego and Brookfield. It's been since 1947, when Bell Telephone established it, along with 715, in Wisconsin. But why did they pick 414?
Published April 12, 2017
Maybe it was all the hard living back then. Maybe it was all the mustaches. But how old was this motley Brewers Crew back in '82?
Published April 3, 2017
The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg. Is there anywhere to go but up?
Published March 14, 2017
In a market with plenty of big box stores, how does owning a neighborhood Ace Hardware store in this era make sense? Easy, says owners Bob and Kristin Nell. It's about customer service.
Published March 8, 2017
You may be surprised to read this from OnMilwaukee Publisher Andy Tarnoff, but claiming newspapers are dead is at best myopic, and at worst, just wrong. They simply occupy a different place in society now.