A few days ago I posted a rant concerning State Senator Alberta Darling’s claim that Mitt Romney might have won Wisconsin, had there not been such extensive voter fraud. To refresh your memory, President Obama won Wisconsin by well over 202 thousand votes out of 3 million cast, which is a margin of victory of about 7%.
The post got a lot of pageviews, because I linked it to my Facebook page. I got some pushback from friends on the right, who insist voter fraud is real and it’s hard to track down. And yes, I do have plenty of friends on the right.
I shouldn’t call it “pushback”; I should call it discussion. Because that’s what it is. In discussion among adults, civilized people don’t try to bully someone into accepting their point of view. We don’t “push back” when others disagree with us. And that’s one of the things that’s gone so wrong in American politics. It’s ALL pushback. The politicians don’t discuss; they argue. And way too often, they ridicule, just as I ridiculed Senator Darling in my prior blog post on this. They seem unable, or at least are certainly unwilling, to sit down and discuss.
In the polarized political world of 2012, politicians and political parties work against each other, rather than for the people. They don’t finish a day of work at the Capital – either in Madison or Washington DC - and have a beer together at the Avenue Bar or wherever. They retreat to their own enclaves, where they plot and scheme on how to get the advantage on the other party. They live in their own echo chambers. Lefties have MSNBC and righties have Fox News.
Friends and colleagues discuss differences and work them out. Anyone in a successful marriage knows how this works. We learn that there are certain things where our partner will not compromise –and in a good marriage, the list is short – and we don’t try to make our partner abandon a core value by shouting them down or ridiculing them. Since Adam and Eve, that hasn’t worked, and it never will. We learn to work together for the betterment of our marriage and our family.
To me, the simple fact is, the Republicans need the Democrats, and the Democrats need the Republicans. They have different core values and different principles and different outlooks, but they used to work together pretty well, back in the days when Tommy Thompson was a Republican Governor with a Democratic Legislature, back when we had great leaders like Tip O’Neill and Bob Dole in positions of power. They used to balance each other. And they still could, if they’d stop the posturing.
So, should I have toned down the harshness in my post about Senator Darling? Probably. I could have simply made the case that voter fraud to the extent that she alleges seems highly unlikely. Is there fraud? Probably. Is it hard to prove? Yes, by its nature. But 202 thousand cases of it? When no one in Wisconsin has ever produced a single, tangible, prosecutable piece of evidence, it’s difficult to take seriously an allegation of the magnitude Darling alleges, particularly when one considers that she is more than likely advancing an agenda. Had she said one percent of the votes cast were fraudulent, I would still ask for evidence, not allegations or hearsay. We take our elections seriously in Wisconsin, and undermining confidence in our vote-counting system is a serious charge, one that needs to be backed up with, at the very least, ONE specific incidence.
If Senator Johnson saw a vanload of what he called “illegal voters”, I want a description of the van, the exact time and place that he saw it, and – if possible – a license plate number or partial plate number. In this day and age of smart phones surreptitiously capturing everything – from a spouse’s indiscretions to a candidate’s speech to donors – you can’t tell me there are 202,700 instances of voter fraud unless you back it up with something tangible. Mistakes in the tally? Of course. Deliberate manipulation of vote totals by election officials? Seems possible. Ask Kathy Nickolaus some hard questions.
We face very serious issues and have to make some hard decisions as a nation. Someone needs to remind Paul Ryan that the very reason Medicare came into existence – and this is within most of our lifetimes, friends: July 30th, 1965 - is that insurance companies refused to sell health insurance to people who were old or sick. Giving vouchers so we can go to the insurance companies is NOT the answer. It’s a lesson of history we should have already learned. But we can’t continue to allow the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to grow as it has been, without doing SOMETHING about it. Both sides need to work together to find the best solution.
Kind of like that “sifting and winnowing” phrase on that plaque on Bascom Hall that embodies “the Wisconsin idea”.
We need to tone it down, pay less attention to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Charlie Sykes, and the other players in the media/entertainment complex, and start listening more to each other.