What Scott Walker promised in the campaign is not the point

Lindsay Graham says people in Wisconsin shouldn't complain or act surprised, because Scott Walker is just doing what he promised during the campaign. Others have responded, "Oh no he didn't!" I'd say that whether he promised or not is merely a side issue. Specifically, what matters is whether this is a good thing to do or a bad thing, regardless of what Scott said during the campaign. Especially since Scott's approach here might very well become a template for more of the same in other states.

One of the issues that matter more generally is what this shows about the way we elect public officials. Just one example: Over the course of a long campaign a candidate's platform is distilled to a series of catch-phrases and talking-points. These talking-points are then repeated ad infinitum. Voters recognize that, and perhaps subconsciously their minds say, "Hey! We've been here and heard this. Yawn." After all, as I understand it, the brain evolved to respond more to novelty than to stasis. (I'll find documentation and add it. Suggestions welcomed.)

In other words, candidates might very well make promises during a campaign, but that doesn't mean the promises are being heard.

If voters aren't moved by a candidate's positive message, then, what does get to them? Duh! Negative messages about the candidate's opponent. When "Citizens United" cash flows into a campaign, what is it used for? Mostly attack ads. Once again, the money doesn't come without strings attached. A majority of those strings are gathered into just a few hands. The persons manipulating the strings have a deep influence on the way a campaign is conducted. (Check a few before/after websites or ads for Sharon Angle.)

Progressives must find a way make sure that voters know exactly what conservatives are promising ... and what those promises will cost in human terms if the candidate is able win election and push through what he or she wants. That understanding will reach moderate Republicans as well as committed Democrats. Think of the "buyer's remorse" being expressed by many of those who put in office the far-right ideologues now in state and federal government.

And think also of the remorse of those who didn't even bother to vote. Wisconsin? If the same number of voters had turned out for Russ Feingold this time as did in his previous election, he would still be a U.S. senator.

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