The public and pundits alike tend to read too much into the results of a particular election because society has fallen for the romantic notion that the culture can be perfected and social problems can be solved solely through the political process.
From a theological perspective, when this position becomes an organized ideology, it is referred to as “dominionism.” When considering examples of this type of movement, what comes to mind for many people who consider themselves mainstream, is right-wing religious movements of the past, such as The Moral Majority and The Christian Coalition. Yet in reality, the religious left is far more deliberate in their efforts to achieve their objectives by using the apparatus of governmental policy to perfect culture. This was one of the dynamics that propelled the election of Obama as president in 2008. The quest for apparent social justice.
The folks elected or reelected this time around are likely to suffer the same fate during the next election should they disappoint the public over the next two years. I am convinced that what average people do and stand for in their daily lives will have a more profound effect on society in the long haul. That notion is underrated. Perhaps 60 or 70 years ago, such an observation would have been considered common sense, but as the political sphere tends to encroach more heavily on the other facets of society, virtually all issues have become politicized.
For myself, an analysis of the election for this publication will be comprised of two basic parts, the national ramifications and an analysis of Wisconsin’s election. First the national election.
While some commentators are trying to depict this election as one of anti-incumbency, such analysis clearly misses the mark.
How many Republicans were defeated either nationwide or in political races within individual states? Nationwide, the message was clear, Obama was not running, therefore those who were closely identified with supporting his policies received the wrath of the voters. Notice how many Democratic legislators attempted to distance themselves from Obama, despite the fact that they had voting records in lockstep with his policies. That is a commentary on how they feel about the intelligence of the average voter who will ignore the obvious, forgetting the recent past.
It would be an inexcusable mistake to assume that this election means the culture has become more conservative in its orientation. They voted against Obama’s policies, not for Republican principles. At best that only provides Republicans with another opportunity where they failed miserably the last time they held a majority.
While I’m not enamored with political parties, my personal policy is that I vote for that platform which most closely reflects my entire system of values, not the person or party that promises to protect my job or take care of me womb to tomb, while trampling on issues I otherwise hold near and dear. That would be more characteristic of extortion rather than compromise. It is difficult to conscientiously vote for a platform that offends me, regardless of how sincere the person supporting it may be.
The result of applying this standard to voting often results in disappointment, since campaign promises are made to win elections, not necessarily as true ideological positions of principle. Many politicians of all stripes either are or become people who are self-absorbed and out for their self-promotion.
In this state, Governor Scott Walker again handily survived a full assault from special interests for the third time in four years. That entrenches Walker unless the liberals are able to field a decent candidate next time, or Walker fumbles the ball. I hate to admit it, but I believe a candidate with the stature of Russ Feingold might have beaten Walker.
But regardless of your political affiliations, there is at least one quality that everyone should admire in Walker. How often have we heard people complaining about business as usual in Washington, or at their state capital? Walker comes along and is willing to do what he believes is necessary for the state to prosper, though it harms his own personal popularity. That is a quality we need to have in those who govern, whether or not we believe in their policies.
Ultimately, Walker won two elections in which everything but the kitchen sink was used to oppose him. He came out on the other side by holding fast to his principles, rather than governing according to opinion polls.
With the additional gains in the state legislature, Walker will be able to implement his agenda, but even more importantly, he set forth a model that other governors might be emboldened to duplicate.