THE IMAGINARY MANDATE

I'm as shocked to say this as you are to hear it, but in a strange way I feel bad for Scott Walker. He is facing a backlash – including among some of the people who voted for him – for doing exactly what any moderately informed observer would expect Scott Walker to do once elected Governor of Wisconsin. The situation is roughly similar to that of President Obama, who campaigned on health care reform and then was put through the wringer when he actually proposed it. Walker is in the same boat, the primary difference being substantive (health care reform was intended to help people, whereas Walker's goal seems to be to screw the greatest possible share of the non-investor class). Both Walker and Obama made one of the classic mistakes in American politics: assuming that most of the electorate had the slightest idea of what the candidates stood for when voting for them.

The idea of a "mandate" is probably the most overused and overstated concepts in media coverage of elections. We have known for a long, long time that mandates are essentially a myth (see Robert Dahl's classic "Myth of the Presidential Mandate" from 1990). Elections are to modern politicians what oracles were to the ancient Greeks – all agreed that the oracle is the voice of a god, but everyone present admitted that when it spoke it was not as intelligible as desired. Elections say something about what the public wants. What exactly it says to the elected, however, is subjective and largely a projection of his or her own desires. The Teabagger interprets election as a mandate to Teabag; I imagine that the shock of being disabused of that notion must be great.

Sometimes all of the planets align perfectly, and it amused me to have Walker's mini-revolt happen during the same week as the "revelations" that the Iraqi defector / intelligence source known as "Curveball" (if you ever want to experience boiling blood, check out Bob Drogin's book of the same name) was unabashedly lying his ass off when his statements about Iraqi chemical/nuclear programs, often gleefully reported by Judith Miller, were used by the Bush administration to pave the road to war. In my view, there's no reason to be angry with Mr. Curveball. He was merely an individual acting out of self interest, of which there are about 6 billion on this planet. The anger should be directed at those who consciously chose to believe him even though he was completely, transparently, and perhaps even shockingly full of shit. People like Rumsfeld and Powell are coming forward in full Righteous Indignation mode, flabbergasted that an informant would or could lie. But it was patently obvious at the time that the source was fabricating his story…obvious to everyone except those who wanted to hear and believe exactly what he had to say.

So it is with Scott Walker. The most casual participant in the political process knows exactly what they will get when they vote for and elect Tea Party types and the more extreme right Republicans in general. No, he never came out and said "Hey, I'm gonna ream you public employees so hard you won't walk right for years!" on the campaign trail. He might even have said a lot of sweet sounding things to the contrary. Only a voter lying to himself or completely ignorant of politics, however, would actually believe it. It's time to stop being angry with Scott Walker, which makes no more sense than being angry at a dog for barking and chasing cars. Instead, our anger is more fairly directed at the swing voters who decide American elections – the kind of mushy, ill-informed "independent" who would vote for him and then be shocked to learn how extreme his brand of governance is. People like Walker will continue to get elected so long as there are voters who are willfully ignorant of what candidates really stand for or so easily duped that a few sound bites can overwhelm all available evidence that the Governor-to-be supports an agenda of the kind of corporate cronyism and pathological hatred of government that defines people of his ideological stripes.

When you vote for people like Scott Walker and Ron Johnson, this is what you get. How unfortunate it is that the rest of us have to be chained to so many people who have not yet figured that out. As long as the electorate is composed substantially of people who won't understand that the glowing stove is hot until they put their hand on it, we will continue to suffer Scott Walkers at unpleasantly regular intervals.

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59 Responses to “THE IMAGINARY MANDATE”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    The WI Dems in exile that I've heard interviewed all say that this plan is nothing like what Walked compained on. Interestingly, though, in his previous county job, he pulled a similar scam – right down to a ginned up budget crisis. This tonight from Rachel Maddow, who to the best of my knowledge is scrupulously honest.

    Wanker is not like the dog in your analogy. He has free will and the unbridled ability to lie, cheat and steal like his patrons the Kochroaches. This is a coordinated effort. Kasich in Ohio and Scott in FLA are watching this with bated breath. We even elected Snyder – a venture-capitalist job-exporting rethug as governor here in depressed MI – over a dynamic Dem mayor with a proven record of job creation in his community. How fucked up is that?

    My last forlorn hope is that the Rethugs have overplayed their hand, people will finally see them for what they are, and vote them out at all levels.

    If not, it's downhill from here to dark ages on greased skis.

    JzB

  2. Carol Says:

    I agree in principle, but as I understand it, Walker NEVER said anything about taking away collective bargaining rights while on the campaign trail.

  3. jeneria Says:

    I live in Wisconsin.

    Walker won by promising to kill the high speed rail in Wisconsin and overturning the smoking ban. He killed the train alright and cost Wisconsin 100's of jobs. He flip flopped on the smoking ban (for which I am thankful). Balancing the budget was sort of mushed into the rest of his rhetoric, but nothing was said about busting unions. He campaigned "personal responsibility" and all that bullshit that always translates into screwing the lower class.

  4. J. Dryden Says:

    Instead of a dog, allow me to offer another anthropomorphism.

    Abbreviated version of famous parable: Woman finds injured snake. Woman nurses snake back to health at her bosom. Snake bites woman. Woman, dying, is shocked. "Bitch, you knew I was a snake," snake explains. And, scene.

    Walker is what he is. If fucktards–I'm sorry, "swing voters"–choose to ignore that, then our only meager recompense is to shove it in their fat faces while we all burn.

  5. Ben Says:

    I'm afraid that Ed's analysis on this is too chipper. People just don't like unions nowadays. (There should be a term like "Stockholm Syndrome" to refer to people who get assfucked for thirty years by corporations that end up believing in what the corporations believe politically). Standard caveats about public opinion polling apply, but check out this:

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0211/Poll_Public_unions_a_hard_sell.html

    49% of Democrats think there shouldn't be any unions. Jesus H.

    Also, seconding the Maddow clip as worthwhile to watch. Here's the link:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908//vp/41655758#41655758

  6. The Man, The Myth Says:

    It makes me so mad. Where do these fucktards come from? He won on canceling a high speed rail project? When America is in desperate need for adequate rail nation wide? Who thinks that is smart? I'm unsure about the specifics of driving from Madison to Milwaukee, but it can't be any better than any other road system in America. If they don't want a train then will they re-pave all the roads to help out our flagging infrastructure? I would surely prefer the rail, but at least be willing to call a problem a problem and not behave like an ostrich and ignore problems. Here in Montana every day more crazy shit comes out of the legislature by more fucktards. I don't understand it. My brain is going to burst if I try to think about fucktards any longer.

  7. Entomologista Says:

    I'm unsure about the specifics of driving from Madison to Milwaukee

    Southeastern Wisconsin is a high commuter area. Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison could definitely use a train system. A train system up and down the lakeshore between Green Bay and Milwaukee wouldn't hurt either, come to think of it. There are a lot of places like that in the Midwest where we could use trains, but we will probably never have trains. Omaha-Lincoln. Rochester-Minneapolis. Kansas City-Columbia-St. Louis. But it's never going to happen.

  8. Major Kong Says:

    Note –

    A Democrat can never have a mandate. Anytime a Democrat gets elected it is some kind of fluke of nature.

    A Republican always has a mandate.

    Apparently these mandates range from "Seriously huge GOP mandate" on the low end to "OMG! Could this GOP mandate possibly be any more enormous?" on the upper end.

    I hope this clears things up.

  9. drkone Says:

    The underlying assumption is that the electorate KNEW that they were bringing a snake to their bosom. Unfortunately, in a post Citizens United v. FEC age, this assumption is unreliable. He rode in on a Koch and continues to milk it to the detriment of those who voted him in.

  10. Jeremy Says:

    People in Wisconsin knew exactly what they were getting with Walker, he has been running the highest profile county in the state into the ground for years.

  11. jazzbumpa Says:

    Jeremy –

    Get serious. Who in the fuck pays any attention to Co. level politics?

    Do you think people even one county over had the slightest notion what he was doing?

    Another thing I've heard in interviews of people who've known him for a long time – like 20 years – are genuinely shocked at what he is doing.

    The dog and snake analogies are colorful, but animals have no free will and no capacity for evil.

    Wanker sold his soul to the Kochroaches. This is a choice, not an instinctive response.

    WASF,
    JzB

  12. keith Says:

    It's not just the uninformed swing voters, but a dedicated base of ideologues who know enough to show up at the polls on the right day, but remain profoundly confused about what their interests are (at least economically). Thirty years of well-funded propaganda has worked its magic to the point where the only organized force that protects the small piece of pie left over for the working class is viewed as suspect. A conversation I had with a neighbor a couple of weeks ago:

    him: I really don't pay any federal taxes, by the time I've claimed all the credits, I always get nearly everything back.

    me: yeah, me too.

    him: I think there should just be a flat tax, but one that excludes food and energy.

    me: but that would make you poorer! As a percentage of your income, you would now be shouldering a greater portion of the overall tax revenues, and rich people would be paying a lot less, making them richer and you poorer.

    him:

    me: are you aware the top marginal rates used to me much higher decades ago? And they've steadily declined since. Yet real incomes for guys like us have not increased. During the same time, incomes for the super rich have skyrocketed. Does that say anything to you?

    him: well, I've never been given a job from a poor man. I just want to feel good about my country. My feet are cold–I need to go inside now.

    me:

    Conclusion: this guy, as with so many others who've internalized conservative propaganda over the years simply have no real understanding of how they've been and are being manipulated. Is it ignorance? Stupidity? Fear? Some combination of all three?

  13. Joe Bauers Says:

    Our Grand Unifying Problem, underlying all our other problems, is that we are a nation of idiots. Idiots who vote based on who they feel is most like them and who they would most like to have a beer with. Nothing good can come from this. And it doesn't.

  14. Monkey Business Says:

    It is my sincere hope that my generation, having grown up with the internet and instant access to information and news as it happens, is not nearly as stupid as our predecessors, who I must say are doing a damn fine job of running this country into the ground.

    However, I know that such hope is foolish, as every generation says this, and every generation is just as stupid as the one before it.

    It's times like these I think a little revolution wouldn't be a bad thing. Trim the old tree of liberty of a few dead branches, that kind of thing.

  15. butler Says:

    I have read a number of posts here, all beyond excellent and incisive. What has finally caused me to post though, is my petty delight at the author's use of the word "teabag" as a verb. Awesome!

    Probably more important is someone FINALLY discussing the myth of mandate as applied to this situation wherein a relatively slim margin in one house of a bicameral state legislature is proclaimed by partisan pols a MANDATE! and everybody on the left just accepts that and looks worried/perplexed – "ooh, we're in for it now".

    There are so many ways in which the emperor is streaking down State Street it isn't even funny. But, how to get the word out???

    Anyway, thanks so much.

    P.S. words can't describe how much I dig reading a political blog that links to Electrical Audio.

  16. xynzee Says:

    @JDryden: I think the parable of the frog and scorpion is more apt to this situation.

    Scorpion wants to cross a stream, and asks the frog to carry him across.
    Frog says, "But you're a scorpion, and you'll sting me and kill me."
    To which the Scorpion replies, "If I did that then I would die as well."
    Frog considers the logic and then agrees to carry the scorpion across. Half way across, the scorpion stings the frog.
    Frog says, "Why did you do that? Because now you're going to die too!"
    Thus said the Scorpion, "Because it's my nature."

  17. Hawes Says:

    I always get angry at my dog for barking or running away or whatever doggie style idiocy she's engaged in. I reprimand her.

    Because I have to remind her who's boss. Who's at the right end of the leash.

    That's what Scott Walker needs to remember, too.

  18. Hawes Says:

    Hey, Joe Bauers: You're right about the rise of the Idiocracy (if there ever was a time we weren't an Idiocracy).

    You have to think that the GOP is working really hard to keep us stupid.

    http://zombieland-nowbrainfree.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-repeat-gop-wants-you-to-be-stupid.html

  19. displaced Capitalist Says:

    I have to admit I was one of the suckers who voted for Obama thinking he was going to get us out of Gitmo and all those wars. I really didn't pay attention to what his campaign was really about.

    FML.

  20. ladiesbane Says:

    keith nailed it, for me, but I do see where the disconnect occurs, and what fills the knowledge gap: fantasy. Which is why we believe the snake when it promises not to bite us. (J.Dryden had a solid analogy, but omitted the part that really hones it to the political: the snake says, "Oh, I know I'm a snake, but I need to cross the river so much that I promise I won't bite you." In one version, the snake bites the lady while they're mid-river, and they both perish, making it even more apt here.)

    But the fantasy: we buy into the ideal vision the candidate sells, and fill in the gaps with with hope and happy endings, if we trust the guy, rather than skepticism and questions.

    Right wingers sell a fantasy of self-reliance because their audience feels powerless and dependent, and they hate that feeling. They want the country to be strong, too, and they have an idealized memory of America leading the world away from Communism and laughing at the slow growth of Socialist Europe. They are ignoring or forgetting the bad parts of the past and not acknowledging that they are voting snakes into office. The difference is that their snakes have promised to take away their Medicare, and they voted for them anyway. Don't they know they can burn those Medicare cards right now?

    Left wingers sell a fantasy of fewer people who are homeless, hungry, sick, under-educated, and unemployed. I want those things, so I vote L. I never thought I would miss the days of Bob Dole and his ilk, but the right wing these days put scorpions to shame.

  21. Elder Futhark Says:

    Reminds me of back in the '30s (the 1930s, although I can clearly remember the 1830s being pretty fucked up as well) when swing voters made the political deck of the ship of state cant about until everyone was a pukin up last week's dinner! You want to talk stupid? I'm surprised people weren't eating their own shit. Actually, the rich did hire minders to keep each other from eating their own shit. Einstein and his kind quickly cornered the shit-eater's prevention market.

    "No! NO! Put that down!" or "Take that out of your mouth!" was an easy $350/hr. Easily.

    The Almighty sure loves stupid people.

  22. Ike Says:

    Displaced Capitalist:

    Me too. Ending the wars and having a stronger diplomatic policy were my number one issues. What we got instead is pandering pandering pandering to the Right, some stuff for the gays, and a shitty shitty health care bill. Oh, and lots of talk about retraining, community colleges, and "green energy."

    Some people thought Obama would be the next JFK. What we got was Jimmy Carter part 2. My ideal president: Can make deals and pass legislation like LBJ. Can meet face-to-face with world leaders like Nixon. And should have the bearing and grace of Madeleine Albright.

    Bleh.

  23. The Moar You Know Says:

    I will never understand how union members could vote Republican (and this guy got a fair share of union votes on his way into the statehouse) and NOT think that something like this would happen. Arnold tried it back in 2005 in California, Reagan did it in 1981…c'mon guys! REPUBLICANS HATE THE LABOR MOVEMENT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. There is nothing else one needs to understand.

  24. Where are the adults? Says:

    Show me a place where the application of left-wing ideology has produced general prosperity and I'll show you a place where high speed rail from Madison to Milwaukee sounds like a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars. The degree of juvenile groupthink exhibited on this board is as astounding as it is funny. How old are all of you, 20?

  25. xynzee Says:

    @Ben: Thanks for the links.
    But on a WT…!!! note (and call back to an earlier rant of Ed's)
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908//vp/41655758#41674753

    He has well and truly lost the plat, and it looks like they've found his heir apparent.

  26. Hobbes Says:

    I am a PhD student at UW-Madison (and I voted for Barrett, not because I thought he would make a good governor, but because I knew Walker wouldn't). Most of the PhDs are spending our social time trying to figure out how fast we can flee the state if this bullshit passes. Wisconsin already has a brain-drain problem, and this is going to make it twelve times worse.

  27. Southern Beale Says:

    Ah yes, the "Nobody could have anticipated…." rule. Nobody could have anticipated that electing a failed county executive to the Governorship would result in some incredibly awful initiatives, like cutitng corporate taxes which creates a fiscal crisis and then demands for workers to give up their rights to solve the problem.

    Nobody could have anticipated that!

  28. anotherbozo Says:

    Love the hot stove metaphor.

    My take on the "throw the bums out" impulse from the last election is the failure to understand who's calling the shots for both parties. Will I live long enough for the dots to be connected?

    1. The Dems won't do what we want (a majority of Americans wanted the "public auction," I noticed, and a majority wanted us out of Afghanistan immediately.)

    2. The Repugs won't do what we want. (they don't seem to want to make the cuts that won't devastate the middle class)

    3. Who's really in charge?

    Are we at stage 3 yet? Will we ever be?

  29. Ike Says:

    @Where are the adults:

    I'm a 31 year old military veteran, small business owner, and currently finishing my senior year in an undergraduate history program. I can give you dozens of examples throughout history where leftist policies have contributed to general prosperity. And yes, large-scale public works projects and social programs are a big part of that. Save the attitude, it's not necessary.

    Isaac

  30. Monkey Business Says:

    @Where are the adults?: Just curious, but do you know anything about the history of the United States? Pretty much every major application of left-wing ideaology has been a pretty rousing success.

    Ending slavery? Left-wing.
    Civil rights? Left-wing.
    Social Security? Left-wing.
    Medicare and Medicaid? Left-wing.

    I don't need you to show me a place where high speed rail from Madison to Milwaukee sounds like a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars, because I already know where it is. It's right here, in the good old US of A.

    Now, you're new, so I'm gonna explain to you how it works around here. We're a snarky, mostly liberal bunch. We don't mind conservatives, as long as they're actual conservatives and not the functionally retarded mouthbreathers that pass for conservatives these days. We don't take kindly to Tea Party types. If you're here to troll, go somewhere else. You're not converting any of us, and our combined liberal snark may actually coalesce into a solid energy form and bitchslap you from across the internet.

  31. DS Says:

    To the person who posted this above: wait, you mean that the main plank of Walker's platform was campaigning against receiving federal funds to build a high-speed rail which would create hundreds of jobs? There is so much stupidity in that statement I'm not sure where to start.

  32. Chicagojon Says:

    Sidenote on trains above:

    Chicago-Milwaukee has an Amtrak train service. The 'Hiawatha' service had a record ridership in fiscal year 2010 at 783,060 riders. The service offers 7 daily round trips for $22 and 1.5 hours. The operating cost of this line is $5.5 million/year but most is picked up by the Federal Government. WI only pays $520,000.

    Forgive me, but why are 'we' spending $4+million dollars out of the federal budget to run a train line used by 783k people/year? Is it because trains are cool? For the environment? Because Europe has fast trains and we're jealous? Or is it mis-managed funds thrown at USians who don't want to ride trains and continue to buy sub-20MPG SUV's.

    If I were the wacky Governor of WI I'd cut the train program, too. Fast trains aren't going to "save America" or "create jobs" unless they are combined with higher gas taxes, luxury car surcharges, or other penalties/incentives to stop being stupid with automobiles.

    Fun fact: Chicago-Milwaukee is 81 miles (131km). The high speed rail service from Shanghai to Nanjing is a 187mi (301km). In June it had a DAILY average ridership of 134,000 from 6/1-6/23. If my math is right that's 2,948,000 riders or roughly 4 times the yearly total from Chicago-Milwaukee.

  33. Chicagojon Says:

    @anotherbozo

    The stage 3 that you're looking for is called Revolution. It's what people do when their government is not giving them the choices that they want.

  34. cromartie Says:

    With all due respect, I think Ed's missing a companion point to this piece:

    Elections say something about what the public wants.

    Not really. Elections say something about what people who choose to vote want. And for every voter, there are at least two other citizens who choose not to vote. Acquiescence and apathy speak louder than either of the two warring tribes that constitute our current electorate can. What they're saying, and why they aren't voting says as much, if not more about us as a country than the subset of people who are repeatedly duped into voting against their own economic self interest does.

  35. JohnR Says:

    "As long as the electorate is composed substantially of people who won't understand that the glowing stove is hot until they put their hand on it,.."

    Ah, you optimist! If only we had that. What we have instead is an electorate comprised substantially of people who keep putting their hands on the glowing stove and being stunned and amazed each time that it burns them.
    As for Walker, I think you may mis-estimate him and his compatriots – the danger of real ideologues is that (1) they aren't reasonable and rational (so no negotiation, no "compromise"), and (2) they generally show paternal authoritarianism ("I know what 's best for you, and you had better go to your room now, young man, or there will be trouble!"), so pushing them only makes them more resistant.
    Walker's not the target here; hopefully some of the legislators are still motivated by politics rather than ideology. That's Wisconsin's only real hope. It's been interesting watching the US slide faster and faster since Nixon down the slope to the waiting maw of Christianist fascism. Every year we get to see it more and more clearly, and now Wisconsin. Too bad it's about 10 years too late. You have to give the anti-FDR guys credit; they knew what they had to do: control the press/media and control the judiciary and you control the country. It doesn't take much; disorganize and confuse your Enemies and you're halfway there. A shame that most of the folks on the leftwards side were happier mocking than fighting, but I suppose that's human nature. Hate motivates far more strongly than disdain.

  36. HoosierPoli Says:

    Chicagojon: You have a few sets of numbers and precisely NO context to intelligibly interpret them. The conclusions you draw (trains are a waste of money) are a non-sequitur.

  37. anotherbozo Says:

    @Chicagojon: the movie fan in me loves the dramatic, but we could still HAVE a democracy in this country, with responsive legislators, etc. if we simply voted our interests. Period. The poor and middle class are in the majority in this country!

    All the barricade-mounting heroics would be unnecessary.

  38. Michael Says:

    Normally I eat up everything this blog has to say. But I gotta disagree here. It's a little bit refreshing to see a politician who follows through on his campaign – nutjob out of office, nutjob in office. Imagine, he actually toned down his views to get into office, and once in office, he was MORE than his followers were hoping he'd be.

    Imagine a liberal on the campaign trail, he promises X, gets into office, and wham, he turns out to be MORE LIBERAL than he was on the campaign trail. When was the last time that happened in the US of A? Not within my memory of major political figures.

    So I gotta applaud this guy. His followers want him to teabag liberals. He's following through! Score one for doing what the people who vote for you actually want, even if that is some stupid shit.

  39. Chicagojon Says:

    @HoosierPoli
    Let me try again. Trains are in no way a waste of money. In fact, the high speed train network referenced from Shanghai-Nanjing is a fantastic program for countless millions – not only its ridership, but also from a short term and long term cost perspective and it benefits the entire world for the environmental impact of people using trans instead of cars.

    A high speed rail line from Milwaukee to Madison is stupid. Existing train ridership numbers are meager and the upfront & maintenance costs are high at a time when the state budget is already in debt. Putting the money directly into food stamps would be better for economic stimulus, putting the money into health/education services would be better for the blue-shirted people.

    Please let me know what sets of numbers you'd like to see. Failed train programs in the US? Budget analysis of major US construction projects with highlights on their inefficiencies? A debunking of Keynesian spending during a recession? People smarter than me have said much on all of the above — I was just using this as an excuse to read up on the ridership in the routes involved and check in on the Shanghai-Nanjing corridor which I've had the luxury of riding. (Beijing/Shanghai is another cool one…20 hour train ride reduced to ~4 hours.

    The fact is that people in WI voted for a governor that said he was against big government. Once elected that governor made a decision to not accept federal funds for a program that he felt was inefficient and against the needs of his states. Pretty much the point of the original post. As I said before "If I was the governor of WI I'd cut the train program too"

  40. Monkey Business Says:

    @Chicagojon: Let me ask you this: have you ever ridden Amtrak? It sucks. It's expensive, slow, and generally an unpleasant experience.

    Now, replace that expensive, slow, and unpleasant experience with a cheap, clean, fast, and new and shiny experience, and you think more people are gonna use it? Yeah, I think they will.

    Every so often, I have to drive to Chicago. I would prefer not to. It's a four hour trip and it's really boring. When I can, I take Megabus, which ends up taking 6 hours between loading, driving, and disembarking. Now, if you gave me the option of a 3 hour trip to Chicago from Indianapolis, and told me it would cost $50 round trip, I'd be on that like flies on horse shit.

    My point is this: you can't use current statistics for the train riding populace to extrapolate future ridership because the current trains suck. If you build a better experience from start to finish, they will come. Yes, its a little pie in the sky, but it's pretty standard too.

  41. Southern Beale Says:

    And the protest moves to Indiana!

    Man. This is an amazing thing to watch.

  42. Hobbes Says:

    "A high speed rail line from Milwaukee to Madison is stupid. Existing train ridership numbers are meager…"

    Um, that's cuz there isn't an existing train line from Milwaukee to Madison. I just asked Amtrak.com to get me a train from Madison to Milwaukee, and it has me ride the bus from Madison to Chicago and THEN hop on the Hiawatha in Chicago. And the full trip takes 7 hours, and costs $52. I can, however, take the Badger Bus from Madison to Milwaukee, which takes about 2 hours and costs $17.50. Wonder why no one takes the train…

    I have no idea how much ridership the Badger Bus gets, but to my knowledge, it's substantial – a good deal of the UW-Madison student body is from the Milwaukee area, and it's impractical to keep a car downtown. Parking is upwards of $100/mo if you can find it.

  43. markg Says:

    More so than ignorant voters, the election of Walker is attributable to people who chose not to vote in 2010 at all. In 2008 Obama received 1.6 million votes in Wisconsin, and McCain received 1.2 million. Walker won the 2010 elections with 1.1 million votes to 1 million for his opponent. 700,000 voters stayed home, the vast majority of whom probably would have voted democratic had they bothered, .

  44. Entomologista Says:

    I don't know if the rail line between Milwaukee and Madison needs to be high speed. But a commuter line is a good idea.

  45. Fifth Dentist Says:

    You know who else, once in office, did the things he campaigned on?
    You know who.

  46. cromartie Says:

    @chicagobob Please let me know what sets of numbers you'd like to see

    I've got a number for you.

    $300.

    That's the price a barrel of oil is going to cost you in the year 2020, according to Deutsche Bank. And when oil gets to be that expensive, the only two ways you're going to get from Madison to Milwaukee are horseback and bicycle. And you're going to need to be armed to the teeth.

  47. The Man, The Myth Says:

    @Chicagobob – I agree that trains don't have to be high speed to be a good investment. I would love if we could have the national train system we had before the Interstates re-directed funding for mass transit.

  48. terraformer Says:

    To add to the 'Madison to Milwaukee train is a stupid idea' discussion, consider that a train line is not usually built or planned to be isolated – it would eventually be the foundation of a larger network connecting Madison up to Minneapolis and points west, and from Milwaukee down to Chicago and points east and south. As a Minnesotan who travels too much between Minneapolis and Milwaukee, I'd love to have that option.

  49. David R Says:

    As a Wisconsinite (and a Wisconsinite who attended the protests on Saturday to boot), I'd like to point out that the rejection of the high speed rail was NOT at the core of Walker's campaign.

    Many Walker supporters, including high profile ones, said they voted for him in SPITE of his stance on the high speed rail, not because of it.

    Anger was the core of Walker's campaign. He ran on a platform of anger and few hard facts, either about what he might do, or the real problems Wisconsin faced.

    Only fitting then, that anger combined WITH hard facts about his actions and Wisconsin's fiscal realities is the cause of Walker's current headaches.

    He doesn't seem to be letting it get to him too much though. We'll see if his hubris pays off.

  50. Xynzee Says:

    Hey could someone educate me? These "voter id" laws. Wouldn't these be considered a modern Jim Crow, and therefore unConstitutional? Or do they get special treatment as they're sponsored by the mega rich?

  51. keith Says:

    Why is it conservatives are allowed to be angry and realize electoral success from the emotion, whereas liberals are not (see Dean, Howard, 2004)? Anger from the left in 2004 (and 2000, and 2008…) was (is) justifiable and based in fact. The anger from the right is rather incoherent, if not downright delusional.

  52. Southern Beale Says:

    Keith —

    Oh it's always OK if you are a Republican. Remember during the 2004 campaign, the meme was liberals are "too angry"? Remember that? I do. I remember Harold Ford Jr. telling the Music Row Democrats in Nashville to not be so angry. One woman got up and took the mic and said, "I don't know about you but I'm PISSED OFF!" to cheers from the audience. Hapless Hal told us all we needed to "channel our anger into productive action." Yeah how'd that work out for us?

    Sure, conservatives can show up at rallies with guns strapped to their legs carrying signs threatening revolution and that's just Democracy in action. Liberals show up with signs saying "Republican Walker: Don't F- – – With Wisconsin" (yes the sign used dashes) and right wingers call for the fainting couches.

    It's just another day at the rodeo as far as I'm concerned. There's no rhyme or reason to it. If a liberal does it, it's bad. If a Republican does it, it's wonderful.

    I mean shit, can you imagine if Obama's kids were older and it was revealed during the 2008 campaign that one of the girls was pregnant and unmarried?

  53. jazzbumpa Says:

    Wow — Chris Hayes, subbing for Rachel Maddow, just quoted this blog, and showed this page on the TV screen!

    Let's all have a taco!

    Cheers!
    JzB

  54. jazzbumpa Says:

    Ooops – not this page, but this:

    16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants.

    from "Stand and Deliver."

    Anyway – awesome!
    JzB

  55. jan Says:

    It does not surprise me that many people have not read the bill, as you have, Ed. I worked for the Wisconsin Assembly for 31 years, and I guarantee that most legislators didn't bother reading it. The Governor certainly didn't–he pays people for that.

    Please continue to speak truth. Walker is beginning to pay off his political debts, as this no-bid provision proves. It will get much worse. Our only hope here is that voters wise up fast. We have to wait until next January to recall him, but we'll have plenty of support.

    Meanwhile, we need people like you to keep the flame of democracy lit. Fire it up, bucko!

  56. Shelley Says:

    Great article! You hit the nail on the head. As long as people listen to Fox News or similar agenda motivated news, the Conservatives will never truly understand what is going on in Madison. They are so focused on abortion and the Constitution that they don't really care what is happening in WI, OH, and IN, until in the future when it disrupts their little world, which it will in myriad ways we can't even see right now.

  57. karen marie Says:

    I just got back from dropping off a house guest at the airport who is one of those "voters who are willfully ignorant of what candidates really stand for or so easily duped that a few sound bites can overwhelm all available evidence."

    He described his political views as "centralist." No, really.

    It was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.

  58. erotyka Says:

    O w koncu znalazlam to czego szukalam od dluzszego okresu czasu, jestem wielce dobrze zaskoczona i z nieklamana ciekawoscia bede zagladac na blog czesciej. Pozdrowienia.