Is Wisconsin broken politically?
Some people are asking. In the case of several recent high-priority, high-profile issues, it seems elected leaders have retreated into their respective political camps rather than attempt to address the collective needs of the state.
The April primary election and the Supreme Court ruling on the safer-at-home declaration are two examples. Our nation might never have gotten off the ground if our Founders used a similar approach to problem resolution.
Of course, Wisconsin is not unique to divisive politics. Nationally, the divide between the two major political parties has grown dramatically in the last 15 years.
Pew Research has been tracking partisan beliefs for the past 25 years. Pew asked people who are declared Republicans and Democrats to respond to common core questions.
In 1994 and 2004, the median beliefs on core issues were actually fairly close, unlike where they are today.
In a related study, Pew Research determined that the overwhelming factor in the growing political divide is not race, education-level, religious attendance, age or gender. Rather it is political party loyalty.
As an elected official, an ethical leader should work to represent the needs of their entire constituency, not just those who belong to the same political party.
Unfortunately, the actions in Wisconsin during the pandemic are following this divisive political pattern.
The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a virus that does not determine those infected based upon their political party affiliation. It should be viewed as a common enemy, with a threat to both the health of our population and to our economic well-being.
Elected officials should focus on the needs of the people of Wisconsin and commit every effort to address both of these threats, not pick sides.
As citizens, we should be looking for the elected officials from both parties to stand up to their own party leaders and promote common-sense, collaborative actions to meet the pandemic threat head on.
It is our best way through this. And it might open the door to a better, healthier political process in our state.
Lee Rasch is executive director of LeaderEthics-Wisconsin.
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