Bold ideas are politically shrewd, but, mostly, "Bold" is just a clothes detergent | WisCommunity

Bold ideas are politically shrewd, but, mostly, "Bold" is just a clothes detergent

[img_assist|nid=52888|title=To boldly go....|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=225|height=225]Well, he did warn us, sort of.

No, Scott Walker the candidate never said in the campaign that as governor he would attempt a full 180-degree turn on decades of largely successful and until now not even highly controversial progressive policies in Wisconsin. He didn't say he would seek to gut public employee collective bargaining, roll back renewable energy programs, chop Medicaid, set fire to the budgets of local governments and public school systems, chomp away at abortion rights, whack the state's venerable land preservation program, boost highway spending at the expense of local mass transit, gobble the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor in order to pay for corporate tax cuts, debilitate intercity passenger rail service, or (deep breath!) rescind or hobble dozens of other worthy programs.

But he did telegraph in his campaign that his philosophy was to "go bold" -- or, to put it more accurately and as I said in a long-ago post, go bold-face. And according to Walker, that pronouncement should have sufficed to warn voters that he planned to be daring! and courageous! and, oh yeah, even foolhardly!.

Fact is, a majority of voters would very infrequently choose modern Republican Party candidates if those candidates were ever so candid as to actually list what they'd attempt to do if elected. Rather, GOP pols like Walker pose as moderates or compassionate conservatives (the Bush-inspired oxymoron of the century, so far) and then shift hard right the moment they acquire elected office.

This isn't strictly true, but it's mostly true. You could say, for instance, that Rep. Paul Ryan didn't pull any punches in releasing the House Budget Committee's GOP-majority spending plan, which he crafted. You know, the one that calls for basically turning Medicare into a private program and turning a defined benefit into a defined contribution (which is also what Republicans would like to do to pension systems).

However, Ryan was an incumbent, one who'd already used the "I'm not a moderate, I just play one on TV campaign commercials" gambit. Moreover, he's still busy telling us that his plan to blow up Medicare is actually a plan to save it by (and this is the part where he turns disingenuous) blowing it up. But anyway, that plan is completely necessary, because the federal government, like Wisconsin, is, according to Republicans, broke. Righhhhhht.

Anyway, Americans have always had an affection for anti-heroes who wade in where angels fear to tread, dismissive of red tape and due process. John Wayne. Ah-nold the Governator. The list is endless, both in our society's fiction and our fictional reality. The American norm for problem-solving is (and in some cases literally is) to blow stuff up -- if it ain't broke, break it. That method may be emotionally satisfying and may even prove somewhat enlightening. Problem is, the "bold" affectation and "bold" directives in policy-making are not very often successful, in the long run if not the short run -- Obama pulling the trigger on the bin Laden mission notwithstanding. "Going bold" Walker-style is expensive and unpredictable, but politicians pursue it because they think it's a winning strategy at the polls.

Recently, Maya Schenwere at explained very capably why going bold is so wrong-headed:

... over the course of the past three months, a host of terrible ideas have been lauded simply for being fearless - i.e. too potentially catastrophic to actually implement. This trend puts us in serious danger of ending up with a [federal] budget plan that is a little less extreme, but still catastrophic enough to qualify as "bold" by these strange new standards.

First, a bafflingly significant contingent of the ; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" href="]" target="_blank">House passed Paul Ryan's humanity-slashing budget proposal, praised by much of the media as "bold," "serious" and "; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" href="" target="_blank">courageous." Meanwhile, all 47 Senate Republicans endorsed a balanced-budget amendment that would require supermajority votes to approve any spending in excess of revenues - or to increase revenue (; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" href="" target="_blank">what?). And now, support is building quickly in the Senate for a bipartisan-but-"bold" spending-cap bill. The legislation, cosponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), would impose a rigid annual limit on federal spending, decapitating ; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" href="" target="_blank">Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Pre-emptive nuclear attacks are bold. So are bullfighting and extreme asparagus-eating ; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" href="" target="_blank">competitions. So was the invasion of Iraq.

Since when is boldness, in itself, a virtue, regardless of how it's applied?

So say we all. While, most of us excepting the Republican base.


May 31, 2011 - 9:06am