2012: A Fight For The Future
When you do 15 hours of live radio a week, it's easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of the stories of the day. Given the need to come up with ten or more topics daily that will challenge, inform, interest - and yes, entertain - a large audience, there's a tendency to focus on what's happening at any given moment.
That's why taking the last week off has given me a chance to focus on the bigger picture. The "macro" approach, if you will.
In looking at that bigger picture, I'm more convinced than ever that 2012 will be a watershed year both for the nation and for Wisconsin. It's truly going to be a fight for the future - and the stakes have never been greater.
Nationally, my guess is that Barack Obama will be running for re-election against Mitt Romney. Obama says that in his first two years, he's accomplished more legislatively than any other President - with the possible exceptions of Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln! If you consider exploding the federal deficit in a bungled attempt to revive the economy and starting the country on a path towards socialized medicine to be "accomplishments", I guess he has a point.
Regardless of his extremely inflated view of his own success, poll numbers show that the American people are less impressed with Obama's performance. That's why Mitt Romney is so right in framing the 2012 Presidential election as a choice between Obama's "entitlement society" and an "opportunity society". In other words, is the American Dream still alive or are the voters of this country willing to simply give up and become Europe?
We'll find out in November.
In Wisconsin, the stakes absolutely could not be higher. In just a year, Governor Walker took a State with huge financial problems and managed to essentially balance the budget with no tax increases, no significant cuts in public services and no major layoffs of public employees. The price of these accomplishments was a challenge to the historical power of public employee unions and modest contributions to health care costs and pensions by public employees.
As an aside, my favorite e-mail of the year was from a prison guard named "George" who complained that his wife couldn't make Christmas cookies and his kids would do without this Holiday season because he had to pay a bit more for his health insurance and contribute toward his pension plan. The kicker? The guy made almost $61,000 in 2010. Yeah, life is tough in an entitlement society.
Rather than being thankful for continued employment, public employee unions - and outside agitators - have behaved like spoiled, out-of control-children. In a few months, we'll find out whether the majority of Wisconsin voters want to reward this type of behavior - and return to the days of uncontrolled and unsustainable spending?
So, regardless of whether we're discussing the Presidential race, the Walker recall, the fight for Herb Kohl's soon to be vacant seat (which may well determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate) or all the other contested Federal, State or local elections, 2012 will truly be a fight for the future.
If you care about the future of this State and this country, these are battles that must be won.
And that's the "macro" view!