Friday, June 25, 2010

Not seen and not heard

isconsin Political Fix
not just another blog
July 6, 2010

By Bill Kraus

As far as the mass media knows--or says--there are three candidates for governor of Wisconsin this year.

There are actually many more of them. All are invisible. This is due in part to the diminished press corps. There is a kind of coverage triage in journalism these days. There are many more stories than there are reporters to cover them. Some of them might have been about the invisibles. Since none are, the invisibles stay invisible.

A longtime observer of politics once said about a government hearing, about any political event for that matter, that “if the press isn’t there, it didn’t happen.”

It did, of course, but only those few who were there knew about it.

The invisible gubernatorial candidates do exist of course, but they are not “happening” because nobody is watching them and reporting what they are doing or saying.

At least one of the invisibles who I know about, has made a strenuous effort to become visible by calling on newspapers, offering himself up to TV and radio station interviewers. He is giving speeches to groups where there might be a reporter in the room. No dice.

Another thing the invisibles have in common is that they are unpolitical. This seems to be a virtue this year. The GOP candidate for the US Senate is spending a lot of money to tell voters what he is not. Other “un” candidates are springing up in hopes that elections this year will turn on something as incongruous as “no experience.”

They could.

Another one of the invisibles says that his greatest virtue is that he is not a demonizing partisan. He reports that people can’t sign his nomination papers fast enough once they learn that he is not “one of them.”

The three invisables I know, and who I have chosen not to name, are not capable of or interested in stooping to the meanness, to politics by character assassination, that is in favor these days.

Good for him and for them. It is high time those who have been trashing everyone who doesn’t agree wholeheartedly with them get trashed themselves.

Another invisible has a well thought out way to pay for K-12 education. He believes that education is the central responsibility of the state government and points out that the state constitution writers said so. Can a one-trick pony campaign prevail in these complex times even when the pony is as consequential as providing and paying for this essential service and responsibility? Could be.

The third invisible I know about is still on the fence. His campaign, if there is one, would be built around the idea that it is high time for the state government to quit playing games and dissembling and come clean with the people. He wants the governor and the government to grow up, to tell the truth and to face up to the things it can and should be doing and isn’t. If he does take the plunge, he would be a latter day Adlai Stevenson whose admirable 1952 blunt truth campaign did this. Unfortunately Adlai was up against the iconic and worthy Ike. No chance. So this idea was not widely copied.

None of the invisibles may go anywhere, which is too bad. That seems to be the conclusion of a feature article in the State Journal which lumps all 18 of them as fringe candidates.

What is worse is that there is a shortcut to visibility to notoriety to legitimacy. All they would have to do is make it clear to what remains of the political media that they have a way to fund a multi-million dollar campaign.

Bought and paid for notoriety might not convert into votes, but we would know who they are and why they think we should elect them.

Is this what selecting our political leaders has come to?

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