September 24, 2004
By Bill Kraus
Talk show host: I understand you are anti-choice.
Candidate: I am pro-life.
Talk show host: Then you think that Roe v Wade should be overturned.
Talk show host: This would create a vacuum on the choice question. How would you fill it?
Candidate: Legislation should be passed outlawing abortion.
Talk show host: What penalties should the legislation call for?
Talk show host: You know, women are going to break this law. What will be they be prosecuted for? Murder? Accessory to murder? Conspiring to murder? What?
Editor's note: This is a composite version of several interviews conducted with several candidates on a Madison radio station. Candidates' responses to the last question ranged from dead silence through "We'll talk about that later," to "I don't know; how about a year in jail?"
The latter elicited this response from the talk show host: "For murder?"
September 17, 2004
A Tale of Two Districts
By Bill Kraus
Mary Panzer's response to the primary challenge mounted by Glenn Grothman, reputedly suborned by the right-to-life faction, was to try to prove that she was more of a conservative than he was.
A perfectly respectable moderate with a long history of not succumbing to extremists' pressure did not believe that the support of those voters could overcome the zealous anti-choicers and taxophobics to whom the Grothman campaign was pitched. She tried, instead, to out-Grothman Grothman.
Several miles northwest of Mary's district, a half-term freshman named Louis Molepske faced a primary challenge as well. Louis is a Democrat. He is pro-choice, anti-TABOR, and anti-gun. His challenger was also a Democrat, but took the pro-life, pro-gun, pro-TABOR Grothman route to what he hoped would be victory.
Louis stuck with the positions and the people who had got him to the Legislature in the first place.
Nothing is as simple as this, and the size of Glenn Grothman's victory (79 percent to 21 percent) indicates something else was going on in that district, but there does seem to be a message here about being who you are and playing your own game.
September 10, 2004
It's the votes, stupid
By Bill Kraus
Those who wonder why the Bush campaign makes no serious effort to reach out to the pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage constituencies are not paying attention to the way politics is being played in this new millennium.
As far as the Bush campaign is concerned, those voters are gone. If they are dedicated Republicans, they may be so offended by being snubbed that they simply will not vote. But the more pragmatic view is that they are Democrats who are going to vote for Kerry for other reasons as well as these. These votes and voters are irretrievable.
And furthermore, there is a risk of playing to them. This may alienate the "my way, all the way, or no way" factions that have become crucial to the Bush campaign (to all campaigns for that matter) for one compelling reason: They vote.
Until and unless the moderate middle, the politically homeless vote in large enough numbers to be worth the candidates' attention, this is the way the political world is going to work.
The power has shifted and shifted dramatically to the single issue, hard-line factions, and that is the game the candidates have to play.
Want to change the game? Start voting in numbers too large to be ignored.
September 3, 2004
To demonstrate or not to demonstrate
By Bill Kraus
Demonstrators past did a couple of things that advanced their causes. The civil rights demonstrators exposed a lot of dirt that had been swept under a lot of rugs. The anti-Vietnam demonstrators were so numerous that the idea of re-examining why we were there and whether or not we should get out had to be dealt with.
The anti-Bush demonstrators who are making life difficult for New Yorkers this week are telling us something we already know. There is a very large Anybody But Bush segment out there. What we do not know is whether it is big enough to win the election for John Kerry. And no amount of demonstrators or demonstrating is going to tell us that. We will find out in November. So why are they demonstrating?
A longtime New Yorker and Democrat who raised this question to me suggests that there is a possibility that the demonstrators could be doing their cause and their candidate a disservice by raising the question "Do I really want these people to be running the country?" among the undecided and indifferent.
Maybe they should be going door to door somewhere instead.