The Year in Review: Surprise, Wisconsin.

Many in Wisconsin reacted with surprise, as if they hadn’t known what to expect from their new governor.  And, of course, they had no way of knowing.

We elected a guy who went all the way through election-day without revealing his most important idea. Depending on one’s perspective, it was either a brilliant coup of modern ad-based campaigning, or a death-rattle for meaningful elections. A general outline of democracy — campaigning then voting — had been observed, but the actual content — the plan and platform of Wisconsin’s new governor — had never been laid out for the voters.

This was an astonishing fact. Voters have many times been disappointed when candidates failed to live up to their promises. But here we had an election where the winning candidate had patently concealed his real intentions, and then rammed them through after gaining office.

By foolishly taking a phone call from a fake billionaire supporter, we have a transcript that no legitimate reporter could ever have obtained from the newly elected governor (emphasis is ours):

…you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday, or excuse me, the Monday right after the 6th. Came home from the Super Bowl where the Packers won, and that Monday night I had all of my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were gonna do, how we were gonna do it. We’d already kinda built plans up, but it was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb.

Meanwhile, back at the offices of the Wisconsin State Journal, no alarm bell rang. If there’s anything wrong with running for office with a secret plan to damage a) thousands of ordinary lives, and b) the idea of democracy itself, the Journal wasn’t going to be bothered by it.

Is it even possible to imagine how democracy will operate in the future if candidates simply withhold their agendas until after the election? Will voters get by with gut-instinct, guesswork, fortune tellers, attack ads and robocalls?

The ‘strategically darkened’ campaign of Governor Walker was an assault on the very idea of voting, but never a word from the Wisconsin State Journal editorial writers.