Civil Discourse Missing from Walker's Democracy

Scott Walker’s continued refusal to negotiate sheds light on the new “tactic” that threatens global development, obstructionism. After Congress finally made progress regulating the 1800s delay tactic of the filibuster, this comes as a major setback to addressing the US’s critical issues. Politicians and their allies are focusing on flexing political muscle in place of dealing with the issues at hand on both sides. Which raises several important questions. First, is it the responsibility of those in charge to thoroughly address the concerns of the people they represent? Second, is this further evidence of American politician’s inability to conduct civil discourse about pressing issues? Lastly, what example does this type of leadership set for not only future generations but for governments globally?

Opinion over Responsibility

Americans celebrate the gift of elected officials, not something every nation in the World has the opportunity to enjoy. Yet, when those officials fail to work with the people they represent geographically, regardless of political orientation, disappointment lurks around the corner. Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, took this failure to a new level with his firm stance to ignore those opposed to his point of view and then leverage his political role to punish those in government who disagreed with him.

Regardless of which side of the debate a person falls on, his actions are reprehensible because they go against basic human nature. Humans are a communal species, meaning we best survive when we work together. Walker openly states that although he will “listen” to the opposing view, he will not value it or consider it for decision-making purposes. A disappointing statement, given his role as a civil servant, which entails representing and protecting the people he is determined to shut out. The larger question of his true motives is hidden behind the outrageous fanfare of his actions. It is disappointing that an elected official refuses to be transparent, and that they hide behind the letter of the law in place of upholding the spirit of the law. Some consider his actions an abuse of power.

The Threat of No Civil Discourse in a Democracy

One of democracy’s key components is supposed to be civil discourse, in which individuals discuss critical issues as adults to better illuminate and understand the different sides of an issue. In this case, Walker has openly stated that he will listen but not act on anything he hears. His inability to intake new or differing opinions, along with the lack of transparency on why his decisions will better the State of Wisconsin and address their budget issues over other more strategic cuts does not bode well for him. Failing to demonstrate political prowess, respect for his fellow Wisconsinites, and the courage to openly debate his decision hint at something deeper. The United States is seeing an increasing amount of politicians incapable of civil discourse. This is a disturbing revelation given the average age and schooling of politicians. Similar to the health care debate, or lack there of, it is not only the American people who are missing from the debate table. It is the “opposition” in which both political parties have absolutely refused to debate certain issues.

Typically, when an individual feels they are in the right, they are willing to discuss and even debate their position. When a political party takes a stand, they spend an incredible amount of time and money on promoting that position. Yet, when an opposing position arrives, each party seems to retreat in their own way, in place of gathering their thoughts and engaging in a transparent public debate. The type of obstructionism that Walker is leveraging in Wisconsin highlights this inability to discuss pressing issues in an adult manner, something that has both parents and international government concerned.

Don’t Follow the Leader

The behaviors displayed in political obstructionism go against basic teachings from Kindergarten, where we learn to play and share with others, we make decisions for the betterment of the group and honesty rules. The top-down approach utilized by Walker and other politicians is not the same type of leadership children and Millennials are learning, which is a hybrid between top-down and bottom-up management. Yet the larger issue of concern is what this type of inability to discuss and negotiate in the public eye communicates to other Countries. Leadership that refuses to listen to the people it has been installed to lead, and that hides behind politics in place of addressing the concerns of its people sounds like the story from too many third world nations suffering from political unrest. It is shocking to find this level of obstructionism and lack of transparent leadership with the ability to negotiate fair terms in one of the most developed nations in the World.

For those sincerely concerned with debt, failing to address constituents and dragging out a political debate hardly seems like the pro-active approach to addressing the budgetary issues the US is currently suffering. It is the hope of many that an adult conversation can take place to rectify in the situation, despite the lack of political leadership.