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Northwest Wisconsin is having another election May 12th. This is a special election in the 7th Congressional district to select a new member for the House of Representatives. The contrast between the two candidates is huge.
Tricia Zunker is campaigning on real issues facing Wisconsin. She talks about health care access, prescription drug costs, family supporting wages, student debt, clean water to drink, improving our schools, and having honest elections. She has thoughtful, specific explanations of her positions on her website.
Tom Tiffany is running on empty slogans. He wants to “fight socialism” and “defend freedom.” His campaign website is full of inane statements about “standing with Trump,” “out-of-control spending,” ending “over-regulation,” and “draining the swamp.” But these meaningless sound bites are not the real problems facing Wisconsin residents.
We will either have a representative of the people or a representative of big money and out-of-state corporate interests. But first a few comments on voting during a pandemic.
Republicans constantly work to make it harder to vote and to maintain an undemocratic process. They have gerrymandered voting districts, passed unnecessary voter ID laws, reduced numbers of polling places, weakened campaign contribution laws, and tightened early and absentee voting restrictions. During the current pandemic they refused postpone the April 7th election or to allow broader absentee voting despite the danger to voters and poll workers.
The April 7 election saw 34% of eligible voters vote. This was record for a Supreme Court election and the “liberal” candidate won. Over one million absentee ballots were filed. On May 12 it is critical that EVERYONE VOTES. If you are worried about the virus vote early or by absentee ballot. Call your municipal clerk to get the details. DON'T LET THE REPUBLICANS SUPPRESS YOUR VOTE.
The choice for Congress on May 12 is very clear. A look at each candidate's own words on their websites speaks volumes.
Tricia Zunker identifies eight issues she thinks are important: “Health care, the Farm Crisis, Education and Children, Standing up for Working People and Protecting Equality, The Economy & Infrastructure, the Environment, Campaign Finance Reform, and Criminal Justice Reform.” These broad categories indicate concern for people and a desire to address real problems. Within each category she discusses serious solutions. Many of these are typical liberal policy objectives and you may not agree with them. But she is at least honestly telling voters what she believes and what she will try to do to accomplish.
Tom Tiffany lays out 14 issues he will champion: “Standing with President Trump, Reducing the Deficit and Cutting Spending, Building an Pro-jobs Economy, Protecting the Unborn, Draining the Swamp, Securing Our Southern Border, Defending the 2nd Amendment, Championing Agriculture, Supporting Rural Veterans, Continuing Energy Independence, Making Healthcare Affordable, Encouraging a Convention of the States, Working for Free and Fair Trade, and Delisting the Grey Wolf.“
These are slogans, not real issues, most people are worried about. Nor is it clear what is meant by these statements. Several are standard conservative talking points (cutting deficits, promoting jobs). Some are simply throwing red meat to the rabid base. They are intended to fire up the racist, xenophobic, gun nuts. Tom is obviously running on Trump's coat tails. Several sound OK (health care, free trade, energy independence) until you read between the lines for what he is actually advocating.
The issue of delisting wolves is simply ridiculous. Tom claims a wolf population of 1000 (in 5.6 million humans statewide) is hurting tourism and property values. There is NO evidence for these statements. Tom apparently believes in fairy tales.
One issue (protecting the unborn) is very clear. Tom does not think women should control their own bodies or reproductive choices.
These “issues” do reflect Tom's ideological rigidity, limited knowledge, and lack of substance. If elected he will be a compliant, rubber stamp for big money and corporate interests. Taking a closer look at several issues will further illustrate this statement and the contrast with Tricia Zunker.
Lack of health insurance and the extreme costs of healthcare are major issues. The current pandemic illustrates the failure of our expensive, fragmented, for profit, health insurance system. Tricia says “No one should die because they can’t afford to go to the doctor.“ No one should go bankrupt paying medical debts and everyone should have access to affordable health care. She supports a voluntary “Medicare for All” as an addition to the Affordable Care Act options. This may not be the best solution but at least she is talking about possible solutions.
Tom rants about universal health insurance being “socialism.” He believes free markets and competition will solve the problems. This ideological belief is not supported by reality. For many decades competition has FAILED to lower costs of health care. We have the most expensive, and least successful, healthcare system in the world, because free market healthcare is about profit and NOT controlling costs. Tom is simply wrong on this issue. He appears to be stuck in his ideological beliefs and unable or unwilling to look at real solutions.
Support for public education is another significant issue. Tricia supports well funded public schools. She says, “Higher education must be made accessible and affordable. We need to begin to tackle the growing student debt crisis.” She believes local community colleges and trade schools are essential for people and the economy. She believes educators deserve respect and should be valued for the important work they do.
Tiffany doesn't support local public schools and his voting record as a Wisconsin legislator prove it. He has repeated voted for school voucher programs that weaken public schools and DO NOT provide better education for students. He voted to expand school vouchers statewide which provides tax dollars for private, mostly religious, schools. He supported Scott Walker's $4 billion cuts to public school funding.
There is a bumper sticker that says, “Voting is like driving: 'D' is for going forward and 'R' is for going backward. ”
If you are concerned about health, protecting the environment, public schools, women's rights, decent wages, and improving the economy for every one and not just the top 1%, you need to vote for Tricia Zunker. We need a representative who cares about people, isn't blinded by political ideology, and has the ability to look for real solutions to our problems. Tricia Zunker is clearly the better choice to represent us.