To Turn Voters Out, You Need to Turn Them on

There’s no magic to winning elections, you just need to have the most votes.

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How the actions and poor decisions of Scott Walker and the Republican majority in the state Legislature have hurt Wisconsin is well publicized and widely known. To the progressive leaders and activists who hope to replace the Republicans, what people need to hear from you is not just another recitation of the failures of Scott Walker and his gang, but rather how you intend to make Wisconsin better.

There’s a saying that good policy makes good politics. And there is no better real world example of this than talking about the issues that matter and how you’re prepared to lead on them to a bloc of voters who can make, or break, your electoral prospects.

Millennial and Generation X voters now comprise the largest electoral bloc in the United States, and in Wisconsin. They face economic and financial challenges that have never before existed. Like previous generations, they are looking to their elected leaders to offer solutions to help them get the fair shot at the middle class that education and hard work have provided to those who have gone before them.

That’s why we are pushing the Tomorrow Wisconsin agenda, focusing on five key issues:

  • Student loan debt refinancing.
  • Paid family and medical leave and sick days.
  • Affordable child care.
  • Job security and livable wages.
  • Access to state pension system.

Too many people in our generations who work hard and play by the rules are feeling like no matter what they do, their goal of economic security is always out of reach. Stagnant wages, skyrocketing student loan debt and rising costs for essentials for multi-income families, like child care, are leaving Wisconsin families feeling the financial pinch. They’re struggling to save for their retirement, and an extended personal or family illness could mean economic disaster.

The good news is that state legislation has already been introduced by Democrats to address many of these challenges, like a plan to help student loan borrowers refinance their loans just like you can with a mortgage; a plan to allow private-sector workers to participate in the state pension system; the restoration of the state equal pay law for women and men; income tax credits for child care; and lifting limits on expanding the family and medical leave law.

However, the opposition of Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature has stymied action on issues like helping student loan borrowers and restoring state equal pay protections while the GOP panders to the wealthy and corporations. Not only are Wisconsin families poorer for the GOP’s obstruction, but Wisconsin is falling behind while other states that are taking action are benefiting from vibrant economies.

There’s no magic to winning elections, you just need to have the most votes. So for progressives running to win, you need remember that if you want to turn voters out, you have to turn them on. That’s why we’re all in on the Tomorrow Wisconsin economic agenda. How about you?

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Scot Ross served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute from 2007 to 2019. Analiese Eicher is the executive director at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute. She previously served on the Dane County board, and is a former lobbyist for the United Council of UW Students.