I love Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Editor of the Nation’s statement that the GOP is “male, pale & stale”.
As I continue to read the policy positions of WI GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker, his positions match up with this characterization. I’ll skip over the “male” and “pale” components, since that is a given, but the “stale” one needs further exploration. Scott Walker’s antidote for what ails the state seems to rest on a single stale and discredited premise that we’ve seen often from the GOP (ala George Bush) – cut taxes by decimating government to “grow the economy”. Nowhere have I seen evidence of any sort of vision on how he wants to help the state grow other than through his efforts to cut taxes.
Especially telling in his lack of vision, imagination and economic development prowess is his position against railroads of the high speed, inter-regional, local commuter or streetcar variety. Instead of jumping on the train and endorsing the economic benefits generated by investment in rail, he continues to see a transportation system solely based on the energy wasting, climate impacting automobile.
As television producer, John Roach, said in a recent Madison Magazine column “Long Train Comin'”:
The smarter argument is that modern train travel is an investment in the interstate highway system of the new century.I feel qualified to hold court on this issue. For thirteen years I drove to Chicago every single Monday morning. Now business takes me to Chicago and Milwaukee weekly. And if any of the rail critics ever bothered to look out the window of the McDonald’s during their three hours of morning coffee they would notice that Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison are becoming one large market. The sooner we make travel efficient and fast between our market centers, the more vital our region will be. Better yet, Madison stands to be the biggest winner as we are the smallest market.
But still folks have Train Anger. To be a helpful guy, I offer you some explanations to use with Rail Haters when they foam at the mouth. Best to speak slowly when doing this.
First, trains are energy-efficient. This means less oil ransom paid to Saudi sheiks, hence they have less money to train terrorists to kill us. Or purchase quality time with our innocent Vegas blondes.
Secondly, train travel is productive time. And a more productive America reduces the odds that we will be purchased by China. iPads, iPhones and laptops abound on trains. You can even plug them in to keep them charged. You cannot do this in a car without risking paraplegia.
The final argument to use in support of trains is the most powerful and effective: The French have a train that goes two hundred miles an hour! Imagine getting to a Brewer game in twenty minutes.
The French can do this. The FRENCH!
And we can’t.
That one gets them every time.
(italics & bold added)
Having had the pleasure of riding France’s TGV multiple times following cross-Atlantic flights to Paris, I understand how rested one feels after transferring from a cramped plane to being able to snack and snooze on a high speed train zipping across France, before renting a car closer to your final destination.
Why can’t this be the model for Wisconsin?
Tourists, business people, conventioneers (yes, even Republicans :)) fly into O’Hare or Mitchell Field and grab the high speed train to Madison or transfer to the KRM Commuter Link, where they proceed to their final destination or to further connections bringing them there.
As author and visionary Dr. Richard Florida (@Richard_Florida) stated in recent tweets about his new book The Great Reset, how new ways of living and working drive post crash prosperity:
“Build the infrastructure of the future, not just patch up that of the past”.
“Infrastructure = platform for growth & development”
“High-speed rail can make cities suburbs of one another” (You listening Mr. Milwaukee County?)
“High-speed rail enables mega-regions to function as integrated economic units”
“High-speed rail speeds the movement of goods, people, and ideas”
I’d suggest that Scott Walker and his economic advisers read books like this and follow visionaries on Twitter like Richard Florida, so that they can learn how misguided their economic development ideas are. His lack of vision on this component of the transportation mix, is enough for me to say that Scott Walker is not fit to hold the Governor’s seat.
Beyond Walker, it is high time for groups like the WMC, the AGC WI, Chambers of Commerce in rail communities and the Wisconsin people to speak out on the benefits of trains for business, for workers and for our state’s economy.
Here ares some suggested Tweeple to for both Walker and you to follow on Twitter to learn more about High Speed Rail: