Saturday, August 22, 2020

Analyzing WISGOP's Crocodile Tears over Joe Biden Not Coming to WI

REPUBLICANS INSIDE-AND-OUTSIDE OF WISCONSIN are trying to suggest the decision for the Democratic National Convention not to happen in Milwaukee this past week (which was made because of concerns over coronavirus) was somehow a slight to the city and the state by Democrats and Joe Biden.

Here are a few of their supposed complaints:

  • Donald Trump suggested it on Twitter on Saturday. "Biden and the Democrats have greatly disrespected the Great State of Wisconsin by not even paying a small visit to Milwaukee, the designated site of the DNC," he wrote.

  • Former Gov. Scott Walker also whined about Biden not coming to the state, tweeting that the Democratic nominee for president was "blowing off Wisconsin and the voters" here.

  • Assembly Republican Majority Leader Jim Steineke quoted Trump's tweet, adding to it, "He's not wrong" (truth is, Trump/Steineke are wrong...more on that below). 

  • In a separate tweet, Steineke also implied Biden, giving his nomination speech (and a fireworks display) in his home state of Delaware, was less safe than it would have been to do in Wisconsin. "We have 18 deaths per 100,000 ppl," he pointed out, while in "Delaware, where they just held the #DemConvention, they’re at 61 per 100k."

There are two points to address in these criticisms — first, whether it was a better idea based on the numbers for Democrats to do a virtual convention (versus having all of the delegates, speakers, and Biden appear in Milwaukee); and second, whether or not the decision to have the virtual convention was a slight toward the state.

Let's address the first point before we investigate whether we can say Biden is "dissing" Wisconsin or not.

Steineke's specific points above — the per capita effects of coronavirus in both states — aren't completely wrong, but they're also misleading. Delaware, as an east coast state, had to deal with coronavirus much earlier than Wisconsin did, and saw more death per capita as a result of that. 

How things stand right now, however, is a far different story, and that's really what matters more. Whether Delaware fared worse from the start of the pandemic to this point is really not so much a worry, in terms of where Biden should have given his speech, versus how things fare right now in both states.

Comparing both states' 7-day averages of new cases being reported (Delaware's numbers/Wisconsin's numbers) as of the evening of August 22, and comparing them on a per capita basis (Wisconsin has 5.822 million residents, Delaware has just over 970,000), demonstrates a clear-as-day result: it was a better idea for Biden (and for that matter, the rest of the country) not to travel to Wisconsin this week.

Indeed, by looking at those numbers, Wisconsin's rate of coronavirus cases being reported this past week shows that we're reporting a per capita number that's DOUBLE what Delaware is reporting right now.

Comparing the two states on the number of deaths from COVID-19 is, admittedly, a closer comparison: the two are virtually the same in that regard (Wisconsin has a 0.27 percent higher rate). But Delaware's rate of deaths from coronavirus has been virtually unchanged since the start of July, whereas Wisconsin's has gone up by nearly 33 percent during that time. 

Seeing that cases, on a per capita basis, are almost double in Wisconsin what they are in Delaware — and also seeing that the number of deaths is going up in the Badger State while staying flat in the First State — the decision to hold a virtual convention this year, and for Biden to speak in Delaware at the end of it all, was probably a wise one.

Now, onto the second point: whether the decision to not travel to the state was a hurtful/spiteful one to Wisconsinites.

This is an easy one to answer: no, it was not. In fact, it was a respectful decision to not bring travelers from across the country to Milwaukee, likely spreading the disease in a monumental way, which would have hurt the city and state alike. 

The Republicans above and others are trying to suggest Biden wouldn't come to Wisconsin at all during this campaign. Actually, Biden has made it his prerogative not to travel anywhere, not to do any campaigning at all, until it's safe to do so. That's a pledge he made back in June, one that treats Wisconsin and other states equally.

How doe the people of our state feel? They return Biden's feelings, and largely disagree with the arguments that Republicans are making this week. The Marquette Law School poll in June asked whether both conventions (Democrats AND Republicans) should or should not meet this year, with coronavirus in the back of peoples' minds. Just 39 percent said it'd be fine to meet in person for the conventions, while 53 percent said they should not.


There's a third point to all of this that I purposely saved to the end: it's my opinion that Republicans don't actually care about whether the Democratic convention happened in Milwaukee or not. For years, they've derided the city as being "outside" of the rest of the state. So why the sudden "concern" over Biden not coming to Wisconsin?

I can't speak for them, but to me, it would appear to be an attempt to divide Wisconsinites, to make them feel anger toward Biden where none is deserved. His actions are justifiable, and they're in no way meant to be construed as an insult to Milwaukee or to the state in general. Yet, Republicans in Wisconsin want to play them off that way, hoping to score political points through such rhetoric.

Consider what that says about how they feel about their candidate for president. Rather than defend Donald Trump, or go after Biden on substance, they focus their attacks on Joe Biden with phony complaints that disregard the realities that exist under a global pandemic.

I personally won't be casting my vote for president based on who appears in photo ops in front of a Culver's restaurant or Kwik Trip gas station. My vote is going to be based on who is the better leader, and which party has a better vision for America's future.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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