The bad news is that most Americans have lost faith in our national leaders. Only 32%, according to a 2022 Pew Research survey, have a favorable opinion of the “federal government in Washington.”
The better news is that 54% have a favorable opinion of their state government, and even more — 66% — have a favorable opinion of their local government.
If our democracy is going to be reinvigorated, if we can once again become civil toward each other and discuss real solutions to engrained problems, it will have to happen in the states. Wisconsin can lead the way in that.
There is always mudslinging during any campaign — and the state song here in Wisconsin has never been “Kumbaya.” (It’s “On, Wisconsin!”) But the state Capitols, perhaps most Americans realize, are where citizens and their representatives can at the right time still get stuff done.
We put this compilation of policy recommendations together with the belief that in Wisconsin that time is now.
I often tell people that what we do at the Badger Institute is simple. We find the smartest people in America and ask them to tell us how we can do better — how we can ensure opportunity and enable prosperity for all. Many of them have written for us for years, and the chapters and recommendations contained in this “Mandate for Madison” reflect that experience and wisdom. Please read what they have to say, and encourage your elected officials to read it as well — then act.
We will make sure they all have copies — and will be actively advocating for passage of all the recommendations.
I am grateful to the researchers and writers who helped us compile this book. Please read their bios as well as their analyses. I know you’ll be impressed. I am also immensely grateful for our board of directors — unpaid volunteers who donate their time out of love and concern for this state.
If you are a donor to the Institute, thank you. This book is the product of your hard work as much as ours. If you are not a donor, please consider becoming one. Your legacy will be a better state for your children and grandchildren.
Finally, I want to thank Patrick McIlheran, our erudite policy director who edited the lion’s share of the “Mandate” and wrote a chunk of it as well; Michael Jahr, our self-effacing vice president of communications and government relations who wrote several of the chapters without bylines; Mabel Wong, the best copy editor in Wisconsin; and Robert Helf, our uber-talented graphic designer. They all put in countless hours, and the Institute is lucky to have them.
Mike Nichols, Badger Institute President