Politics behind the pandemic – WAOW

Wisconsin (WQOW) -Tension appears to be growing between Democrats and Republicans as state GOP leaders move forward with their suit to stop the Safer-at-Home extension, and hundreds of Wisconsinites continue to protest the order.

From fear to fury, Wisconsin residents are torn over whether the state economy should re-open. With both sides of the political aisle seemingly going head-to-head, one political science expert said this behavior is not unexpected.

"If you look at most other democracies in the world, you don't see this happening," said Geoffrey Peterson, the UWEC political science head. "You tend to see the parties actually coming together to try and address what's happening. I also think, honestly, this is just a reflection of the nature of American politics."

Because COVID-19 has become a partisan issue, Peterson said it makes sense that voters are now reacting through public displays such as protests.

"I think if you had a situation where both parties came together on major issues, I think you'd see a lot of this tension disappear," Peterson said. "But the fact that the parties have chosen to kind of stake out positions on this and turn this into an argument, then not surprisingly voters do the same thing because they're following the leadership of their party."

One of the largest demonstrations of political divide amid COVID-19 is the recent decision of state Republican leaders to file suit against Andrea Palm, the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for the Safer-at-Home extension.

"Basically, they're saying to the Supreme Court, 'she didn't follow the rules. The rules were broken. So we should then be able to stop this because it's an illegal order,'" attorney Harry Hertel explained, emphasizing the legality in question is centered around authoritative power.

"So she's basically utilized emergency powers. The question being: was there a procedure she didn't take? Was there a requirement of a time frame she didn't follow? Was this beyond the scope of the authority she had either directly from the statutes, or in the alternative an extension of the power of the executive branch to take action?" Hertel said.

As Wisconsin awaits a ruling, Peterson said one thing is certain when it comes to American politics during a pandemic.

"Is a pandemic truly a political issue? Probably not, but in The United States everything is a political issue right now," Peterson said.

As for the upcoming 2020 presidential election, Peterson said it's possible some Wisconsinites will sway their votes based on how President Trump and former Vice President Biden continue to handle this pandemic.

Peterson also said that as more uncertainty surrounds the pandemic, it's difficult to predict much with this year's campaigns.

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Politics behind the pandemic - WAOW

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