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Sep 1, 201510:17 AMTransportation Matters

with Debby Jackson

What can we learn from the Trump phenomena?

(page 1 of 2)

No matter where you stand on Donald Trump, there is no arguing that he has taken the presidential race by storm. Pundits and casual observers alike continue to debate how high his ceiling is and offer reasons why his message is resonating with a significant number of Americans.

I have to confess, I have wondered the same thing. After his comment about not wanting to hang out with military people who were captured, I was certain he was done. I was wrong. Many of us were wrong.

Most analysts offer some version of the insight that he is “tapping into the anger many Americans are feeling.” Well, that is all well and good, but I think there are plenty of candidates seeking to tap into that same deep vein. Let’s face it, voters and taxpayers have been miffed for a while now.

I have to admit, however, there was a moment recently when I understood how his message could break through some of the clutter.

Trump was speaking at a rally in Hampton, N.H., when a NASA space technology research fellow asked where he stands on NASA plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s. The Donald answered in a familiarly condescending tone when he said, “Sure, send people to Mars. Of course! Wonderful! Why not? But, let’s fix the roads and bridges first, yes?”

Abrasive? Yes. But you have to admit his point is hard to argue. One of the things that seems to lead to this deep well of animus toward our elected leaders, especially at the federal level, is an inability to prioritize.

Then there was a tragic accident in Philadelphia where an Amtrak train derailed, killing seven and injuring more than 200 people. Mr. Trump tweeted the next day: “Amtrak crash near Philadelphia, train derails — many hurt, some badly. Our country has horrible infrastructure problems. Pols can’t solve.”

Not shockingly, many criticized his timing and accused Trump of politicizing a tragedy. But there was clarity in his message that resonates. We all see what is happening to our infrastructure. We experience it every day. Politicians talk about it every day. But nothing changes. Empty talk about the importance of our transportation infrastructure is as common as kissing babies and handing out buttons. Real leadership on this issue has been as elusive as finding life on Mars.


Sep 23, 2015 08:14 am
 Posted by  Matt Logan

"Transportation infrastructure is the one area where even the most laissez-faire business people will say that government can have a tangible, positive impact on the economy."

They may say that, and it may have even been true in the 1970's, But study after study shows the returns to our economy have been dropping since that time. Today, highway investment may actually be hurting the economy in Wisconsin.

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About This Blog

 Debby Jackson assumed the role of executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin after more than 15 years with the organization. In addition to her vast experience in association management and transportation advocacy, Jackson has a background in business. She leverages the breadth and depth of her professional experience, along with her knowledge of the membership and mission of TDA, to be a strong voice for robust transportation infrastructure in Wisconsin. Jackson started her career as a staff auditor with Price Waterhouse, which led to a series of accounting and corporate management positions with a major national retailer.

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