If the truth matters, Scott Walker has much to overcome if he is to survive the recall.
Updating the record
Scott Walker is a radical extremist who has created a path that has taken Wisconsin from a state with a rich history of Progressive ideas and institutions to a fragmented "everyone for himself" laboratory of Ayn Rand and the Koch brothers. He does this by posing as a devout Christian while distancing himself from following the basic tenet of most religions to "treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves" (often called the golden rule). Walker has a record of hypocrisy and has tarnished his brief tenure of governor. He has been caught in multiple public lies and distortions.
Who is Scott Walker? In the early 1990s Walker, while attending Marquette University, ran unsuccessfully for the student body president. In the campaign, the campus newspaper's editorial board stated Walker and his opponent "had the potential to serve effectively." As the campaign unfolded, Walker commited multiple campaign violations resulting in the editorial board to revise their assesment of Walker's candidacy stating that he was "unfit for the presidency." He left Marquette in his senior year without graduating.
Walker served in the State Assembly from 1993-2002. He was most noted for cracking down on crime and curtailing welfare programs. Walker authored a bill aimed at "truth in sentencing" that effectively ended the practice of shaving time off prisoners sentences for good behavior. This, along with similiar measures, contibuted to Wisconsin having a prison population twice the size of Minnesota's even though the two states have comparable sized populations.
Walker became the Milwaukee County Executive due to a recall of Tom Ament in 2002. He, ironically and hypocritically has since said that he doesn't believe in recalls when confronted with the fact that he was being recalled.
In May 2010 Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm initiated a John Doe probe looking into various activities in Milwaukee County during Walker's time as county executive. Up to this point prosecutors have brought charges against three ex-walker aides, one appointee and a major campaign contributor. Chisolm has hinted that there may be additional charges in the near future. Walker has created a legal defense fund which the law requires that you must be either already charged or are currently being investigated in order to create the fund. Since John Doe proceedings are secret there is great suspense about whether Walker will be charged with any crimes. At this point it is known that Walker has spent at least $107,000 dollars on related attorney's fees and has assembled some renowned attorneys to stand by if needed.
Paul Fanlund, editor of The Capital Times, wrote in an April 2012 article about John Dean's research in his book Conservatives Without Conscience. Dean, who was a White House lawyer and confidante of President Richard Nixon, writes of Walker: "If I lived in Wisconsin, I would be uncomfortable with this man, whom I find more Nixonian than even Richard Nixon himself (the authoritarian leader with whom I was, and am so very familiar.)" Dean says his research suggests Walker is a "classic authoritarian," which he defines as someone who seeks to dominate others, opposes equality, strongly desires personal power, and is amoral. Fanlund corresponded with Dean about the Walker/Nixon comparison. Dean related that he saw Walker's "union busting" and our massive protests in the national media. "His style struck me as stikingly Nixonian, so I began reading more about him." Dean notes how "Walker undercut public employee unions to increase his own power and how he has made more jobs political positions instead of civil service positions." Dean stated that Walker's "lying is notorious," pointing to his record with Politifact Wisconsin, which found that the vast majority of Walker's statements it examined ranged from "half truths" to "pants-on-fire false." Dean notes "that many people confuse a strong leader with an authoritarian leader. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower were strong leaders, but not authoritarians."
In conclusion, Dean told Fanlund, "Democracy and democratic institutions do not function well with dogmatic, unbending, authoritarian leaders." Dean emphasized that authoritarians are "failures as presidents and governors and...they can be dangerous to democracy."
On January 3, 2011 Walker said, "We will work tirelessly to restore economic growth and vibrancy to this state. My top three priorities are jobs, jobs and jobs." In the last year Wisconsin has lost more jobs than any other state in the union. According to the Institute for Wisconsin's Future, recently passed Act 10 reduced take-home pay for hundreds of thousands of people employed by schools, communities and the state by an average of nearly $3,000 annually each. The 2011-2013 state budget cuts about two billion dollars a year from education, city and county operations, medical care, help for the elderly, child care and protection, park and environmental maintenance, and on and on. This budget cut aid for low-income families while reducing taxes for corporations. The Walker administration rejected hundreds of millions of federal dollars by abandoning major projects and failing to maintain requirements for matching funds. The indirect "ripple" effects ot these policies are costing Wisconsin more than 18,000 full-time jobs in a year.
Walker has demonized goverment employees at all levels with efforts to outsource many government functions to the private sector with little accountability. He has attacked public education and teachers with a meaness and ferocity never seen in Wisconsin. His ideal is to privatize education by increasing the use of vouchers and charter schools. Funds are transfered from public schools to private schools while increasing public school standards that do not apply to private schools. In this environment home schooling is growing significantly, but they have zero standards to meet and no means for accountability. Public schools will be left with more problem students and children with expensive special needs while cutting their funds.
Educating our youth is our main investment in the future. It is clear that Walker's policy is driven by an ideology of destruction that does not give a damn about positive outcomes for our children's education or the negative impact on our democratic institutions that maintain a stable democracy.
Past traditions recognized that secular, public education is a main bulwark for maintaining a healthy democracy. Walker's policy ensures that we will be reduced to a fragmented society with a message to all of "It's everyone for himself." Walker must go if we want a ghost of a chance to save our beloved state.
May 10, 2012
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Bob Menamin lives in Verona and is a former Wisconsin Assembly candidate.