Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Walker and Joe McCarthy: "Have you no decency, sir?"

Column in the NY Times today by a UW-Madison prof, William Cronon, begs reading. He opens Wisconsin's political history, the dynamism of our tradition of progressive politics, and how some of the impulses of that actually came from the Republican Party - including broadening worker rights and the social safety net.

He compares Gov Walker to Sen. Joe McCarthy - many differences, but something disturbingly in common in "the style of the two men - their aggressiveness, their self-certainty, their seeming indifference to contrary views."

"The turmoil in Wisconsin is not only about bargaining rights or the pension payments of public employees. It is about transparency and openness. It is about neighborliness, decency and mutual respect."

Many Republicans left the party and joined the Democrats in disgust over McCarthy's harsh attacks and anti-communist rants. We hope the acrimony and divisiveness caused by Walker's and the Fitzgerald brothers' anti-democratic tendencies will spark a new progressive politics in our time, one that re-roots our political culture in the tradition of which Cronon reminds us.

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