Monday, June 6, 2011

Walker is tearing us apart

The political divide in this state grows wider. Seems our governor has taken a wedge, stuck it in the middle of the body politic, then grabbed a sledge hammer and slammed that baby right in two.

I used to chop wood, can you tell?

Scott Walker has become one of the most polarizing political figures in all the country, and is number one among state governors. Here's the data: Walker drives voters into split camps.  I won't repeat the numbers, but I will say this about them - this is tragic.

Friends, we have serious problems in this state, mirrored all around the country. The global economy is in a permanent restructuring - yes, I said permanent - and the old manufacturing, good paying union production jobs economy that created (temporarily as it turns out) a broad middle class is in decline.  It is simply not needed to generate wealth for the wealthy because the US consumer is being replaced by consumer demand in China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere.

And so wages and benefits are in decline, but global capitalists continue to enrich themselves. The loss in wages is manifested in lower tax revenues. Put that together with lower taxes for corporations and the rich, and you end up with budget problems. Politicians like Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers believe that you deal with that by taking more from the poor in social programs, tax credits, unemployment benefits, W-2, BadgerCare, and then giving more tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy with this false, deceptive mantra that somehow this will magically create jobs that will restore the middle class, restore home values, solve the deficit problems, and on and on.

But to keep this deceptive policy on course, they distract us with divisive politics, the kind that pit different groups against each other - private sector workers whose unions have already been rendered irrelevant against public sector unions who are now getting the same treatment from the Walker regime, the needs of inner city poor people against wealthy exurbanites who want lakefront property and places to park their boats, poor kids in public schools against property owners who want tax relief, and on and on.

Or getting us all hot under the collar about concealed carry, as if some great constitutional principle is at stake there rather than in new laws that threaten the broad human and political rights of our citizens.

Now just to reaffirm that character of the far right in our state politics, be sure to read Daniel Bice's 'No Quarter' column today. The rightists who fear voter backlash in upcoming recall elections are attempting to run fake Democrats against their opponents in order to create artificial primaries, force the Dems to spend more money, and give them another month to mount a defense of their woeful record - no doubt also to buy time to raise more money from the Karl Roves and others of their ilk.

This is becoming a very dirty game in this state. It is tragic because we have never needed more to come together. That kind of leadership, the kind that unites rather than divides, is woefully lacking right now, the kind of discourse that rejects the divide-and-conquer game, that rejects this nastiness and stubborn intransigence that is making it harder and harder for us to even talk to each other.

Beyond his politics of the corporate state and his rightist anti-democratic tendencies, his fear of his opponents, his lack of political acumen masked as standing up for the taxpayers of Wisconsin, the worst part of this Walker era is his seeming penchant for tearing us apart and then trying to get his way. He did this as Milwaukee County Executive and we are living with the results. There is a reason, state of Wisconsin, that Milwaukee voters did not vote for him last year. We knew.

Okay, this sounds harsh, but this divisiveness is really getting out of hand. So I will end with this reflection from yesterday's paper, another Bice piece. Walker had a beautiful work of art removed from the governor's mansion - three children of different races dancing joyously down the street making bubbles. It was a commissioned work from artist David Lenz.

Joy. Togetherness. Community and neighborhood. Walker can't stand to look at it.

Know what we need to do in response? Create joy in our togetherness, renew and revitalize our communities and neighborhoods, and build a solidarity among us that is broad and deep.  Walker and the Fitzgeralds usually look so joyless. Doesn't mean we have to be.

[I won't post against until Thursday.]

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