Walker, as a "straight-shooter-in-chief," doesn't live up to the labelIn describing Scott Walker's governing style, state Sen. Glenn Grothman created a new word:
"Scott Walker is a rare politician who doesn't try to make everybody happy with other people's money," says Grothman, a Republican state senator from West Bend. "He's the best governor of my lifetime. He's the least 'politician-y.' He's able to say 'no' to people."That assessment may blindside some people -- after all, Walker has polarized Wisconsin like no other political executive has in generations. But Grothman's description of the governor is meant to be a compliment.
What Grothman means is that Walker doesn't act politically -- he's not interested in striking deals or working with the other side in any way whatsoever. In other words, Walker's not "politician-y" because he refuses to believe that his job requires him to be a politician, at least when it comes to working with Democrats or moderate Republicans. Grothman views Walker as a "straight-shooter," or to borrow a soda marketing phrase, the "un-politician."
A lot of people welcome this type of leader -- they govern from their own consciences (supposedly), and don't try to cater to the ideas of their opposition. There's no questioning where they stand on issues because they make it clear in how they carry out their business while in office.
But the flip-side of the "un-politician" -- at least the kind that Walker is -- is their inability to reach across the aisle to get work done. They have an unapologetic, almost dictatorial demeanor that leaves those who voted against them (48 percent of the state, in Walker's case) out in the cold.
Besides governing in an unforgiving fashion, Grothman's admiration of the "un-politician" Walker is off-base for a second reason: Walker is no "straight-shooter." He puts on the facade of being up front with the people, but in reality his words are at best distortions of his "accomplishments," and at worst outright lies about how "it's working."
For example, Walker constantly touts that he balanced the budget while not raising taxes. Both portions of that statement, however, are misleading. Walker balanced the budget, but under terms he previously criticized his predecessor of following. He also cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income workers, a move that increases the taxes of those individuals.
The most visible example of Gov. Walker's "faux straight-shooter" attitude was the ending of bargaining rights for state workers. During the 2010 campaign, Walker briefly mentioned that he would consider, as governor, ending these rights -- but only for health care, never an all-out removal of rights that came about almost 11 months ago.
That's not being straight-forward with the people -- that's being conniving.
Being the "un-politician" certainly has its benefits. For Walker, at a time when the state wants wants a non-political leader (perhaps more than ever), it definitely helps. But Wisconsinites don't want an abrasive governor, either. They want a DIFFERENT KIND of "un-politician," one who is atypical, not because they are hyper-partisan like Walker, but because they will transcend partisan lines to get work done.
The type of "un-politician" that Grothman admires and Walker tries to emulate is wrong for Wisconsin -- and in the end, destructive towards its discourses.