A short list of grievances makes it clear that history books won't be kind to Gov. WalkerIt was four years ago this week that the recall election, aimed to remove Gov. Scott Walker from his office, failed.
But though the recall itself didn’t succeed, the rationale for its necessity continues to become evident to this day. Scott Walker was, and still is, a destructive governor, and history will likely remember him poorly for his time served in office.
To mark this anniversary, the governor took to social media, expressing his delight in winning the recall:
And as far as electoral victories go, Walker should be proud. He won, after all, and is the only governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt.
Yet electoral victories do not a good leader make. In 1952, at the height of the Red Scare that he was instrumental in fomenting, Joseph McCarthy won re-election to serve in the U.S. Senate for the state of Wisconsin. His crusade, eventually exposed as a fraud, was not justified by any means through his electoral victories.
The same holds true for Gov. Walker, or of any politician for that matter. Electoral victories are not what makes a good leader -- it is how you act in office once elected, how you serve and what you do for the people you represent, that defines your place in the history books.
Scott Walker may have won the recall election four years ago, and he may have won his re-election campaign in 2014. But his record speaks for itself -- he has failed to uphold Wisconsin’s stature as an enviable state to reside in.
On his jobs promise, of creating 250,000 new private sector employment opportunities in four years, he has managed to create just 65 percent of that number in five years’ time, being far outpaced by most of the nation on that metric. We currently sit dead last in jobs creation in the Midwest, and only ten other states in the nation have done worse than Wisconsin since September 2011. And last year, more than 10,000 layoff notices went to workers across the state.
Who does he blame for missing his pledge? He has, in the past, tried to pass the buck to Obamacare, the debt ceiling, protesters, the recall, rain, the 2012 presidential election, unrest in Syria and unskilled workers. More recently he implied that it was the duty of the University of Wisconsin System to produce jobs, and not himself.
Under his leadership, the Department of Natural Resources has failed to send out violation notices to those who have polluted our state’s most vital resource. Wastewater pollutes our drinking reserves in disastrous ways, and countless Wisconsinites are likely poisoned daily as a result.
Walker consistently touts himself as a leader on higher education, flaunting his “tuition freeze” for students seeking college degrees. But a tuition freeze isn’t a long-term solution, and Walker has defunded the UW System in significant ways, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. His latest criticisms on professors frequently relies on deliberately misleading lines of attacks.
He has made a mockery of our electoral system, relying on the conservative State Supreme Court to render an investigation into his illegal campaign coordination with third party groups as legitimate. And he has made it clear to high-paying donors that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get their campaign cash in his coffers -- including considering placing violent instigators into peaceful protests.
He has attacked women’s rights in the state, including reproductive rights, creating more hurdles for women to make decisions about their bodies with their doctors. Walker and the Republican-led legislature also repealed the state’s stronger enforcement of equal pay laws, making it more difficult for women across the state to seek redress for being paid less to work the same jobs that men do.
He has used “Jim Crow” rhetoric in attacking transgender citizens’ rights. He stood against marriage equality in the state and nationally.
And let’s not forget that he attacked Facebook for an anti-conservative bias without tangible proof being presented. He has, in fact, consistently been an embarrassment to Wisconsin, not just nationally but on an international stage as well, as he pretends to still be an influential player in conservative circles.
This list is by no means definitive either. There have been many other instances where Walker has proven himself a terrible leader, as someone who has made Wisconsin a less-hospitable place to be, and who has inflamed angry sentiments across the state like no other political leader before him.
For Walker, celebrating electoral victories is about the only thing he can do at this point. But again, I must reiterate -- electoral victories are not indications of good leadership. What matters most about a leader is how they carry out their duties with the people’s interests in mind.
In that measure, Walker has failed in an epic way. Though he won the recall four years ago this week, in the years since we have seen that we were justified in seeking a remedy to prematurely oust Walker from office after all.
In 2018, Wisconsinites must not make the same mistake again -- they must select new leadership. Our future as an innovative and desirable state to reside in may depend on removing what has been the worst governor in our state’s history from his post.