Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Fighting" Bob La Follete's legacy in danger

Current Gov. Scott Walker's vision destroying "Fighting" Bob's ideals

Last week, June 14, was “Fighting” Bob La Follette’s birthday, arguably Wisconsin’s most celebrated governor. Living at a time when robber barons and corporate bosses ruled the political landscape, La Follette broke the mold and governed on behalf of real people. But if he had been alive to witness the events of his birth-week he’d likely have had some choice words for the direction his state decided to take through the votes on the current biennial budget and other issues affecting the Dairy Land.

The vision that “Fighting” Bob had for Wisconsin was a state by the people, for the people. He’d likely disapprove of the move to rid state workers of their bargaining rights -- he was an ardent supporter of worker protections and liberties. He’d surely be opposed to cuts in education, FamilyCare and other social service programs designed to help Wisconsinites facing difficult times. And there’s no doubt he’d be appalled at the actions of Republicans for their sneaky tactics to prolong the recall process (the very process he helped bring to Wisconsin).

The state that La Follette envisioned Wisconsin to become was meant to be the envy of the nation -- and for a time, it was. We’ve topped the country in sciences for countless years, we recently were named the best state in the nation in terms of graduation rates, and our cities are constantly named the best to live in across the country.

But the legacy of our state’s greatest governor is in grave danger of being overshadowed and destroyed by a man who’s making a compelling case to become our state’s worst.

Scott Walker’s vision for Wisconsin is the antithesis of Robert La Follette’s. Rather than putting trust in the people themselves, Walker is putting our state in the hands of the corporate elite. Rather than investing in our children’s educational progress, Walker is investing this state’s tax dollars into the pocketbooks of his personal campaign donors and giving cushy jobs to his administration’s cronies. And rather than placing care towards the elderly, disabled, or downtrodden in Wisconsin, Walker is instead raising taxes on them and cutting their services drastically -- all while giving hundreds of millions of dollars in tax BREAKS to the state’s wealthiest corporations.

La Follette fought against corporate influence at a time when it was the norm in American politics. It’s clear to even the most novice of political observers that our current governor, Scott Walker, is quite alright with these practices, even encouraging such influence over the will of the people.

The citizens of this state aren’t supportive of this governor’s vision. When you look at the wage gap between the wealthy and the poor, when you examine the value of education within Wisconsin across several generations, and when you consider the consequences of defunding social programs designed to bring help to those in need during a time of economic duress, it’s clear that the Wisconsin we know and love cannot survive under the governorship of Scott Walker.

This state is in desperate need of another “Fighting” Bob La Follette. The question is, is there anyone who is prepared to take on the role? Wisconsin might not be able to preserve its integrity without someone stepping up to the task soon. Gov. Walker and his legislative allies must be stopped if we’re to keep Wisconsin moving “forward.”

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