Thursday, July 4, 2013

On Independence Day, Scott Walker sticks to "divide and conquer"

Partisan cheap shot taken on governor's Twitter account shows his true colors

I typically like to stay away from politics on important holidays. It’s important to respect these days as unifying, as anniversaries or recognitions we can all honor together, and that’s why I waited a until tonight before making this post.

Earlier, Gov. Scott Walker had a few choice words to say on Twitter about Independence Day. The words he chose to disseminate were harsh and uncalled for, especially on the anniversary of our nation’s birth.

To be sure, Walker didn’t spend the whole day as a Twitter “troll.” He had many great things to say about the Fourth of July, too, like how he had enjoyed the many parades he attended, and this one about the reasons our founders fought for independence more than two centuries ago, and why we preserve it to this day:

But it wasn’t that tweet that got me riled up. Conservatives and liberals can both agree on the sentiments expressed above, and they don’t stir up much to be concerned about. 
Rather, it’s the nature of a tweet he made later on in the day that upset me:

On a day when we’re supposed to celebrate our unity, our enduring commitment towards the principles of American idealism, Gov. Scott Walker instead chose the low road.

Walker used the opportunity of Independence Day to divide. Rather than honor the idea that, despite our citizens’ many differences, we all stand committed together as one, he deliberately used the occasion of our independence as a means to take a partisan shot at his political opponents.

Let's be clear here: the problem with this governor isn’t just the fact that he’s misrepresenting the founders’ intents. Taking a swipe at tax day is not an unfamiliar move for conservatives, and they frequently point to the founders as why they deplore taxation.

The founders, however, didn’t oppose taxation outright; instead, they opposed taxation without representation. Indeed, the Constitution gives Congress the right to tax the citizenry, a power that, were conservatives accurate about the founders’ intents, would contradict the supposed reason for revolution.

As for the dependence line, Walker’s wrong there, too: ask anyone who receives help from the state, and you’ll find that people don’t like to be dependent on government, and they certainly don’t celebrate it.

What we do celebrate, however, is the morality of giving aid to those in desperate need of it, of not kicking our citizens to the curb when they’re hit by hard times. Austerity isn’t a handout, as conservatives like to portray it; rather, it’s a means to grant oneself tools for survival when things go awry.

All that aside, however, my true criticism of Gov. Walker isn’t any of his contextual errors: it’s the fact that he chose to use the celebration of our nation’s independence as a way to get in a political cheap shot.

This goes back to what we already know about Walker -- namely his method of “divide and conquer.” His statement is meant to incite ill-will among those who agree with him against those who support aid to the downtrodden.

That sort of division on its own is demeaning to the office he holds, no matter what date the calendar may be showing. Taking that tone on a day of national unity goes a step further, demonstrating for all to see what lengths he is willing to go to for his own personal and political gain.

Wisconsin sorely needs a leader who won’t use these tactics anymore. We don’t need someone in office who will, on what should be a day to forget about politics, utilize that sentiment in a negative way.

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