Friday, October 24, 2014

"Angry Madison" remarks confirm Walker is ignoring the concerns of many residents

"Divide and conquer" politics still the go-to strategy for embattled governor

Gov. Scott Walker recently talked about the role that the city of Madison will play in the upcoming gubernatorial election:
There are a lot of people who love what we've done across the state. There are many people in Madison who are angry and they're going to vote no matter what. We have got to make sure that people who love what we do understand they have to come out just as strong. If they do, we'll win this election.
Emphasis added.

Describing Madison voters as “angry,” Walker refuses to confront the fact that as governor he’s meant to serve the entire state, not just the “WOW” counties. Rather than do that, however, Walker goes to his trusted strategy of “divide and conquer,” an offensive maneuver to say the least.

By making the conversation into “us-versus-them,” Walker hopes to villainize the people of Madison so that the rest of the state targets Dane County instead of him.

Madison residents are part of this state, too, and they’re entitled to support the policies and candidates they prefer. Calling Madisonians “angry” is a sad attempt to delegitimize those preferences, to make it seem as though blind rage against him, and not Walker’s record, motivates voters.

More importantly, Madison isn’t the only place upset with the governor’s performance over the past four years. It’s just not mathematically possible, and even if you toss Milwaukee in with us, there are still other parts of the state upset with Walker.

The latest Marquette Law School Poll survey sample (PDF), for example, was only 25 percent Dane County and Milwaukee County respondents. Even if you believe that these two jurisdictions are 100 percent anti-Walker (they’re not), that leaves a significant portion of the state still opposed to him and his policies.

The disappointing aspect of Walker’s comments stem from the fact that the “angry” people he’s trying to stigmatize are citizens of the state he’s in charge of. Their concerns, and those of every citizen in Wisconsin, should be his as well.


While we’re on the subjects of heroes and villains, I want to address a comment I made four years ago, in an open letter to then Governor-elect Scott Walker. I was writing on the subject of the high speed rail project, which then-Gov. Jim Doyle decided to leave in the hands of the governor-elect.

In my closing remarks, I wrote:
I don't view you as a villain, Mr. Walker -- I believe that you truly care about Wisconsin, and though we may disagree on some issues, I know your heart is in the right place.
At the time, I had felt that, even if Walker didn’t share my views, he had the interests of the state in mind. Four years after making those remarks, I’m not so certain I’d write them again today.

I’m not sure Walker’s heart is guiding his actions, or that he cares about Wisconsin anymore. At the very least, his comments on “angry” Madisonians confirms that there are certain parts of the state he’d just as soon ignore.

But I suppose that’s how “divide and conquer” politics works.

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