Walker’s Enemies List

Back in 1971, confronted by mounting domestic opposition, the Nixon White House issued a call for enemies from the staff.  Then White House Counsel John Dean (who, in recent years has taken his own party to task in a series of scathing books and articles which lay the decay of American democracy squarely at the feet of the Republican Party) issued the following memo to senior White House staff:

The sole purpose of this memo was to have the senior White House staff provide the names of people in the press and in positions of influence who were likely to oppose a second Nixon term.  In Dean’s words

…how can we use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies?

The original list of 20 names was later expanded to include dozens of Americans in politics, entertainment, journalism, business and labor.  The entire Congressional Black Caucus made the list.

Now in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has his ultimate enemies list, all searchable and indexed.  It’s called Verify the Recall.  And he has a legion of Mechanical Turks to parse the data and identify useful enemies to target.  So far they’ve restricted their witch hunt to judges and journalists who, presumably in Walker’s Brave New State are not entitled to their own opinions.

Except, of course, that these are not enemies.  Walker didn’t create this list.  These are voters expressing their opinion.  If Wisconsin’s laws protected recall signers the same way they protect voters, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  To me, signing a recall petition is no different from voting, whether or not it’s private.  It’s akin to a caucus vote.  A public expression of political will.  But Walker’s supporters, desperate to protect “their man in Madison” will use any underhanded stratagem to ensure Walker remains in power, even if it means corrupting the very heart of democracy.

Walker’s minions are using their enemies list just like Nixon used his list, to hound and persecute (and sometimes prosecute) their “enemies.”  Journalists and judges are the first target.  Who will be next?  Teachers?  Union leaders?  State employees?  Police?  Firefighters?  Bloggers?  We’ll just have to wait and see.


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