No, Walker’s legacy will not be what he accomplished, which is negligible, but how badly he has divided us. Sadly, there is no longer a bipartisan or independent quality to Wisconsin; Walker can claim that as his most enduring handiwork.
Walker’s ideological agenda has ignored our history and our traditions, the kind reflected in the names of leaders through the decades: Lucey, Nelson, Proxmire, Dreyfus, Earl, Thompson, Feingold, Doyle and Kohl.
Some were liberal, some conservative.
I knew them all and wrote extensively about several. What they all had in common, what drove each, was trying to do a good job for all of the people of Wisconsin. They disagreed on how, but they worked across party lines, governing as if they actually cared about and represented all of us.
In contrast, Scott Walker is obsessed, always, with doing a good job for Scott Walker. He brags, after all, about being “unintimidated” by alternative points of view, so much so that he used that word to title his ghost-written autobiography.
Those of a certain age will recall 1988, when Lloyd Bentsen, the late Texas senator, scolded Dan Quayle, an Indiana senator, in the vice presidential debate. Quayle had likened his experience to President Kennedy’s. “Senator,” Bentsen slowly lectured, “I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Well, I covered the late Ronald Reagan, the object of Walker’s adoration. I wrote about Reagan’s state visits and witnessed his 1984 acceptance speech at the GOP convention in Dallas.
Well, governor, you are no Ronald Reagan.
As president, Reagan was charismatic and collaborative. Surely not even a Walker acolyte would try to apply those words to Walker.