While our attention was diverted to national elections, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced his legislative agenda for next year.
The fact that he did so at the Ronald Reagan Library in California says something about the good governor’s hubris, though Reagan, himself, must be spinning in his casket at the idea someone like Walker would be speaking at his shrine.
Walker said he would like to end same-day voter registration in Wisconsin, a practice which makes us one of the more civilized states and has contributed to Wisconsin voters casting their ballots at a rate far above those of most Americans.
It is true that we tend to cast those ballots for people like President Obama and Tammy Baldwin – and it is also true that we tend to cast those ballots for lightweights like Walker and the Republican Legislature. So, I’m not quite sure why the governor thinks it is a bad thing for people to vote.
But the idea does go over well with the right wing zealots who feel that voting should be restricted to those who deserve the privilege.
Then the governor, who cut funding for public schools by $900 million his last time at bat, said he’d like to increase state payments for school vouchers that encourage parents to take their kids out of the public schools. This, of course, is a betrayal of the entire Wisconsin ethic, but it plays well with folk who fear that educating kids just leads them to want to vote.
But here’s what really got to me: Walker said he wants to redirect state funding of the university system so that it rewards schools that direct students into fields that employers want to see emphasized.
That sounds sensible until you realize what a completely terrible idea it is. If I understand the governor correctly, he wants to take one of the world’s great universities and turn it into a trade school producing human robots to service the corporate masters of the state.
God knows, the idea isn’t totally revolutionary; the university already panders to corporate sponsors. But, at some level, its leaders maintain a residual fondness for French and history and music.
At some level there’s a basic trust, or, at least, a basic hope that a liberal arts education may help develop the men and women who will build tomorrow’s economy, not just exploit today’s workers.
The more I think about the governor’s idea, the happier I am that he launched it in California. I hope it stays there.