Wineke: Why are the Republicans doing this?
It appears as if the Walker era in Wisconsin politics will end the way it began, with Republicans in power vandalizing the state’s institutions and its spiritual traditions.
The Assembly and the State Senate introduced bills Friday and passed them in early morning voting Wednesday that would strip the incoming governor and attorney general of much of their power, transferring it, instead, to the Legislature.
My only question is, why?
If Gov. Scott Walker signs these bills – and he has indicated that he will – his crowning achievement after four years in office will be to permanently diminish the powers of the governor.
What kind of legacy is that?
And what do the Republicans in the Legislature get out of all this?
If they’re successful in this power grab they will remove accountability from the governor’s office and take ownership of the $4 billion Foxconn boondoggle, the state’s failing economic development efforts and our crumbling streets and highways.
To be sure, they deserve to be held accountable, but if I were a Republican I’d much prefer to just hand all these disasters over to Gov.-elect Tony Evers.
The irony of all this is that there is probably no politician in Wisconsin better able to prevail in the atmosphere the Republicans are creating than Evers.
Evers has been superintendent of Public Instruction in Wisconsin since 2009 and has spent virtually all of that time fending off Republican attempts to emasculate his office. He’s not terribly charismatic and he’s not overtly tough, but he is governor-elect and Walker is on his way out the door.
Evers has also spent that time dealing with teachers and school boards and federal regulators and irate parents. Being an education administrator is no job for the faint of heart.
So I’m not overly worried that Evers will wilt before the likes of Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos.
I’m not even sure that limiting the executive powers of the governor is a bad idea. But it is an idea that deserves more careful consideration than legislation drafted in secret on Friday and passed in the dark on Wednesday.
Given Wisconsin politics, Evers will eventually be replaced by a Republican governor and that governor will take on the office diminished by Walker and his current crew.
So, again I ask, why? What do these guys get out of all this?
I don’t know who “wins.” I do know who loses.
We lose. Wisconsin once had a national reputation as a clean government state, a laboratory of democracy. We had good roads. We had good schools. Two of the most effective governors in Wisconsin history were Pat Lucey and Tommy Thompson. Lucey was a Democrat. Thompson is a Republican.
I will never, ever, understand why Thompson remains silent while the state he loves is being trashed.
So, Wisconsin will just keep blundering into the night. As President Donald Trump might say, it’s sad.
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