Shapeshifter Walker | WisCommunity

Shapeshifter Walker

The Republican Presidential Debate season has started. The question in my mind is which of the two Scott Walkers will show up for the debates.

The mythology of many societies includes the concept of a shapeshifter – a person or animal who can change form at will. Walker has proved himself to be adept at shifting shape, most spectacularly right after taking the oath of office. Candidate Walker is often a completely different animal from office-holder Walker.

While running for Milwaukee County Executive Walker made small promises for reform, including cleaning up the fiscal mess left by his predecessor Tom Ament. Walker called for reducing the debt burden caused by the county pension plan. He seemed reasonable and soft-spoken.

. Small concerns for the County budget quickly blossomed into a series of emergencies requiring drastic cuts to the budgets of funding for alcoholism and drug programs, mental health, parks and courts budgets, the arts, and maintenance of existing infrastructure. The county executive seemed completely willing to take advantage of a crisis, even if that crisis needed to be exaggerated.

After leaving the debacle of his stint in Milwaukee, Walker once again reverted to a reasonable fellow while running for Governor. Candidate Walker was clearly a conservative, but primarily campaigned on economic issues, calling for job growth, lowering of taxes, and a commitment to have state employees pay a larger share of their benefits costs. Candidate Walker could not be considered a friend of labor, but emphasized that collective bargaining for state employees was a fact of life.

After winning office, the state was suddenly “broke” and again drastic measures were required. Governor Walker, in cahoots with the state Legislature, “dropped the bomb” of Act 10, removing most collective bargaining rights from state employees, while lowering their salaries by increasing their contributions to their health care. This law caused a period of protest and argument in the state that proved divisive and painful to all.

While campaigning for his second term candidate Walker assured our citizens that although he believed abortion was wrong, the state had no ability to overturn Federal law and that it would remain an issue between a woman and her doctor. He also stated that right-to-work was not an issue on the Republican radar, and that jobs were still the primary interest of his party.

After he and the Republican legislature were re-elected a full-court press began to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state and to pass a 20-week abortion ban that is arguably the most restrictive bill in the country. The economic recovery of the state progressed at a sluggish rate while the Governor and legislature turned their attention to social issues and attacking open records laws and the Government Accountability Board.

After this long history of shape-shifting presidential candidate Walker will attempt to convince us all that he is the candidate to unite the country, and that he is the sort of centrist candidate who will look out for us all. This is the same leader who is infamous for using the phrase “divide and conquer” when describing his attempt to break unions in the state. Pollster Nate Silver has rated the governor as the third-most conservative governor in the country.

Governor Walker is hoping voters will listen to Candidate Walker, and ignore the behavior of officeholder Walker. So far this has worked for him but the phrase “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” comes to mind. Remember that saying when you watch the debates.


August 9, 2015 - 9:42am