Watching Assembly Speaker Robin Vos give the Republican response to Gov. Tony Evers' State of the State address showed he didn't have a clue what Evers had said a few minutes before.
Perhaps it was because the governor didn't mention any names when he suggested that the state of Wisconsin may not be as good as some contend.
In fact, the state is facing a lot of problems.
Evers showed once again that his style shuns nastiness and name-calling, preferring instead to make points that respect the opinions of others while using a subtle approach to tell them they're wrong.
Frankly, it's one of the reasons he beat Scott Walker and made a few legislative Republicans sweat a bit in their re-election campaigns despite the comfort of their gerrymandered districts. Because, as Evers said, there's more to the health of a state than unemployment numbers.
As he opened his speech, Evers suggested that Wisconsin has a lot of work to do and "we're ready for bipartisan solutions."
"(T)here is more to an economy than counting job creation. And the state our state is more than just our unemployment rate. The opportunity we have to offer is not just the number of jobs we create; it's counted, too, by the number of workers who will work 40 hours each week and still won't make enough to keep their family out of poverty.
"The strength of our success is not found solely in fiscal surplus; it's defined, too, by the number of our kids who will go to school hungry tomorrow. The metric for posterity is not just what we keep in the coffers for a rainy day; it's measured, too, by the quality of the natural resources we're leaving behind for our kids and their kids after them," he said.
Indeed, the only issues that really mattered to the triumvirate of Vos, Walker and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was their one-way view of what makes a great state — everything geared to the success of the corporate interests embodied by the greed regularly displayed by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. The welfare of workers didn't count.
If business was doing well, then all's OK. Preserving the environment didn't count, neither did protecting the state's drinking water nor its air. The quality and reputation of our universities and public schools took a back seat to the wish lists of the corporations and financial interests.
But the people started to see what was happening and the kowtowing to big business — million-dollar, even billion-dollar, payouts to hugely successful corporations started to grate. This wasn't Wisconsin anymore.
In his response to Evers, Vos showed he either didn't know or didn't want to know what's really happening in the state. He vowed to defend what the Republicans gave Wisconsin in unemployment numbers and job growth. He declared that socialists would never gain a foothold in Wisconsin — not that they hadn't done that multiple times before in our state's history to great economic AND humanitarian success.
Something tells me Evers' tenure will be a success, but only if Vos really hears the governor's message.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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