After eight years and three elections (one of those a recall) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was defeated Nov. 6 in his bid for a third term by Democrat Tony Evers.
It was a close election. Evers won by about 31,000 votes, a margin of 1.2 percent (results were not final until Wednesday morning) and legally, much as he may have wanted to, Walker could not request a recount because of a law he signed last year.
Due to a recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein after President Trump won Wisconsin by 23,000 votes in the 2016 election, the Wisconsin Legislature passed and Walker signed a law mandating that, in the future, candidates could only request a recount if they were losing by less than 1 percent. Walker lost by 1.2 percent. Ouch — he probably didn’t see that coming back to bite him.
Since Republicans still control the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, having a Democratic governor, it was hoped, might ensure some semblance of checks and balances in the Wisconsin legislative process, right? Theoretically, yes, but within hours Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he would discuss ways to limit Evers’ power as governor with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who of course was open to the idea.
I guess that’s how democracy is supposed to work, or not work, in these times: If you don’t have total partisan control of the process, you try to pass laws or throw up every possible roadblock to restrict any intrusion of the opposing party into the power structure you somehow seem to feel you have a right to own.
A similar situation was, of course, played out by President Trump, who obviously felt the sting of the Democratic wins in Tuesday's election that gave the Democrats control of the House. Feeling threatened by the Republicans losing total control of the government and fearing the newly empowered Democrats could launch potential investigations of his finances, the ethics scandals within the administration, Russian collusion, and even possibly initiate impeachment proceedings, Trump pre-emptively fought back.
Trump threatened a “warlike posture” if the Democrats try to investigate him, indicating he would use the Republican-controlled Senate to investigate as-yet-unnamed alleged acts of misconduct committed by Democrats.“They can play that game, but we can play it better. Because we have a thing called the United States Senate,” Trump said.
So this is what we have come to? In Wisconsin and I would guess other states where the balance of power has shifted, partisan politics and the need to maintain total political control totally upend any idea of bipartisanship and, as they say, “working across the aisle”?
In Washington, the president feels it is a game? You push me, I'll push you? If there were legitimate reasons to investigate misconduct committed by the Democrats, of course investigate, but why wasn’t that done when the misconduct occurred? Why wait until the threat of investigation could be used as a cudgel to try and suppress investigations of his administration?
Listen: All federal, state and local politicians, pay attention. I do not care what party you claim allegiance to. Voters and perhaps more so, those who are so disgusted with politics they feel voting is a waste of time, would really like to see some changes. Montana Sen. Jon Tester noted in a speech after his re-election: "The people I talked to, the biggest issue they bring up is, 'Why can't you guys work together?'" And to his credit Tester concluded, "We can, and we will." Thank you, senator.
That’s what we want. We are sick and tired of the unmitigated partisanship, bullying and voter suppression.
This isn’t supposed to be a power struggle by a bunch of narcissistic, self-serving opportunists. This isn’t a game. People's lives, people's futures are determined by your actions, so get over it. It is not about you. If the Nov. 6 elections and the primaries before showed anything, it was that, perhaps, there is a new awareness that voting does matter. You can lose your job no matter how long you have been in office, no matter how powerful you think you are.
As Fannie Lou Hamer famously stated, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” So are we.
Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wisconsin.
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