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Protesters turn out at Walker re-election launch

When Gov. Scott Walker launched his re-election bid on Nov. 5 at Weldall Manufacturing in Waukesha, a few hundred protesters gathered outside the event to let Walker know they were not on board with his plan. PHOTO BY MATTHEW DeFOUR/STATE JOURNAL

There is no way that Wisconsin's 2018 could be worse than 2017. A year that saw the most politically corrupt governor in the state's history set up a scheme to transfer as much as $3 billion in state resources to a Taiwanese corporation in order to improve his re-election prospects will not be outdone.

But "no worse than last year" is woefully insufficient.

Wisconsin needs a better year. This state needs to turn the corner in 2018 and start building the brighter future than has been delayed by eight years of cruelty, incompetence and corruption.

The way to turn that corner is by removing Scott Walker as governor and booting from office as many of his toadies as possible. It won't be easy: Walker remains the poster boy for the decades-long project of billionaires Charles and David Koch to transform American politics by transforming the states. The Kochs and their allies invested millions to get Walker elected and ponied up millions more to keep him there.

For the Kochs, it was a smart investment. Walker's shock-and-awe governing style — with its brutal attacks on public employees, public education, public services and open government — set the tone for the larger national project of the billionaire class. No one did more than Walker to set the stage for Donald Trump and the crude politics of Trumpism that has transformed the Republican Party into something crueler than it has ever been.

Trump beat Walker in the race for the Republican presidential nomination — after exposing the budgetary lies that underpinned the Wisconsinite's claims of success — but the president learned a lot from his rival. Trump borrowed directly from Walker's playbook with his determination to divide Americans against one another, to stir resentment into a toxic political brew, to reject the rule of law in order to advance his agenda, to disregard fiscal honesty and responsibility, and to abandon collaboration and cooperation in favor of win-at-any-cost governing.

No wonder Trump now praises Walker — whose policies the president once described as "a disaster" — and raises money for the governor's re-election campaign. No wonder Walker now provides cover for Trump's most outrageous words and deeds. The two men are working together closely on projects like the Foxconn debacle.

Trump and Walker worked together to facilitate the agreement with the Taiwanese corporation because it served the political ends of both men. Trump is obsessed with the idea that he can get multinational corporations that for decades have sited manufacturing facilities in low-wage countries to site a few of them in the U.S. Walker is obsessed with his failure to keep the chief promise of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign — to create the conditions that would see Wisconsin add 250,000 private-sector jobs in four years.

So both men jumped at the chance to cut a deal with Foxconn, a company that wanted to curry Trump's favor in case the president launched a trade war with China. Foxconn's scheme was a sly one: to locate a major manufacturing facility in the United States so that if things got dicey they would be able to stay on the good side of a notoriously vindictive (yet easily snookered) president. That's how Foxconn plays: The corporation is constantly gaming the system to its own advantage. It has a terrible reputation when it comes to treatment of workers, respect for the environment, and keeping promises to state and local governments.

While other governors were interested in landing a Foxconn facility for their states, none made promises as elaborate as did Walker.

Walker wasn't a better negotiator; he was a sucker who gave away the store.

Unfortunately, he's not even making elaborate promises on behalf of all Wisconsinites. To the extent that Foxconn does finally invest in Wisconsin, that investment will be largely in the southeast corner of the state, near the Illinois border (and the Illinoisans who will compete for whatever jobs are created).

Wisconsinites have every right to ask what could have been done if $3 billion had been committed to the advancement of the whole state. And they have every right to presume that far more jobs would be created by investing in Wisconsin-based small businesses and farms, in education, and in services and infrastructure.

The reality is that Walker failed Wisconsin's future. And he did so in order to create fodder for the television ads that the Koch brothers and their allies will pour into the state in order to save Walker.

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That makes Walker vulnerable.

Good.

Walker has done tremendous damage to Wisconsin since 2011 — damage that will only be made worse if he is re-elected.

So we will work to ensure that he does not get another term.

Our resolution for 2018 is to support every effort by responsible Republicans, Democrats of all stripes, and independents to get Wisconsin back from the Koch brothers and the political hacks, to refocus state government on serving the interests of every community and every region, to put an end to the politics of division and scheming, and to consign Scott Walker to the dustbin of history.

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