It’s easy to dismiss politicians these days. It’s easy to write them off as corrupt or shallow, to tweet about how they only care about getting reelected and how they’re all in the pocket of big money. The problem with these stereotypes is they cause many people, especially young voters, to become so disenchanted they simply disengage from the political world. We College Democrats try to reassure students that trustworthy, well-intentioned politicians do exist in our country and they’re worth supporting.
But on Wednesday, during the State of the State address, Governor Scott Walker showed once again that the easy stereotype that portrays every politician as a huckster is at least partially correct.
When Walker addressed the joint session of the Wisconsin State Legislature, he talked about some good stuff — a child tax credit, investment in K-12 schools, corrections reform, rural business development, an extension of the SeniorCare program, Affordable Care Act marketplace stabilization and rural school funding. But in truth, most of these were ideas originally proposed by Democrats and rejected by Walker. Suddenly, our governor has decided to accept these proposals, claim them as his own and use them for his re-election campaign.
Here’s the thing. Walker’s “change of heart” would be okay if that’s what it actually was. But it’s obvious that this is nothing more than a deceitful ploy by a career politician to distract voters from the reality of his tenure. Walker is not a pragmatic, insightful governor. He’s a regressive, machine-funded politician trying to bribe voters in an election year with policies almost adopted years ago by any well-intentioned governor. Here are just a few examples.
In 2017, Democrats introduced a nonrefundable child care tax credit in the state legislature. Walker and his party have not allowed a single hearing for the bill. Now, it’s an election year and Walker wants to give voters $100 per child.
Back in 2014, Walker supported cutting $250 million out of the UW System budget. The cumulative decrease in K-12 funding from the beginning of Walker’s tenure in 2010 through 2016 surpasses $1 billion. In 2011, he supported legislation that took collective bargaining rights away from thousands of teachers. Now, it’s an election year and Walker is investing money in education.
Six years ago, Walker was warned about the chaotic and dangerous conditions at the Lincoln Hills youth prison. But he ignored the abuse of young inmates and the disastrous working conditions of staff. Now, it’s an election year and Walker is proposing corrections reform and closing the Lincoln Hills facility.
For years, Democrats have advocated for the permanent stabilization of SeniorCare. Twice, Walker has tried to scale back and/or replace the program. Both times, bipartisan efforts have stopped him from cutting the senior citizen medication system. Now, it’s an election year and Walker is trying to stabilize SeniorCare.
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Changing your mind is ok. Parties should have absolutely no problem borrowing ideas from each other without fear of being labeled “flip-floppers.” But we should see through Walker’s maneuvering for what it is — a hollow swindle. If Walker is re-elected, he’ll likely revert to his old self and push the same Koch-funded, American Legislative Exchange Council proposed policies he has throughout his tenure.
For eight years, Walker’s Wisconsin benefited from positive national economic trends and easier healthcare access. This year’s State of the State reflects exactly that. But Walker has no hand in Wisconsin’s success. Instead, he encapsulates everything the cynical perceive politics to be. He is two-faced. He is deceitful. He is corrupted by a political system that values power over truth. There are trustworthy, well-intentioned politicians on both sides of the aisle, but Walker is not one of them.
David Pelikan ([email protected]) is a freshman studying political science and economics. He is also Press Secretary for UW College Democrats.