Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s father Steve, was Sheriff of Dodge county in Wisconsin, having moved his family from Chicago. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s father Llew Walker was a reverend, a Baptist Minister in fact, having moved his family from Colorado to Iowa, and finally Wisconsin. And yes, the sheriff’s son is not bothered at all by a potential shoot-out, that would be political and civic please, with unions and Democrats over right to work legislation in Wisconsin. The reverend’s son, however, with his hand on a potential FEC filing, wants to avoid unseemly conflicts and get good things done, like cutting taxes. How embarrassing that such internecine clashes would so quickly emerge.

Well, not really. As Senator Fitzgerald sees it, there is a limited legislative window available to get right to work legislation passed and assure employers that Wisconsin is an appealing jurisdiction to open or expand a business in. As Governor Walker sees it, tax cuts are a better way of achieving the same goal, without the noisy protests that will inevitably ensue, both inside and outside the state legislature. Both points of view make sense, but the suspicion that Walker may be preparing a bid for the GOP nomination casts doubt on the reasons for his approach. While a smooth legislative session that achieves measurable, if discrete, goals might be a way to avoid gridlock, sometimes gridlock is not only unavoidable but necessary. In a conflict as fundamental as right to work legislation vs. union rights, a legislative stalemate, (even if it is a manufactured one given the GOP majorities in Wisconsin), can be the precursor to more fundamental change. And change is always resisted by whatever groups or institutions feel threatened. It might not play well for Governor Walker’s supposed presidential ambitions to show his state in legislative turmoil, or at least engulfed in noisy protests, but it may pay off in the longer run in terms of added jobs, something most people in Wisconsin would support. Will the sheriff’s son have his way? That depends on how effectively the reverend’s son can convince his own party. Both want Wisconsin to work, in the broadest sense of the word. Let’s see if they can work something out.

Comments