May  21, 2012

Milwaukee Courier

The Right to Work

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

What makes a successful leader?  I believe that a successful leader must be a successful communicator.  I believe a successful leader must be consistent and substantial.  Though Governor Walker has proved to be a skilled communicator, his words have rarely reflected the truth.  He has been anything but consistent or substantial.  Since his election, Walker has relied on gimmicks and tricks to gain support.

First, he launched an unprovoked attack on organized labor.  As a candidate, Walker had never admitted that he felt hostility towards worker’s rights. When Walker and his allies attacked collective bargaining rights, the people of Wisconsin were shocked.  Wealthy conservatives from across the nation showered Walker with support.  Walker could divide our state with shock tactics and political stunts, but at least he could rely on his new friends from out-of-state to support him.

Before Governor Walker, worker’s rights seemed safe and uncontroversial.  Before Walker, you might disagree with a Governor’s policies, but you could always have a friendly political discussion with a friend or co-worker.  Now, Governor Walker has pursued the most controversial policies, so that Wisconsinites on either side can hardly speak to one another.

In recent weeks, I have been especially shocked by Walker’s actions.  Walker once championed the slogan, “Don’t Spend More Than You Have.”  Now, Walker relies on credit card spending to cover up gaping holes in his budget.  Walker has not supported substance, but gimmickry.  Walker has not supported consistency, but empty rhetoric.

Walker again relied on gimmicks when his administration released public census data several months early, before the Bureau of Labor Statistics could verify the information.

State governments virtually never released jobs numbers early.  Even assuming that the numbers are reliable (how can we be sure?), the release shows the ease with which Governor Walker has been willing to bend the rules in order to gain a political advantage.  Common courtesy and respect have been ignored.

Walker’s entire time in office has been marred by opportunism.  Walker gained national stature by being an unpredictable and divisive politician. How can we be sure where and when Walker will stop?  Working families have so much to lose.

Video footage now shows that Governor Walker had always planned to “divide and conquer” unions, although he never bothered mention his plan to voters.  If he had always planned to attack unions, why had Walker never mentioned it?

Now, Walker claims he has no desire to make Wisconsin a right-to-work-for-less state.  But how can we be sure?  Earlier this year, Indiana became the first Midwestern state to adopt right-to-work-for-less laws.  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels once claimed that he would never pass right-to-work-for-less.  To satisfy the fringe of the conservative base, Daniels went ahead and passed the union-killing law.

The right-to-work-for-less isn’t for Wisconsin.  The law makes it nearly impossible to organize or maintain unions, lowering wages for workers and discouraging employers from offering benefits.  The same wealthy friends Walker made attacking collective bargaining would cheer for the right-to-work-for-less in Wisconsin.

Walker claims that he is not interested in passing “right to work for less”.  But we already knows that he wants to “divide and conquer” unions.  We know he loves attention and never compromises.  We know he cares more about out-of-state celebrity than he does about be honest with the voters of Wisconsin.

When choosing a leader, can we afford to trust a man who values controversy and flash over consistency and substance?  As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”