Wisconsin, with its proud progressive tradition, its long history of student activists, farmer/labor axis, its revulsion at organized money and the power it can wield, and its basic Midwest decency, gave Bernie Sanders his biggest win in a long time last night, and keeps his momentum alive long enough to continue to pull Clinton to the left. This is good: she can win from the left. Triangulating isn’t the best strategy this year. Clinton needs to use that sort of historic Wisconsin coalition moving forward, bringing it into the fold of her equally-important base. If she can do that, she can have a thumping victory regardless of her opponent.
Meanwhile. Wisconsin, with its tradition of right-wing ideological purity and resentment against the liberal coalition, gave Ted Cruz the victory he needed to almost certainly force a contested coalition. This wasn’t a rebuke to Trump being “rude”: in a state where Governor Walker becomes more popular by giving away the environment, destroying labor, and having grandmothers arrested because their singing gives him the vapors, the sneering Cruz is a perfect fit. He speaks the language of overlapping resentments that drive the party, and have found perfect expression in Wisconsin. What a weird state.
I’ve been driving up to Wisconsin for years, and have always gotten a kick out of this sign, but as far as I can remember it is only recently that they put the “open for business” at the bottom. That’s such a Walkerian way to describe one of our most beautiful and lake-filled areas. Business is obviously important, but Walker’s definition of “open” is pretty much the same as Big Bill Thompson’s in Chicago: come on in, boys. The place is yours. Don’t even bother wiping your feet or not polluting the lakes. Clear cut what you want, just kick something back upstairs. (That’s not to insinuate that Walker is getting money out of all this. He just does it because he likes it. Give me Big Bill any day).
If you want to know everything base and venal about Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans, remember that the literally wanted to edit the Wisconsin Idea to remove anything about the human spirit, and put in language about the state’s workforce needs.
The mission of the system is to develop human resources to meet the state’s workforce needs, to discover and disseminate knowledge,
to extendknowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses and to serve and stimulate society by developing develop in students heightened intellectual, cultural, and humane sensitivities, scientific, professional and technological expertise, and a sense of purpose. Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.
(lines are Walkers’ proposed edits)
This is the part of Wisconsin for whom Ted Cruz has the most appeal. This wasn’t a return of Midwest decency or a revolt against Trump’s ill-manners. It was a revolt against the idea that the poor and working class have any purpose other than to make the rich even richer. That’s Walker’s Wisconsin. The only nice thing about this is that it is going to revive Walker’s image as a national player, even though it only confirms, once again, that he is only capable of winning elections in the conservative Milwaukee County suburbs. So seeing him get smacked down again now that his usefulness is up will be gratifying.