In early November, 2010, the citizens of the state of Wisconsin elected the chief executive of Milwaukee County to the governorship of the state of Wisconsin on the basis of his reputation for fiscal discipline and firm resolve. The state of Wisconsin, like most governments of the United States, including its federal one, had seen progressive growth in its entitlement obligations to the point of strangulation of every objective utilization of state resources for the public good for any other purpose. The previous governor, facing similar budgetary obligations and fiscal pressures, unconstitutionally transferred funds from other critical areas of obligation, the state physician’s patient compensation fund and the transportation fund, and raised over two billion dollars in taxes in one of the most taxed states in the union, in order to avoid confronting the visible entitlement bomb in the budget. The previous elected legislative bodies conspiratorially kicked the building budget crisis to future governments to address. The election of November, additionally converting both the Wisconsin state legislative Assembly and Senate to Republican despite a traditionally liberal electorate, showed the publics’ determination to have the government fundamentally transformed back to a fiscally conscious and publicly responsive entity. It was no accident of fate that they put Scott Walker in the governor’s chair to direct the process.
Scott Walker has been the anti-politician politician for most of his public life. He has on multiple occasions now been the politician elected to clean up other people’s messes. In one of the more liberal counties in the United States, Milwaukee County he managed as a conservative to be elected and overwhelmingly re-elected based on his pecular adult habit of performing in office exactly as he said he would. In a county wounded by a spectacular pension heist propagated upon the tax payers by the county’s elected officials, securing pension obligations that made hundreds of pension millionaires, Walker, obligated by law to support the promises, assured that no further tax increases would go to prop up the poison pension pill locked in by the previous executive. He cleaned up the mess to the tune of eight consecutive balanced county budgets without increases in the tax levy, cut his own salary while demanding sacrifices by other public employees, reduced and privatized the county workforce where feasible, and achieved it all with a mercilessly confrontational democrat common council that sought every opportunity to undermine his efforts. The anti-politician politician calmly held his ground, maintained his principles, and did not break his pact with the voting public.
Now the stage is the larger state governmental process but the in-dwelling hypocrites are the same and the task very similar for Walker. The sense of entitlement by state employees to the public treasure is if anything magnified and their willingness to scuttle any attempt to change the bias equations that have served them so well for so long a matter of holy war. The democratic process to produce a budget has ground to a halt as democrat senators have fled their responsibilities in governance and their residence in the state in order to prevent a quorum that would allow budget debate and passage. The public unions have brought thousands of angry demonstrators to the capital day after day to obstruct and intimidate the legislators and governor. They have called Walker a “hitler”, a “stalin”, compared him to apes, raised death threats and other violent invectives, screamed and chanted, and accused him of governing differently than he campaigned.
Throughout it all, Walker has been serene and resolute. He has asked for debate within the rules of the legislature. He has asked for democratic process. Above all he has asked for seriousness in both facts and solutions. He has broken no campaign promises because he is not about promises but rather principles of democracy’s actions. The government represents all the people. The government does not exist to profit its own. The government exists to create equality of opportunity, not to guarantee it. The government is graded by and responsible to, its electorate. The government is not about special interests, but rather maintanence of standards. The government exists to assure the protection of individual rights not collective security. The principles ride herd on him , and he does not concern himself with immediate pulse of the day in making his decisions.
He is exactly what people thought they were voting for when they realized no one else was going to willing to potentially fall on the career sword in order to find long term fiscal sanity. Scott Walker is one of those special people. He is the Man in the Arena.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt “Citizenship in a Republic” June 1910