Monday, November 17, 2014

Now what?

By Bill Kraus

Scott Walker’s icon status is intact, and he is running for President. His obligatory denials or half denials are mild enough to indicate he knows that icon’s lose luster with age. With Walker out of the way, Robin Vos is running for governor.

These tacit ambitions can influence behavior in major ways.

The newly empowered Republicans exercised the dominance they won in 2010 vigorously. Act 10 was a surprisingly effective surprise which did a lot of things up to and including igniting the above mentioned ambitions for 2016.

The unexpectedly loud and physical backlash to Act 10 had many many side effects on the governor and on the legislative leaders.

It started with a seige. When you start with a siege, a lot of predictable things follow. In Wisconsin the government became increasingly inaccessible and unresponsive. A committee chair told a supplicant that he only responded to mail from his direct constituents. Hearings, when held, were more buttoned down than opened up. The Assembly which was traditionally rambunctious moved in lockstep on the Speaker’s agenda.

The ruling party was not quite invisible and totalitarian, but it wasn’t open and small d democratic either. Nor was it small d diverse.

There was a call for civility, for mutual respect, for compromise  all of which would make the government more likable and effective.

Civility is easy. The route to mutual respect and compromise is harder. In one party dominated Wisconsin compromise is unnecessary. In Washington it’s essential. Both sides are able to stop or not start anything and everything there. The dominant Republicans here only have to agree among themselves.

This is not as simple as it sounds. Legislative leaders will tell you that it’s easier to rally the troops when you have a small majority than when you have a large one.

Will the Walker and Vos next steps lead to a more open and inclusive government in Wisconsin? Will compromise unlock the deadlock in Washington? We can only hope.

Will the voters stay restive? Incumbents everywhere can only hope not.

It is hard to get specific about what makes them uneasy, unhappy, and unusually fearful, but whatever it is, it can result again in another round of throwing the rascals out if not assuaged.

In the end what’s next in Wisconsin depends to a very large extent on what Governor Walker and Speaker Vos decide is the most effective way to advance their not so hidden career ambitions.

The answer to the “Now what?” question will be found by keeping an eye on the governor and the speaker. Everything else is noise.

Bill Kraus lives in Madison, is the former press secretary for Governor Lee Dreyfus, and is the Chair of the State Governing Board of Common Cause of Wisconsin.

Follow Bill Kraus on:

twitter / wmkraus

1 comment:

  1. I had not entertained the notion of Vos running for Governor. But when stated it makes perfect sense. And bodes very ill for those of us that work in government. And frankly anyone hoping to work in Wisconsin. Has anyone heard anything about a jobs agenda from the folks in charge? Didn't think so. They talk about it a lot but don't actually do anything about it. And guess what? No one notices. Or at least the majority that put them back in office don't. Or they don't care.