Governor Scott Walker, Public Enemy Number One for progressives in Wisconsin, bowed out of a crowded Republican field in the Presidential race on Monday with poll numbers hovering around one-half of 1 percent.
Walker’s campaign reportedly concluded that there was no path forward to the nomination (and no more money flowing from rightwing billionaires, including the Koch brothers, who had been propping Walker up before he plummeted to less than the polling margin of error).
See Bill Lueders' coverage of Walker’s announcement.
Should Wisconsinites who came out by the tens of thousands to protest Walker, worked hard to recall him, and suffered through his re-election as governor not once but twice, feel good or bad that the man who so successfully divided and conquered the state pooped out on the national stage?
Walker departs not as the “bold,” “unintimidated” slayer of unions and the Wisconsin progressive tradition, but with a whimper.
When he announced his candidacy, Walker told supporters he was called by God to run for President. Apparently, God called back to say, “never mind.”
In Wisconsin, Walker’s path of destruction continues. Job creation lags the region and the nation and the state economy is suffering. Planned Parenthood clinics are closing. Schools, technical colleges and the university are losing hundreds of millions in funds. A scheme that expands school vouchers, sucking public money out of public schools and into private hands, is about to take a major toll. Walker and his allies have reversed 100 years of model environmental protections, set out to destroy the agency that oversees elections, and given away millions in tax dollars to corporate donors on the false promise that those companies would create new jobs.
Donald Trump did what 1 million citizen activists who knocked on doors and stood on corners in the bitter cold to gather signatures to recall Walker failed to do. In a couple of off-hand comments, one on the stump in Iowa and one in the last Republican debate, Trump dismissed the “disaster” Walker has made out of Wisconsin’s economy and infrastructure, and pushed Walker off the stage.
Walker now returns to the state he maimed in his quest for power. His approval rating is in the thirties.
The people who fought him here can take some satisfaction that, in his ultimate reach for power, he flopped.
But the fact that Walker was out-bullied by Trump, and that his racist dog-whistle was drowned out by Trump’s bullhorn, does not represent a triumph of sane, progressive politics in the United States.
Walker wasn’t ready for prime time, as his multiple gaffes and reversals made clear. He was also in the wrong place at the wrong time, standing next to Donald Trump.
But Walker’s success was never really about Walker. He was a willing vessel for a higher power. He said God told him to run, and when he bowed out he thanked God, “most of all.” But the real higher powers behind Walker were the Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who made his rise possible and wrote the policies he advocated and inflicted on Wisconsin.
They will find another vessel.
Citizens in Wisconsin and around the nation will have to keep organizing to stop them. Next time, we can’t count on Donald Trump.