In the 1950s, when responsible Wisconsinites of all parties proposed to remove the noxious Sen. Joe McCarthy from office, it was well understood that the struggle was about more than one man. It was necessary to defeat not merely McCarthy but McCarthyism.
So it is that Wisconsinites must vote in the June 5 recall election not just to end the tenure of Gov. Scott Walker. They must vote to end Walkerism — the corrupt and crudely divisive politics that rejects Wisconsin values, traditions, rules and ethical concerns in favor of a win-at-any-cost calculus.
No governor in the history of Wisconsin has attacked political foes and the organizations that support them as aggressively as Walker.
No governor in our history has divided the state as thoroughly as Walker.
No governor in our history has faced such serious ethical and legal questions as Walker.
No governor in our history has gone to the extremes that Walker has.
But Walker has not gone to those extremes on his own.
He has been supported every step of the way by former state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who is being challenged in a recall by Fort Atkinson photographer Lori Compas.
Fitzgerald, a full-time politician who has long been aligned with Walker, conspired with the governor to advance tax cuts for out-of-state corporations that robbed the state treasury of needed resources. He served as the legislative point man for Walker’s agenda, advancing it so aggressively that he closed off legitimate debate and claimed that open meetings laws did not apply to the Legislature.
At many turns during the past 14 months, Fitzgerald has been a steadier practitioner of Walkerism than Walker. And that has been doubly true since the recall fight began. He has been disrespectful of his constituents. He has made wild and unsubstantiated claims about the 13th District residents who sought to recall him — acting, even in the eyes of fellow Republicans, as if it were somehow inappropriate or dishonest to question so powerful a figure.
Fitzgerald recently told a Wisconsin State Journal reporter that Compas was not really running her own campaign. Fitzgerald suggested that Compas was fronting for her husband and other men who he seemed to believe were more politically worldly.
That claim was the last straw for many in the rural areas, villages and cities that make up the Republican-leaning 13th District. They knew that Compas had organized the recall of Fitzgerald from her kitchen table and that she had so impressed supporters of the initiative that they would eventually draft her as a reluctant candidate.
It is Fitzgerald, not Compas, who has failed to run his own campaign. He is an extension of Walkerism, pure and simple.
Compas would serve as a citizen-legislator. She is no careerist. She wants to fix things in Madison. And her approach is as practical as it is refreshing. She has the right priorities — respect for the essential role that public education and public services play in maintaining her district’s small towns and rural areas. But, just as importantly, she has the right style.
She is savvy, organized and passionate about serving as an independent and accountable legislator. Her election would not just remove an inept and irresponsible legislator from the Capitol. It would strike a blow against Walkerism and begin the process of healing Wisconsin.
Lori Compas has our enthusiastic endorsement. She is ready to serve, and she would serve the 13th District with a level of distinction far greater than Fitzgerald has mustered — or could be expected to muster in the future.
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