If you ever thought that some of our state legislators are full of themselves, I give you today that true "statesman," Rep. Jesse Kremer, the Republican goof from the village of Kewaskum, which sits in what he proudly calls the reddest legislative district in the state.
Kremer announced this week that he won't run for re-election this fall, calling it quits after two terms in the state Assembly, where, while representing Washington and Fond du Lac counties, he famously professed that the Earth is but 6,000 years old and those dimwit scientists who place its age closer to 4.5 billion years are nothing more than a bunch of atheists.
Now surely that proves he's a statesman and in case you were still wondering, he tells us why.
While announcing his retirement Tuesday from the Legislature to take a corporate airline pilot job, he explained that "the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation." He was quoting American theologian James Freeman Clarke.
"I, for one, have strived to fall into the latter, a statesman, rather than the former, a politician," he added.
His stellar legislative record includes sponsoring bills to place gender restrictions on school bathrooms and locker rooms, to allow concealed carry permit-holders to carry weapons on school grounds and on college campuses, and to require the state to put photo IDs on food stamp recipients' debit cards.
None of these bill passed, nor did another that was aimed at so-called "sanctuary cities," presumably Madison. His bill would have made it illegal for local governments to forbid their law enforcement officers to pass on information about an arrested person's immigration status.
Meanwhile, he still hopes that two more of his statesmanlike bills, one to penalize students for disrupting campus speakers and another that would exempt significant amounts of police body camera videos from the state's open records law, will pass in the waning days of the current legislative session.
He's also been a staunch anti-abortion zealot and was the main sponsor of a bill that is now law and forbids women receiving abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Unless driving wedges between segments of society is the new definition of statesmanship, then I'd suggest Jesse Kremer is living in a dream world.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. Zweifel is the co-author, along with John Nichols, of the new book "The Capital Times: A Proudly Radical Newspaper's Century Long Fight for Justice and Peace," published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. It's available on the Historical Society website, and at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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