When Tony Evers challenged Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the Democrat promised to reverse the Walker’s anti-labor agenda. His platform featured a “Worker Rights” agenda; he welcomed endorsements from Labor groups; and he proudly appeared in union halls.
“It’s no secret Scott Walker has made his career by attacking Wisconsin’s workers time and time again,” Evers’ campaign declared in 2018. “This ends in an Evers Administration.”
That was not an idle promise. Since taking office, Evers has endeavored to renew Wisconsin’s historic commitment to worker rights. Recently, he announced an ambitious plan to overturn the noxious “right-to-work” legislation and assaults on prevailing-wage protections that were a centerpiece of Walker’s second-term agenda.
Walker signed Wisconsin’s “right-to-work” law as he was preparing a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, planning to take his anti-labor program to the national stage. Walker miscalculated; his campaign went nowhere after Donald Trump shredded the Wisconsinite in debates — with his declaration that, under Walker, “Wisconsin’s doing terribly. It’s in turmoil.”
After Walker crashed and burned as a contender for higher office, he announced that, instead of the presidency, he really wanted another term as governor. But Evers, the state’s longtime superintendent of public instruction, objected. Evers mounted a campaign that highlighted the damage done to the state by Walker’s implementation of policies that were popular with the Koch brothers—cuts to education and public services, assaults on the environment, giveaways to multinational corporations—but that made no sense for working Wisconsinites.
Evers won, as did every other Wisconsin Democrat who was running for statewide office in 2018.
But replacing Walker was only step one. Now, two months into his governorship, Evers is focused on step two: replacing the special-interest-dictated program that discarded Wisconsin’s traditional Main Street Republicanism —as exemplified by former Governor Tommy Thompson — in favor of the cruel politics of Walkerism.
In the ambitious “people’s budget” that Evers unveiled last week, the new governor pointed, at virtually every turn, in a different direction from where Walker was headed.
“We have to be a better version of democracy than we have been in the past. At times, we’ve succumbed to the trivial pursuit of political outposturing. At times, we’ve let partisanship cloud the opportunity for compromise. And at times, we’ve let power be the enemy of the good,” said Evers. “This cannot be one of those times. We cannot afford to play politics… the stakes are simply too high.”
(Excerpted from The Nation.)