Walker Failed to Lead on Election Night
Not giving a concession speech showed his lack of character. And not the first such failure.
The most telling moment of Election Night in Wisconsin was not when the final votes were tallied in Dane and Milwaukee counties. Those ballots showed an overwhelming turnout of opposition to the Republican leadership. No, the most telling moment was when it became clear that Scott Walker would not make an appearance in front of cameras or his supporters.
There is something graceful, and needed for the entire electorate, when candidates who do not prevail still show an inner resolve to greet campaign workers and thank the voters. Many of those people had worked so very hard for him over the past many months. Even if Walker did not feel it was time to concede–based on whatever voting models they were considering–he still should have taken the stage and said thanks. To stay in private rooms and watch the returns be reported was not what Wisconsinites expected from this politician.
While I was really displeased over the way he handled his loss I also must say it was not surprising. After all, every action Walker has taken over the years has always been motivated by what best serves him, not the people he was elected to govern. It would have been a defining moment for Walker to step up to the podium, even at one of his lowest moments in life. That is what shows true character for a politician.
In the last days of the campaign Walker was not able to honestly address the topic of men, women, and children who are walking northwards through Mexico. He deflected reporter’s questions by saying it was a federal issue, and not one he would weigh in on. Forget that elected people should also be leaders and set moral tones. He knew by answering such a question with compassion it would surely cost him votes from his base. His internal polls must have shown there was not a lot of wiggle room for candor at that stage in the election.
There is plenty of room in our statewide dialogue to have robust differences about school funding, transportation needs, or the composition of the WEDC Board. The complexities of these, and a raft of other issues, are readily talked about by members of both parties. Sometimes the amount of talking issues to death can be most frustrating. But there also must be another level of conversation state leaders have with citizens.
Every response that is scripted and aimed at not making waves means honesty and authenticity is replaced by a consultant-driven approach to governing. That was very much the case when Walker was unable to respond to the immigrants fleeing violence and upheaval. He could have responded as a father or man of faith. Instead, he chose not to respond at all.
I realize one can argue Donald Trump is providing gut-level responses to countless issues. But clearly, expectations of decency and maturity need to always guide the words of elected officials. As such, I am trusting Tony Evers can again put into practice a level of conversation with honest appraisal about matters which, as a state, we care about.
Our politics can again be high-toned and honest. We can again have leadership that shows people a path forward as opposed to always a mere reflection of where we are presently. We have not had that in our state for many years.
Tony Evers can do that by talking honestly to the people he will now lead. I am hopeful.