Op Ed

The 10 Worst Politicians of 2021

The competition was really stiff this year, but here are the very worst.

By - Dec 29th, 2021 12:39 pm
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. File photo by Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. File photo by Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Who were the worst politicians in 2021? In the Age of Trump there is so much competition for the top spot.

Is it worse to be an idiot fascist or a smart fascist? A guy like Donald Trump is a perfect representation of the former, and he did do a lot of damage, but a guy like Mitch McConnell is the latter and so, does he deserve a hotter place in hell for knowing better?

It’s not a question with one simple answer, but the interplay between idiot and smart fascists plays a role in our rankings. Here’s the countdown.

10. Devin LeMahieu. Back in January the new Republican state Senate Majority Leader showed promise right out of the box, when he announced that he was working with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on a COVID relief package. But Speaker Robin Vos quickly put him in his place and he’s been taking his orders from Vos ever since. Fries with that, Mr. Speaker?

9. Mitch McConnell. The Senate Minority Leader bloviates about the integrity of the institution when he defends the filibuster — never mind that he weakened it more than anyone else when he dispensed with it for Supreme Court nominees. Previous Republican leaders, like Everett Dirksen, worked constructively with Democratic presidents to add some conservative tint to their legislation. They respected the will of the voters who installed the majority. But McConnell’s just an obstructionist, which wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t pretend to be a statesman.

8. Progressive Democrats. First they held Pres. Biden’s popular, bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage for months, hoping to pass another bill that amounted to a progressive cafeteria line without a unifying theme or a narrative that average Americans could follow. Now they’re on the verge of driving Sen. Joe Manchin from the party, making Mitch McConnell (see above) the new Majority Leader. The heck of it is, I’m with these people on many issues. But nobody knows how to screw up progress better than progressives.

7. Kevin McCarthy. The Speaker in Waiting couldn’t bring himself to call out his craziest members, even when one of them crossed the line by joking about, oh I don’t know, killing a Democratic colleague. And that Insurrection thing? It was just a tour group that got outside the velvet ropes. Also, consider McCarthy a stand-in for the 193 House Republicans and 43 GOP Senators who voted against impeaching Trump for inciting that riot. We’ve only got so much room.

6. Tom Tiffany and Scott FitzgeraldLet’s not let these two Wisconsin Congressmen off the hook by including them in that 193 member mass of dishonor. Let’s call out these two for being the only Wisconsin House members who voted not to certify Joe Biden as the clear winner of the Presidency. A lot of Republicans worked at undermining the very foundation of our Democracy this year, but those who voted against the simple, honest and normally routine certification of the results of a free and fair election deserve special contempt.

5. Most of the Madison School Board. If there’s one thing you learn by observing this school board it’s that they are laser focussed on making excuses for violent and disruptive kids. The vast majority of hard-working students who just want to learn? Well, they’d better just check their “privilege” at the door.

4. Rebecca Kleefisch. I’m not sure I’ve got her in the right category. Maybe I should have created a new list of unintentionally wonderful pols. It should be a Republican year and with Gov. Tony Evers’ numbers underwater, a Republican should be the odds-on-favorite to turn the “executive residence” into the “governor’s mansion.” (Democrats refer to it as the former, Republicans the latter.) But Kleefisch is such a thoroughly Trumpy candidate, in the mold of Ron Johnson, that she may find a way to keep Evers around for another four years.

3. Ron Johnson. Is he alright? Let’s see, he denies climate change, the Insurrection, the integrity of our elections and COVID vaccines. Sometimes I question whether I should be outraged by the guy or concerned for his mental health. I recommend a daily regimen of Scope. At least he’ll have fresh breath when he exhales insanity and inanity.

2. Michael Gableman. Now this is where the rubber meets the road on the idiot fascist/smart fascist debate. The mighty leader of the bogus, partisan and embarrassing “investigation” into last year’s election, Gableman is a clown and a fool. We’re told his doctor doesn’t allow him to chew gum while walking, as this would present a choking hazard in his case. You can’t take the guy seriously. But while he’s bungling around, and blowing taxpayer money, he’s keeping alive the unfounded claims that our election system is rigged. If he were smarter he might be more effective, but on the other hand, if he had half a brain he wouldn’t have taken the job in the first place. Which brings us to this year’s winner for the Worst Pol of 2021…

1. Robin Vos. For pure evil, you can’t beat this boy. The longest serving Speaker in Wisconsin history is undeniably smart, and from time to time, he’s even tested the waters on speaking up for simple factual reality. He did a public service announcement with his friend, liberal Democrat Mark Pocan, urging people to follow COVID protocols. And he initially pushed back on calls for partisan investigations into clearly false claims of election fraud. But when he felt a little heat, he wilted and appointed Gableman, giving him an initial budget of $676,000 which will now be exceeded. If anything, his furtive dances with doing the right thing make his ultimate decisions to do the wrong thing even worse. This is a smart guy who knows what needs to be done to protect the institutions of our democracy. And yet he does just the opposite to stay in power.

So, there you have it. I’m sure I’ve left deserving candidates on the sidelines, but we like to keep our standards high (or low, in the case) here at YSDA. Feel free to offer your own nominees below.

Dave Cieslewicz, Editor, Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

6 thoughts on “Op Ed: The 10 Worst Politicians of 2021”

  1. gerrybroderick says:

    Ah, dweeb of dweebs amid the dross,
    The bumbling, fumbling, Robin Vos,
    Peering through his navel said:
    “It’s dark up here. Where is my head?”

  2. kaygeeret says:

    the comment above – –

    Clever, funny and totally on point!

    Thank you gerrybroderick

  3. frank a schneiger says:

    There is a problem with this column. The problem is that it is both clever and entertaining, and, in the process, tends to obscure the fact that a year from now we could be looking at democracy in the rear-view mirror. And, potentially, living in a country engulfed in civil violence because the mid-term elections were seen as being illegitimate.

    The people on this list, including a U.S. Senator, and with the exception of Mitch McConnell, are all bit players and front men in the larger effort to destroy democracy in this country. Dave Cislewicz uses the term “fascist” to describe some of these people. But most of them lack the self-awareness to be fascists; except in the worship of the leader and the notion that their group, white people, are victims and, therefore, justified in anything they do to “the others,” especially minorities and the hated “liberals.” And, McConnell really isn’t a fascist, just one of the most cynical political leaders in American history, but one with no ideology, except greed and power.

    A less-entertaining but more revealing list would include the Bradley Foundation, including its board member, Cleta Mitchell, the architect of the national effort to undermine democracy, and the plutocrats who have made Wisconsin one of the centers in the process to destroy it. Less entertaining, but more revealing of the threat that we face today.

  4. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Started voting in 1972 and I never voted for a Republican. Now that the Democrats are rigging the Presidential Primaries (2016 for Hillary and 2020 for Biden), I am no longer voting for Democrats or Republicans.

    The White House and Congress are controlled by Wall Street. Citi Bank gave Obama a list of 16 names in 2008 and all 16 of those people ended up in Obama’s Cabinet. Lloyd Blankfein paid Hillary $500,000 for every 30 minute speech she gave to Goldman Sachs. Pelosi is earning millions of dollars in the stock market, buying and selling shares of companies that she’s awarding government contracts to.

    In 2016, Chuck Schumer told Hillary to abandon blue collar, Democratic workers in the Midwest and campaign to Republican voters intead “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” – Chuck Schumer, 2016.

    Most of Biden’s time is spent waging wars in the Middle East, overthrowing democratically elected governments like Egypt and Ukraine, and threatening to start war against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

    Schumer, Pelosi, Biden, Obama, and Hillary are actually Republicans with a capital “D” after their names.

  5. ringo muldano says:

    NWK – Is there a Wisconsin Dem you would put on that list? You are seriously going to sit on the side and let a naked corrupt can’t like Rebecca Kleefisch become gov? Come on mate. You better get right with god.

  6. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Ringo –

    I won’t vote for Goldman Sachs banker Alex Lasry. He claims to be “The Working Man’s Candidate”, even though he was born with a diamond studded gold spoon in his mouth. Lasry claims that 80% of contributions to his US Senate campaign are less than $100, proving that he’s supported by average working people. But when you look at his actual campaign contributions on the Federal Election Commission web site, 99% of donations to Larsy are at the $2,900 limit and his donors are mostly millionaires and billionaires. Lasry is a no good rotten liar.

    I won’t vote for Sarah Godlewski. Godlewski’s foreign policy wan’t “hawkish” enough for Israel. Godlewski was told that her foreign policy needed to be rewritten. (Linda Frank, a co-chair of Wisconsin Jewish Democrats, said Godlewski sought feedback from Jewish leaders at the state and national levels as she was crafting her Israel position paper. Frank said Godlewski was told she had to “retool” some parts, including instances in which she had conflated Jews with Israelis. “She listened and took it to heart,” said Frank, who is personally supporting Godlewski’s Senate bid.)


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