Sunday, June 3, 2012

Historian John Gurda's Perfect Recall Frame In Journal Sentinel "Crossroads" Sunday

John Gurda hits a home run.

I sometimes think of Walker as a black-and-white TV in a world filled with color. He gets only one channel, and it's tuned to a program called "Scott Knows Best." If nearly half of us don't want to watch, he can safely dismiss us as moral relativists who dwell in the outer darkness.

Walker obviously has no patience with the traditional view of politics as a balancing of interests, a messy but necessary massaging of differences. For him and his tea party comrades, it's total war until we reach a state of, well, totalitarianism. There is something deeply undemocratic and downright dangerous about Walker's approach to government.

By pursuing a scorched-earth policy, by inspiring shock and awe rather than open debate, he and his allies have undermined the very institutions they were sworn to uphold. Shock and awe may be appropriate when you're trying to topple Saddam Hussein, but they are hardly the suggested strategy for dealing with your fellow citizens in a representative democracy.

Some readers, I know, believe that historians shouldn't have opinions, even when they're expressed in the opinion section of a daily newspaper. Well, this historian has definite opinions. I view Walker as an ahistoric figure who represents a sharp and painful break with Wisconsin's past.

He is an ideological outlier whom history will judge as the extremist he is, a divisive figure who has unleashed a toxic cloud of partisanship over the entire state. We can only hope that the aberration is temporary.

How do we extricate ourselves from this morass? Surely there is a balance point that will allow us to live in harmony with our neighbors again. Surely there is a way to govern that the great majority of us can endorse - a middle ground between the nanny state and the nano-state, between spending like drunken sailors and cutting like drunken surgeons. It is emphatically not a middle ground we will ever reach under Walker.

For the sake of Wisconsin's future, he richly deserves to be recalled.

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