Today’s output from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute’s state-of-the-art HEMMED (High-Energy Meta Mojo Elucidation Detector) machine is the long and winding road of tea party politics leading to a high speed derailment.

Back in 2010, people were surprised that a candidate for governor of Wisconsin would run on a platform of turning down federal money that would create Wisconsin jobs. Of course, those people stayed home (frozen in surprise?) and that candidate was elected governor.

Notwithstanding the fact that a federal budget deficit does not impact Wisconsin taxes in any way (Hey! Facts, schmacts … who needs ’em!) Scott Walker ran on turning down the Federal money and by golly he was going to follow through on that threat promise.

A long and winding road …

The tortuous route of that money can be tracked here:
• Tea Party Governor-Elect Scott Walker (R-WI) stands on principle and turns down money for high-speed rail and current Amtrak repairs citing the “federal budget deficit” and “fiscal responsibility” and “taxes.”
• Secretary of Transportation Roy LaHood says “okey dokey” and divvies up the money that Wisconsin would have gotten and gives some to California, some to Florida and some to the Northeast.
• Tea Party governor Rick Scott (R-FL) stands on principle and turns down money for high-speed rail that included guarantees from the rail industry that they will cover losses citing the “federal budget deficit” and “fiscal responsibility” and “taxes”. Plus “when I can hurt people I feel better about myself.”
• Tea Party governor Scott Walker (R-WI) “realizes” that Wisconsin is required to pay for current Amtrak repaire and upgrades and applies for federal funds to cover that cost.
• The Obama Administration divvies up the high-speed rail money from Florida to states where the money will be used for high-speed rail not to cover a tea party governor’s patootie.

Two things popped into my head when I read this story. Well, actually three things but only two that I can share on a family blog.

National agenda … hop aboard!

First, this should finally put to rest any doubt that there is a national agenda behind the ascendancy of these new governors. Politics is the second oldest profession and politicians generally consider pandering to his or her constituents (with an eye on the next election) as an important part of their job. In this case, the needs of their states have been subsumed to the larger national goal. Not spending earmarked federal money in your state does not cut your state’s taxes. Not spending earmarked federal money does not even cut federal taxes. It is going to be spent and the only question is where.

Second, how long do these governors think that they can fool the people who elected them and, more importantly, the state legislators who were not swept in on the tea party sewer overflow … and might have a modicum of sense left? When elected officials see big pots of money leaving their states and people starting to ask uncomfortable questions, won’t they wake up? Do those who still consider themselves politically viable really want to be dragged down by unpopular governors with unpopular agendas?

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker is anxious to push through what he calls his “aggressive” agenda for Wisconsin. We have recall elections for state senate seats slated for July 12th that may eventually set up a firewall in the legislature against the worst that he may try to do. However, there are 63 days between now and July 12th and even if the election were to give us a net of 3 new Democratic state senate seats, the incumbents will continue “to perform the duties until a certificate of election is issued to the successor. §9.10(5)(b), Wis. Stats.” (The statutes call for the certificate to be issued within three days).

Self-preservation? Hope springs eternal …

Are there any reasonable Republicans left? Probably not. But are there long-time state legislators who will figure out that they are being used as pawns in a national strategy that will gain them and their state nothing? Maybe.

In Realworldia, we have to deal with Reality (that’s where it got it’s name from!). We can’t fix some things right away because in a small-d democracy the winner takes all. But we can make sure that the heat is turned up enough so that politicians seeking self-preservation feel compelled to stop the ugliest of the national agenda.

And since we probably aren’t ever going to replace them all, it is not wasted effort to try to convince them of the error of their ways. We can remind them that long after doesn’t-care-about-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has moved to the national stage or the movement he is part of has been relegated to the dustbin of history, our state will be here. Whether it endures as something we can be proud of or mourned for what it used to be is up to them.

Buck(y) up, Badger State politicians. Look past your party to our shared Past and declare yourselves Present for our Future.


Happy Tuesday to everyone and fist bumps!

The BPI Campus Progressive agenda:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.

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