The year was 1988 – current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is running for Marquette University student body President. Hoping to shake off the embarrassing loss to a write-in candidate for resident hall President the year before, Walker is pulling out all the charm and hardnosed political tactics at his disposal. Things are going well until the student newspaper retracts its endorsement, calling candidate Walker “unfit for office”, but I am getting ahead of myself.
For the 99% of you reading this essay – who are not from Wisconsin – Scott Walker is the latest tea party right wing, uneducated, superstitious nut job bent upon destroying America with a virulent form of conservatism bordering upon fascism. In early 2011, after only days in office, and without running on the issue, Walker threatened to call out the state national guard to ram through reforms to gut public unions. Over coming months, Wisconsin citizens fought back – coming out by the hundreds of thousands in a “Cheddar Rebellion” to protest and occupy the state capitol – and though ultimately unsuccessful, laying the foundation for the Occupy Movement.
Thus began a year of Walker’s war upon the unions, environment, women, education and basic human decency. And Wisconsin’s solid and hard-working people – that respect human rights, political institutions, and fairness – are still fighting back with a recall election this coming June 5th. After nearly a million recall signatures were gathered, Governor Walker could become only the third governor in American history to be booted from office. Ecological Internet and I are based in Wisconsin, and were deeply involved in the original protests.
I had the misfortune of being a college classmate of Scott Walker. Walker attended Marquette from 1986 to 1990, two years younger than I. He was a laughable dork – dumb, full of himself, and authoritarian. Being deeply imperfect myself, nonetheless, I have to speak up on how going to college with Walker showed him to be a piece of work. And that his bad conduct, which began there, and led to a harsh and unjust start to his political life, which remains ugly and dangerous to this day, do in fact indicate Walker remains unfit for office.
Fresh from Badger Boys State leadership conference, freshly shorn of his mullet, and in ill-fitting suits; Scott rolled onto campus in 1986 at 18 already running for office. He was constantly speaking in sound bites, with a false sugary sweetness, about taxes and abortion – the only issues which Scott Walker truly cared about other than his personal quest for power.
To put it politely, Walker was not the sharpest tool in the shed, actually amongst the least sharp. With a C average (if that) and never graduating, I am not surprised to see him making up his own math on jobs when the real numbers don’t suit him. This reflects the utter disdain with which he holds truth, knowledge, education, and anything else that clashes with his absolutist worldview of religious and corporate based rule. As a classmate, he displayed a shocking lack of curiosity, original thought, or interest in topics other than his political ascendency.
Walker’s debut in Marquette student politics as a freshman began by stirring up the campus with a McCarthyite investigation into misspending by the Homecoming committee. Despite the President and Vice-President of student government having already resigned over personal expenditures by a larger group of student leaders from student funds – including myself and others unknowingly – no criminal charges of any kind, and no hard evidence of wrong-doing by anyone – Walker grandstands and leads a student government trial of myself and others, that could have been avoided if he so chose.
Walker lost on all counts, but not before destroying a few people’s reputations, and amassing personal power. Sound familiar? Thus began an over 25 year record of bullying to get what he wants, of being insincere and narcissistic, and political grandstanding at the expense of others¸ all for personal self-aggrandizement, and without an ounce of either personal or political virtue.
Later in his freshman year Walker runs for his first campus-wide office – the President of the resident halls – and is beaten by a hastily cobbled together write-in campaign which I helped organize. Already the campus had soured upon a plastic, dishonest, conniving personality.
During Walker’s student body Presidential campaign in his sophomore year, things only worsen. Initially the Marquette Tribune student newspaper endorsed Walker’s opponent – a progressive activist working on social justice issues in the community – but said both would make a good student body president.
But this tepid endorsement changed after Walker was sanctioned for illegal campaigning on numerous occasions, and brutal personal attacks upon his opponent’s character. Walker distributed a mudslinging brochure about his opponent that featured statements such as “constantly shouting about fighting the administration” and “trying to lead several ineffective protests of his own.”
Meanwhile Walker’s campaign was secretly and systematically throwing out copies of the newspaper that endorsed his opponent. In an unprecedented move, the newspaper retracted itself and declared Walker “unfit for office.” He lost in a land slide and was deeply humiliated by his poor conduct.
Thus began an early pattern of ridiculing those concerned with social justice, homelessness, militarism, and racism. Forget about it, in his corporatist and religious world, such issues are not of concern. To care for others’ needs is unlikely to further his political power grab. Reducing taxes and ruling women’s bodies is all he cared about then, and all he seems to care passionately about now.
Scott Walker shamed himself by the way he acted at Marquette. His campaign was one of the dirtiest in school history. Walker left the university not long afterward. The fact that Walker has refused to release his transcripts, along with information why he left, raises reasonable questions if Walker left school on his own volition, as he claims, or if there was another reasons and he was kicked out.
I wish I could say definitely why he never graduated; it is a closely guarded secret. I believe the general line of thinking – that Scott Walker was caught cheating. Both Walker and Marquette University should end their cover-up of what occurred. Instead Marquette hails Walkers as a “Marquette alumnus” even though he only attended and did not graduate.
I should note that in his junior year, after being pummeled in student politics, Walker seemed a reformed and humbled man, and tried to make amends. For a while he was just himself, and not always conniving to get something with false plastic, creepy insincerity. Indeed, I have fond memories of drinking beers with a more humane Walker, as friendly adversaries. Yet clearly he went back over to the dark side after leaving Marquette, returning to his scorched Earth, divide-and-conquer mentality that got him in so much trouble there, and to this day.
Scott Walker is still unfit for office. During his time as Milwaukee County executive, massive illegal fund-raising went on feet from his office door. In the past year and a half, Governor Walker preemptively threatened not only eerily to call out the National Guard, he threatened to illegally arrest political opponents. He refers to hard working nurses, fire-fighters, cops, teachers, and government workers as union thugs. For months he illegally limited access to the Capitol – the people’s house. Corporate interests were given the keys to the state, and told to go forth and plunder.
And now Governor Walker has sold out the state to the national tea party movement for a 25 to 1 advantage in money for his recall campaign – and is saturating the airwaves with lies, trying to buy the election.
In closing, let me note it is really sad to see a politician taking advantage of the jealousy between those that did not work hard in school, did not get an education, and thus have smaller opportunities; and those that worked hard to build their minds, and now work in professional, yet underpaid public service jobs. His campaign preys upon class jealousy, ignorance and racism in rural areas, kowtowing to the lowest denominator of decency in the populace.
I know a petty tyrant when I see one. Scott Walker is concerned with one thing, power. He has shown time and again that he has a very limited view of the world, and will ram through policies not because they work or he believes in them, but because he is an aspiring tinpot dictator.
Walker seeks to consolidate his power with every move he makes. Everything comes down to a cruel calculus of whether it benefits him personally politically, with no concern regarding the line of victims behind him, or concern with such “socialist” virtues as human rights, economic justice, equity, and sustaining ecology.
Walker’s glib narcissism borders upon sociopathy. If this is the best the right wing nut jobs have, we are in profound trouble as ecosystems, rights, justice, and equity are all rolled back in the interest of low paying jobs and corporate rule. In fact, Walker’s conduct meets all the definitions of a classic fascist – authoritarian, gutting unions and education, scapegoating, threatening violence, vilifying critics, being charming yet falsely charismatic, and commitment to corporatist rule.
Scott Walker is a bad and dangerous man. There is something fundamentally wrong with Walker’s personality that makes him unfit for office – both then and now. That’s my and many others’ conclusion after seeing how abusive and ill-tempered he was then, and how bad of political bully he has become.
Let me be clear – I have not a shred of jealousy regarding my former classmate. I would never want to rule over women’s bodies, dismantle Wisconsin’s prized educational system, sell-out the state with massive tax breaks to out-of-state corporations, or wage war upon tribal rice lands and working families. And I recognize unions – the right to associate with others to organize to sell your labor to the highest bidder – to be a fundamental human right.
I am not fit to be governor, and abhor local politics, focusing instead upon issues of global ecological sustainability. And I was no angel in college, partying too much and a caddish oaf towards women, despite graduating with honors. But I am not running for governor, nor misrepresenting myself like Walker, and certainly not untruthfully taking away others’ rights, while again trying to steal an election, in order to cravenly pursue absolute power.
I don’t know who will win the recall, but I do know that if you are expecting things to settle down if Walker wins, you are going to be disappointed. For his whole life Walker has created crises to then divide and conquer opposition in order to consolidate his power.
Though Governor Walker never attained the Marquette student body Presidency – he has an awful lot in common with one of Wisconsin’s other infamous politicians who did – Senator Joe McCarthy. Have you no sense of decency, Scottie, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?