Y Marks the Spot: Power Corrupts

There have been but two times in my life when I was embarrassed to be from Wisconsin.  Not just homeland angsty and wanderlusty, but full out What the Fuck.  The first time happened during Brett Favre’s final year with the Packers, when I had to deal with hordes of weepy Sconnies who lined up for hours and rampaged through my store every time Sports Illustrated released a commemorative issue with the QB on its cover (this happened three times, if I remember correctly). To be diplomatic, it got pretty out of hand.  This statewide mourning is made all the worse when I wonder how many people tossed their memorabilia once Favre went rogue and rendered all that weeping and wailing pointless.

But my pretty intense annoyance during the Favre Funeral is small potatoes compared to the shame I felt when Wisconsin went insane and jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon in last year’s elections.  The most embarrassing of these contests saw Russ Feingold, the only senator who voted against the Patriot Act in the knee-jerk of 9/11, a senator whose recently castrated McCain/Feingold Act attempted to stop the wholesale purchasing of elections by corporations, beaten by Ron Johnson, a Tea Party stooge who fully subscribes to the repressive solipsism (translation: Fuck the world, I’ve got mine!) that’s so popular among good, moral conservatives these days.

As I watched Wisconsin lose its shit on Election Night, I watched Johnson say something in his acceptance speech that really stuck with me and set the tone for where Wisconsin is likely headed.

“Our nation has dug itself a very deep hole,” Johnson said, “and we’re just simple Wisconsin folks here; we know what needs to be done trying to get out of a deep hole.  You first have to start digging.”

Aside from the fact that I really hate the stereotype that all Wisconsinites are aw-shucks bumpkins, I’d think that the best way to get out of a hole would be to give climbing a try.  Apparently, Wisconsin’s new senator believes in digging deeper.  That will end well.

Johnson certainly talks a good game of batshit.  In terms of action, however, it seems as though the senator is getting overshadowed by the state’s new governor – or as I’ve come to refer to Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Dubya.  Running a campaign based on a promise to kill off any chance of Wisconsin getting a respectable mass transit system, one of Walker’s first acts upon winning the election – not even waiting to take office – was to pull the political equivalent of a child throwing himself on the ground and screaming its head off.  The light rail project, Walker demanded, would die, on the sole reason that he said so.  As a result, then-governor Doyle totally lame-ducked and abandoned the project.

Now Little Dubya is going after public unions, stating that he will completely destroy their right to negotiate the terms of their employee’s working conditions.  And if anyone disagrees with him, tough shit.  Once again, Walker is attempting to push this through with absolutely no respect for process.  Apparently he believes that “because I said so” is an adequate form of governance.

I’d call that a form of dictatorship.

Scott Walker is a motherfucker (and being that my mom works for peanuts in Wisconsin’s public school system and is part of one of the unions he’s going after, I feel rather justified in calling Scott Walker a motherfucker).  But let’s not pretend that this jackoff’s blatant power grab is unique to his position or political ideology.  No person in any position of power, whether it lies in business, politics, the media, or even those very unions, should be viewed as anything better than a potential bastard.

I know that America’s collective attention span runs about as strong as the amnesiac from Memento, but I think it’s pretty ridiculous that some on the left end of the fence, people for whom the excesses of the Bush administration should still be an open wound, find fault with Obama for not acting more like his predecessor, as though tantrum government can be excused for the right cause.  Why couldn’t Obama ram through a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or a health care plan that isn’t completely profit-based?  Well, because if he did that, who’s to say what else he could get away with?  Lefty as I may lean, as much as I think Obama’s brand of political cool is the best thing to happen to politics in ages – and as much as I’d like to live in a country without second-class citizens and a little Canadian-style health care – free reign is something that nobody, anywhere, ever, should have.

While I’m far from being a Founding Fathers fetishist, I strongly feel that the concept of checks and balances, popularized in its current form by Montesquieu and implemented by America’s creators, is the most brilliant aspect of American government.  That said, the idea can’t be limited to branches of government alone (or Democrat vs. Republican).  The potential tyrannies of business and media are just as dangerous as those of any politician.  In the case of information, the internet has become the counterbalance to centralized propaganda.  In that of business, the counterbalances to corporations are governmental regulation and the unions.  They’re all necessary.

If you like not living like a serf, if you like working only 8 hours a day, if you like whatever meager benefits you have left, please don’t delude yourself into thinking that your standard of living was gained without a fight.  The people pulling the strings never just give up that control out of the goodness of their hearts.  Where the bottom line is concerned, there is no such thing as goodness.

Either Wisconsin’s governor feels differently and is an idiot, or he knows this and is an asshole.