Friday, April 8, 2011

Probably Prosser Wins After All: The Two Wisconsin Traditions

With 14,000 missing votes from the City of Brookfield in pro-Prosser Waukesha County to the west of Milwaukee appearing late, Prosser now leads by several thousand, a pretty strong lead, if still a strong comeback by Kloppenburg from her 55-25% loss in the primary. Kloppenburg is asking for inspection of the results, and the county official in charge has strong GOP links and was accused of improprieties in a similar case in 2006 that switched the outcome of an election, but more likely than not, my recent post was wrong, even if I caveated that a recount could overturn the result (oh, and Hawthorne, I am at

In any case, even before this apparent switch in outcomes, I wish to address the nasty remarks by Gov. Walker from before this switch. Whereas Kloppenburg said her support was due to people wanting an independent judiciary, Walker used the occasion to slam the city of Madison as being out of touch with the rest of the state, despite the large number of counties that went for Kloppenburg, and clearly the state is deeply split and polarized and will once again be a toss-up close race in the next presidential election. There are two traditions there, with neither being able to claim some exclusivity or definitive edge in support.

One of them dates from the founding of the Republican Party in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, with many German refugees from the failed revolutions of 1848 participating, with them being strongly anti-slavery and reflecting the principles that would appear in the later Progressive movement, initiated by former Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt when he ran as a third candidate in 1912, coming in ahead of the incumbent Taft (who pathetically won only Utah), although Wilson won the election.

As it was, Wisconsin followed this movement probably more than any other state, with its Robert M. ("Fighting Bob") LaFollette, a governor and senator (whose distant cousin serves even now as Wisconsin Secretary of State, Douglas LaFollette), becoming a main national leader of the movement and party and its presidential candidate in at least one election. His bust is in the state Capitol, and he is widely regarded as the state's greatest political figure in its history. It was he and his movement who were largely responsible for Wisconsin initiating many social programs later adopted at the national level, such as workmens' compensation, and collective bargaining for public sector workers, the latter now apparently to be ended. In any case, Robert M. LaFollette, and his whole family, were and are from Madison. It is the home and fountainhead of that tradition, which Walker mocks.

The other tradition is from the other branch of the state Republican Party, the Joseph P. McCarthy branch. That Walker is truly of that branch is seen in the demands by some of his allies to examine the emails of UW Professor William Cronon, who has criticized him and some of those around him. This matter has been blogged about here before, but it perfectly symbolizes exactly what tradition Walker is in and whose footsteps he is following in. These two traditions are clearly closely balanced in the state.

Personally, I'll take Fighting Bob LaFollette over Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy any day.


Bill H aka run75441 said...
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