A Guide to Scott Walker's Hyperpolarized Home Base
February 5, 2015 2:32 PM Subscribe
He has succeeded in the sort of environment least conducive to producing a candidate capable of winning a national majority. Over the past few decades, Walker's home turf of metropolitan Milwaukee has developed into the most bitterly divided political ground in the country—"the most polarized part of a polarized state in a polarized nation," as a recent series by Craig Gilbert in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it.Wisconsin's governor will be announcing his intention to run for President of the United States in any... day... now. Last summer, TNR published a lengthy profile of his politics and persona: The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker.
Thanks to a quirk of twentieth-century history, the region encompasses a heavily Democratic and African American urban center, and suburbs that are far more uniformly white and Republican than those in any other Northern city, with a moat of resentment running between the two zones. As a result, the area has given rise to some of the most worrisome trends in American political life in supercharged form: profound racial inequality, extreme political segregation, a parallel-universe news media. These trends predate Walker, but they have enabled his ascent, and his tenure in government has only served to intensify them. Anyone who believes that he is the Republican to save his party—let alone win a presidential election—needs to understand the toxic and ruptured landscape he will leave behind.
Walker's recent State of the State address included the official announcement of his intent to start drug testing all recipients of health care, nutrition, welfare, and unemployment benefits, a plan that has already received garnered pushback at the federal level.
Walker's 2015-2017 state budget [PDF] also reduces state funding for the University of Wisconsin system by $300 million, which comprises 13% of state-provided funding and 2.5% of UW's overall funding. The UW System budget cuts will be coupled with a two-year tuition freeze.
At a recent GOP rally, Walker offered up some advice to UW's enervated budget administrators, suggesting that "they might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class a semester."
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