Wisconsin's political pawns


The governor is "using human beings as political pawns," said Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller in response to the layoff notices Gov. Scott Walker sent to 1,500 state workers last Friday. He called the governor's action a "new level of hostility." These are serious accusations that take on a moral dimension and beg contemplation of Sen. Miller's political philosophy. If Miller is right about Walker, we should all be concerned.

Political pawns are persons sacrificed for the sake of obtaining a political goal. In essence, Sen. Miller contends that Gov. Walker has been exploiting state workers to achieve his political goals-luring AWOL Democrat senators back to the capitol and balancing Wisconsin's budget.

Has Walker been using state workers as political pawns? Is the issuance of layoff notices a hostile act? In short, has Walker been acting immorally?

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Considering the reality of the situation, Walker has a giant financial problem on his hands and he knows that county and local governments do as well. Wisconsin has to cut expenses and, yes, some state workers will lose collective bargaining rights for benefits plans. But Walker, a past county executive, believes Wisconsin's governments have run out of money and can't be held as political hostages to union bargaining any longer.

The governor doesn't appear to be acting immorally, using people as political pawns, or raising Wisconsin politics to a new level of hostility. Rather, he is trying to deal responsibly with a tough fiscal situation and keep Wisconsin's government employees on the job.

In fact, it is Miller and the left who have been playing chicken with the livelihood of state employees while embracing Marxist-like class conflict rhetoric and tactics to deal with very real budget problems. Walker represents the bourgeoisie, state workers represent the proletariat, and Democrat senators have been content to determine Wisconsin's future by fomenting conflict rather than legislating responsibly.

Yes, human beings are being used as political pawns. But it's Miller, not Walker, who has been playing them like a Russian chess champion.

Lee Wishing
Lee Wishing

Lee is the administrative director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.


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