Scott Walker is the second of many Republican candidates to drop out of the race due to financial difficulties, but the suspension of his campaign is the most remarkable thus far. Just a few months ago, Walker was the candidate that was going to bridge the gap between the activists and insiders within the Republican Party. He was the man with a proven conservative record governing a liberal state and could energize the base in a way a Jeb never could.
Unlike Tod Kelly, I was surprised how poorly Walker has been in a primary season that could have easily seen him setting the tone of the debate. Walker’s impressive fall is the result of many variables, but I can’t help but see his candidacy as the first casualty of Donald Trump. The reality star’s domination of the Republican debate took all the oxygen right out of Walker’s anti-union fiscal conservatism; the governor was merely not prepared to fight on issues not of his crafting.
More than any other Republican running, I hold special scorn for Walker, and thus can’t help but gloat at his campaign’s implosion. Although many of his competitor’s share his anti-union stance, Walker’s leadership style and tone was especially crass and divisive. Writing in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the editor’s forewarned the nation as a whole what to expect from the state’s governor:
“To win over the Republican base and stand out among the 15 declared candidates, Walker is bragging about his most divisive act — to all but end collective bargaining for public employee unions. He is a “fighter,” he says, and believes that Act 10 proves it. Passage of the controversial bill in 2011 led to weeks of angry protests in Madison and his recall. Walker won that race in 2012 in an election that brought him to the national stage. For Walker, surviving the recall was proof of his political bona fides.
But Walker’s over-the-top policy prescription — which went far beyond what was necessary — cleaved the state in two. If there is one thing the nation’s voters should understand as Walker promises to do for them what he did for us it is this:
Walker is the most divisive Wisconsin politician in living memory.
And that kind of governing is wearing thin with some voters here.”
Walker’s contentious hyperbole was on full display as he tried to pivot any and all policy question back to his role in beating the public employee unions. This core political scheme is fathomable and pardonable, until said candidate makes a truly lurid equivalence. When asked how he would deal with the threat of ISIS, Walker attempted to bring his governing strengths back into frame, reasoning that if he could take on “100,000 protesters,” he could “do the same across the globe.”
I was actually dazed by this statement. For some reason, every senseless idea brought up by Trump, Cruz, and Carson has seemed perfectly understandably in the context of a Republican primary, but to see parallels between teacher union’s protesting for better pay and a totalitarian theocratic organization bent on destruction was a bridge I didn’t expect a major candidate to make. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in my distaste for Scott’s reply. Jim Geraghty at National Review called Walker’s answer “a terrible response,” and “suggests Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups.” I knew at that moment that Walker had to be kept as far from the White House as possible.
There were few scenarios which would have found me voting for Scott Walker in 2016, but that comment made sure I would vote for anyone but him. If Trump ran as a Democrat with Cynthia Mckinney as his running mate, I would have joyfully marked my ballot in their favor if the alternative was Walker.
So tonight, I toast to the end of Walker’s presidential bid in a way that is hardly mature. While I throw back a few stiff hits from my bottle of Black Label (fittingly, Johnnie Walker’s finest scotch), I will refrain from making any gaudy comparisons between Scott’s governing bravura and Latin American strongmen. Such appraisals would be discourteous.
(Image: Scott Walker via Wikimedia)