Can’t the children just play nicely?
Supposedly, the role of a governor and the various representatives elected to serve in a state legislature is to do the bidding of the people. Really now? Watching ours lately is more like observing a bunch of spoiled kids fighting over the best bouncy horse on the playground.
Take just this week, for instance. Last Friday, Gov. Tony Evers announced he was calling a special session of the Assembly and Senate for Monday to take up a set of bills on police reforms that he had first proposed two months ago. That package was first introduced after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ignored by Republicans in the Legislature, and now brought back to the table by the governor following the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha recently.
True to form, both the Republican- controlled Assembly and Senate opened the special session on Monday, and in less than 30 seconds gavelled it closed again. That maneuver allowed the groups to meet the law that says they must respond to a governor’s special session call, but, of course, the impact was to spit in Evers’ face and let him know once again that partisan politics is what matters, not the “bidding of the people.” The GOP used the same tactic earlier this year when Evers called a special session for gun control measures.
Evers, for his part in the childishness, knew what the Republicans would do with his latest special session request, but he went ahead anyway and called for it. That maybe appeased the faction that is calling for police reform so he can say, “See, I tried,” but really, what was the point? In the first place, the reform package was mostly a weak response to protests and allegations of unfair policing practices, and would do little more than reaffirm long-standing police policies.
The Republican claim on Monday was that legislators want more time to put together a better set of reforms. Alright, but somebody write that down, and check back later to see if that pledge is ever kept. If GOP (in)action on health care reform is any indication, all we are seeing here is obstructionism in its most blatant form, and no intent of ever coming back to the table with anything better. The goal may well be simply to stop Evers from getting a political win, no matter how small. Don’t forget, too, that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is running for a seat in Congress in November, and far be it from him to delay action on anything controversial that may hurt his chances of election.
There is no attempt on either side of the aisle to get to any business that would actually benefit the citizens of Wisconsin. No bill of any kind has been passed in Madison in almost five months, and all we witness is constant gamesmanship to either get a political victory, or find some way to stop the other side from getting one. The legislative leadership in place is as unscrupulous as any we’ve seen in its zest for confrontation, and we have a governor who’s ineffective because he has no majority in either legislative chamber to back anything he attempts.
It’s a sad state of affairs in Madison right now. Maybe the Nov. 3 election will shake loose the deadlock, but it’s doubtful. Don’t expect anything to get done soon that might actually fulfill the state motto of “Forward.”