Nearly a week ago, Gov. Scott Walker won round one of the Wisconsin budget battle by outmaneuvering absent Democrats and ramming through anti-union legislation. Despite sustained protests by thousands of citizens, Walker wouldn't compromise on the collective bargaining rights part of his controversial "budget repair bill." The union protesters' outrage, ad campaign, and financial concessions didn't sway him a bit.
Now, courtesy of The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, we know where Walker possibly drew his "no compromise" strategy inspiration from: his 1988 college campaign for student body president. A "Democratic source" sent Stein a newspaper clip and a campaign brochure documenting his contentious race for school president. Walker's strategy? Contrast his leadership style with the "rabble-rousing, protest-leading, vague idealism of his opponent." From his campaign literature:
"Scott knows that student protests and sit-ins are poor substitutes for effective leadership and reasoned argument," the brochure reads. "In contrast, his opponent has publicly encouraged much demonstration and has tried to lead several ineffective protests of his own."
Stein admits that the comparison is an imperfect one. However, he notes, "there certainly appears to be a defining trait that threads the two together....For Scott, the inclination has been to demonize the crowds." Or the absent Democratic lawmakers, as he appeared to do in this statement shortly after the standoff:
"The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused," Walker said. "In order to move the state forward, I applaud the Legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government."
In case you're wondering, Walker eventually lost the student body election.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.