Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets guests at The Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium on July 18, 2015 in Ames, Iowa.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

Walker on Black Lives Matter: ‘Who knows who that is?’

A few presidential candidates have met with activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, as evidenced by Hillary Clinton’s discussion last week. Any chance Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) might be willing to do the same?
As the Capital Times in Madison reported the other day, the GOP presidential candidate seems reluctant, and to bolster his case, Walker compared Black Lives Matter’s decentralized structure to the Tea Party.
“I’m going to meet with voters … Who knows who that is?” Walker said in response to a Daily Mail reporter in New Hampshire who asked whether he would meet with the representatives of the group. “I’m going to talk to American voters, period. It’s the same way as saying, you’re going to meet with the tea party. Who is the tea party? There’s hundreds of thousands of people out there.”
Asked again whether he would sit down with representatives of the movement if they requested a meeting, Walker said, “That’s a ridiculous question. I’m going to talk to voters. That’s just a ridiculous question.”
To clarify, when Walker said, “Who knows who that is?” he wasn’t saying he’s unaware of the movement. Rather, the governor is arguing, accurately, that Black Lives Matter has no hierarchical structure. There’s no official, or even semi-official, “leader” of the movement, so it’s not as if a campaign can simply pick up the phone and arrange a meeting with Black Lives Matter’s top representatives.
I don’t even have a problem with the analogy, per se. The Tea Party “movement,” if one wants to call it that, is also loosely organized. Like Occupy and BLM, it has prominent activists associated with a cause, but there’s no formality to the leadership structure. There’s no executive director or chairperson of the board.
But there’s a flaw in Walker’s defense. The Republican candidate thinks it’s “ridiculous” to even ask if he’s prepared to sit down with Black Lives Matter activists, because it’s decentralized like the Tea Party.
If Walker genuinely believed that, however, why has the governor made such an effort to cozy up to the Tea Party?
As the Capital Timesreport added, “The difference is that Walker has spoken at tea party rallies, which would, at the very least, necessitate meeting with the events’ organizers, however briefly.”
Walker has cozied up to Tea Partiers many, many times, hardly dissuaded by the fact that the far-right “movement” lacks any specific, organized leaders.
The problem is the lack of consistency. On the one hand, Walker won’t meet with Black Lives Matter activists because the movement is loosely bound together like the Tea Party. On the other hand, Walker will meet with Tea Party activists, whether they’re hierarchically structured or not.
It seems as if the GOP candidate will need a better excuse.