In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) frequently talks about people “working together” to solve problems. As it turns out, it’s a two-word phrase he may want to revise – “working together” and “divide and conquer” are not complementary.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the context of the newly-released video, recorded by a filmmaker who has supported Wisconsin Democrats.
A filmmaker released a video Thursday that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use “divide and conquer” as a strategy against unions. Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor’s campaign. […]
In the video shot on Jan. 18, 2011 – shortly before Walker’s controversial budget-repair bill was introduced and spawned mass protests – Hendricks asked the governor whether he could make Wisconsin a “completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work.” The Republican donor was referring to right-to-work laws, which prohibit private-sector unions from compelling workers to pay union dues if the workers choose not to belong to the union.
Walker replied that his “first step” would be “to divide and conquer” through his budget-adjustment bill, which curtailed most collective bargaining for public employee unions.
There are a couple of angles to this. The first, of course, is substantive – Walker said at the time of his union-busting efforts that he wasn’t trying to be punitive or ideological, but rather, his measures were intended to be fiscally responsible. The comments on the video suggest otherwise, making his efforts appear that much more ideological.
The second, however, is more cultural – the Republican governor has brought a toxicity to state politics that many in Wisconsin haven’t seen in a long while, and aren’t altogether comfortable with. The fact that Walker was recorded touting a “divide and conquer” approach – effectively pitting people against each other to advance a larger, anti-worker agenda – reinforces broader concerns about his entire style of politics.