Note To Wisconsin Legislators: Get Over Yourselves And Eat A Brat With Scott Walker
I am, regardless of what it might appear at times on this blog, always in favor of bipartisanship when it comes to shaping public policy. I truly yearn for the days when a broad middle swath of a governing body was able to come together and address the needs of Wisconsin, and the nation.
Lately, and for many reasons, that has been less and less the case. More and more dysfunctional politics dominates these days in this state, and around the nation. As a result the public suffers.
While it is true that the past 17 months in Wisconsin has been a bumpy and historic ride, there is also the fact made known to the most partisan souls that Scott Walker scored a solid victory last week at the voting booths. How Walker views that win, and what he does with it is the test he needs to meet. The public will be watching.
To help smooth the political waters, and give a nice landing to the recent upheaval that has plagued this state, a brat and beer summit is scheduled at the Governor’s Mansion this week. There is something very midwestern about the idea of eating one of Wisconsin’s best products along the shores of Lake Mendota with your political opponents.
Most legislators will be in attendance, as everyone knows the routine at a time like this, and what is expected from being an elected official.
But there are some legislators–on both sides of the aisle–who are so fixed on their own self-absorbed personalities they can not find their way to attend the brat cookout. I find this sad.
State Rep. Steve Nass, one of Walker’s fellow Republicans from Whitewater, said he would not show up at Tuesday’s event at the governor’s mansion because he didn’t like recent comments from two prominent Democrats.
State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) said in a tweet he won’t be attending either.
“I’m passing on ‘Brat Summit’ photo op. We need cooperation & compromise from Gov., not brats & beer,” tweeted Pocan, who is running for Congress.
Let me say, using cooking-out vernacular, what a pair of weenies!
I recall the times, as described by former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, when President Reagan would have him over to the White House for a drink and some Irish story telling. People might think that has nothing to do with crafting policy, or moving the nation forward.
Those people would be wrong.
Too often in our political culture it is common to cut down our opponents, and tar and feather them verbally. But it is harder to demonize the other side if you find commonalities, or allow for smiles and laughs while having a beer and brat.
No one is pretending that a swaying version of “Kumbaya” will unfold at the mansion with legislators holding each other’s hand, or that Walker will not attempt to pass, come next January, more draconian policies on state workers. Tip O’Neill had no confirmation that Reagan would not pull out some wild-eyed policy, either.
But we do not sit down with our political opponents to map out the future.
We sit down with them for a brat and beer knowing there will be tough days ahead where big policy goals will be up for debate. It is at times when tempers start to flare with the other side that it might be important to recall that someone at a brat fest pulled a picture of his grand-kid from a wallet, or to remember the laugh when onions covered with mustard stained a tie, or reflect on a fishing story while standing on the Mendota shoreline. Those memories might make an impact with the one that is facing you across the committee table.
That is why finding commonalities with our political opponents matter.
That is why Nass and Pocan would be better men–and better representatives–if they found it within themselves to attend the brat event.
Will everything be better due to a brat and beer at the Governor’s Mansion?
But then it can not hardly get any worse, either.