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Senator Steve Nass Shows What Is Wrong With State Government

January 24, 2016

Without doubt if the average citizen were to be queried about the state of our politics there would be a deep concern voiced over the level of bombast and verbal body slams that takes place in our government.  The responses from the people would clearly state, be it in Wisconsin or in Washington, the rhetoric is too high and the old-fashioned notion of sitting down and talking in a civil way with those we may have divergent points of view with happens too rarely.

So when we read last week about a long and healthy conversation at the UW-Madison between two sides who have different perspectives the first thing many people felt was a sense that maybe a sensible middle ground could be found which will leave rancor behind.

But that is not how State Senator Steve Nass reacted when hearing about the meeting of University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross and the United Council of University Students.  The topic discussed is one that has festered for a long time on state campuses–the way to deal more honestly and effectively with diversity.

No one can claim there are not legitimate matters that students of color have with the powers who administer the UW-System.  It also goes without saying that leaders of our state universities are not content with the playing field as it now exists.    Adjustments are called for and the way to remedy where we are today, and where we want to be, requires a mature dialogue with the other side.

Ray Cross is to be applauded for his time and statements with this matter which makes it clear he is not just pretending to be engaged on the matters of diversity but keen on finding a way forward which leaves the UW schools in a stronger position.

But Nass, or more likely his top aide Mike  Mikalsen who is the mouthpiece for the office, took a totally different perspective.  Their press release in part said Cross, “was wasting time appeasing the political correctness crowd”.

It took less than a page of partisan ‘hackery’ to undermine the intent and desires of both sides who sat down to talk about real issues that real students experience on our state campuses.  For Nass to cheapen the dialogue in such a cavalier way strikes to the heart of what so many citizens know to be wrong with our government.

When people with disagreements talk with one another it means they are not yelling or staging some high profile, but in the end meaningless event, just to gin up press attention.  When in this case the United Council sat down with Cross, and he with them, it proved to each side a level of respect and appreciation for the way reasonable people resolve disputes.    It is that style that more and more average folks on the street wish would happen in the halls of power both in Wisconsin and nationally.

Nass and his staff sent out a blasting press release that was only aimed for a sliver of the GOP base.  That effort comes at the expense of striving to make future conversations on campus more likely.  What Nass did not only sends a wrong message about higher education in this state, it also sends a clear message as to what one of the real problems in state government happens to be.

I know it is not a word but everyone will know what I mean when saying we have too much political ‘hackery’.  Steve Nass–and his office–seem to be the current experts at it.

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