Doug La Follette, In Last Official Act, Let Wisconsin Down

In what was truly a surprising headline, and one that equals with shameful, Wisconsin’s Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette abruptly resigned.  While we all can have empathy for someone who has health issues or family reasons that demand a pullback from elected duties, that does not seem to be the case with La Follette.  While he mentioned his action based on a need to “focus on my personal needs” it was the other parts of his resignation letter that alerts us to what is at play.

“After many years of frustration, I’ve decided that I don’t want to spend the next three and a half years trying to run an office without adequate resources and staffing levels”.

Going into a campaign for his 11th term of office La Follette well knew the state of play having known Republicans delighted in removing power from his office. With the legislature firmly in GOP control, he knew they would not be offering any of it back. Even a fourth grader studying Wisconsin history was aware the secretary of state had not overseen elections since 1974 and had almost no official duties. Surely La Follette was aware of what another 4 years would look like when he offered his services to the state last November in the election.

Candidates have a contract, of sorts, with voters and it is based on trust and integrity.  We hear a person tout reasons they should be elected and what they desire to do with the offices they might hold. Voters ponder the options and cast a ballot with every expectation that a sound choice has been made.  But when an office holder backs out of the responsibility they asked to hold after only three months of a 4-year term even supporters and friends have to say ( this is a family-friendly blog.) 

I am truly disgusted. This is not what good government looks like to me.  This is not what mature leadership resembles. This is not how parents teach their kids to react when the road is uphill, and the clouds gather.  This is not the narrative we want bandied about by those who hold a chip on their shoulder about government and elected officials.

I also find the news from La Follette highly troubling as I truly like the man. That can be seen from May 2012 when I wrote in the midst of the recall election for Governor Scott Walker.

Doug LaFollette walks by our home every day, but it never struck me so deeply how calm and serene he is as a person until Tuesday evening.  I guess had my name been on the ballot my steps would have been more ‘caffeinated’.  Granted LaFollette has waged many races and is accustomed to election nights, but the historic nature of what we are now experiencing would have allowed him the right to walk with wider steps and a far-a-way look.

Yet LaFollette was the same man Tuesday evening that he was last year.  He will be the same next week as he was tonight.   I like that ‘realness’ about people, but do not always find it when it comes to politicians and elected officials.

I admire how LaFollette conducted himself in the recent campaign.  Folksy and genuine.  While all of the Democratic candidates vying for the chance to compete with Scott Walker were complete packages with skills, experiences, and political competency, there is something unique and more solid about LaFollette that stood out.

I just feel sad about the news from today.

2 thoughts on “Doug La Follette, In Last Official Act, Let Wisconsin Down

  1. Solly

    Your post is right on. I held my nose and voted for DLF the last several elections. The bottom line is that Sec. of State and State Treasurer belong on the ash heap of antiquated ideas from 1849 along with the abortion law. Hear that Tony Evers? And to appoint the hack Sarah Godlewski to a do-nothing job is inexcusable. Evers’ budget should have zeroed out the expenses for both offices. I’ve lost a lot of respect for Evers with his dishonest explanation of how important the office is. The only important thing is to keep the Repugnants from giving it control over the elections. And why are we electing Register of Deeds, Clerk of Courts, Coroners and County Treasurers on a county and partisan basis. Let’s clean up the ballot and maybe the 15 minute memory voters can concentrate on the policy-making positions of sheriff, D.A. and county clerks.

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