Many readers of this little site on the internet highway (a term that now sounds old-fashioned and dated) will recall when the Republican Party continually lectured about personal responsibility (a talking point that now also sounds old-fashioned and dated). If we are silent for just a few seconds, we can almost hear President Reagan talk about how leaving people alone so as to rise with their own abilities was the path the nation needed to take. America just needed to unleash the notion of personal responsibility.
The words and tone from Reagan came to mind as I read the news report about Wisconsin State Assemblyman Rob Brooks and the bar he owns in Saukville.
Police in Wisconsin say the fentanyl-laced drugs that killed one person and caused three more to overdose in a village north of Milwaukee were bought at a state lawmaker’s tavern that has been the subject of multiple calls to police in recent years.
Republican Rep. Rob Brooks has owned the Railroad Station in Saukville since 2007 and said he was aware of issues with drugs at the bar shortly after purchasing it but thought they had been addressed.
Brooks has not reached out to the family or responded to their calls and did not publicly comment on the recent death or answer questions about the bar until Thursday.
“It ticks me off. It seems like he doesn’t care, like he doesn’t care about the community,” Joe Hamilton said on Wednesday.
When asked about other incidents police have responded to at the Railroad Station, Brooks said, “We’re a bar, and there is alcohol served.”
I was taken aback by Brooks’ cavalier tone about the problems at the bar that he has owned and operated for 16 years. The level of irresponsibility and unaccountability runs counter to the rhetoric that comes from his party about how there need to be fewer regulations and rules for businesses to follow. Equally troubling are the GOP talking points on the one hand about why law and order must be maintained and respected when facts clearly demonstrate on the other hand there is an obvious problem with criminal activity taking place inside the bar. When police are overburdened with too many social ills which they need to contend with, it is concerning that they need to be called repeatedly to an establishment run by a state representative.
“We’re a bar, and there is alcohol served.”
Brook’s words really struck me as a cop-out (pardon the bad pun) as it totally undercuts the GOP push about personal responsibility. What he said was there can be no personal responsibility. How can he be held responsible, after all, there was alcohol being served? That sounds like examples used by Reagan and his fellow pols when talking about why there was always a reason given by people for something bad happening. Socio-economic reasons were responsible for inner city crime, or a lack of birth control was the reason for teenage pregnancies. How can Brooks be responsible, after all, alcohol was being served?
Political rhetoric is cheap. What matters, of course, is the behavior of any politician both in terms of keeping campaign promises and living in accordance with the values the majority of one’s constituents believe are essential to have if holding office.