By Joe Vittie
On Thursday, Scott Walker’s Department of Administration (DOA) released new rules for Wisconsin citizens who dare to use the State Capitol.
These rules, which cover everything from weddings to protests, appear to be written by a politician with the same amount of respect for human rights as the man who burned the Reichstag prior to his ascendency to the position of Der Fuhrer.
The portion of the new DOA rulebook which offers the most insight into our first year Governor, is the paragraph that gives the government the ability to injure or kill you, without allowing you any legal redress. You think I’m engaging in hyperbole? It’s in there. Please read it for yourself – page 6, Section II, part F.
After reading the entire 23 page opus the night of its release, I went to bed with visions of storm troopers dancing in my head. Unfortunately those jack booted members of the SS morphed into twisted images of State Patrol officers pepper spraying grandmothers, and Capitol Police shooting rubber bullets into Iraqi War veterans during peaceful Rotunda protests.
But somehow I awoke on Friday with high expectations for Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All, as I prepared to make my way to the Capitol to enjoy the annual lighting of the Very Large Conifer, or as some prefer to call it, a Christmas tree.
However, my entrance to the temple of democracy, in the city named for the father of the US Constitution, immediately evoked my seventh grade Social Studies class, when Mr. Wojek showed us Leni Riefenstahl’s epic 1935 documentary “The Triumph of the Will”, an infamous cinematic glorification of Hitler’s 1934 Nazi party rallies at Nuremberg.
Walker’s re-creation of those rallies today was not on the same scale as his mentor, yet the important propaganda elements were there. Josef Goebbels, German Reich Minister of Propoganda, would have been proud.
Power, in the form of active and veteran military service men and women, along with their protégés, military prep school cadets, who provided both martial and religious music, surrounded Walker’s flanks. The ever present Capitol Police, staffed at levels appropriate for a 100,000 person rally, protected his rear.
Unity of purpose was referenced in his speech. Walker appropriated the history of Wisconsin military members, from the Civil War (the one in the 1860’s – not the one he started in February when he dropped the bomb) until the present, to demonstrate how the might, with which he was now surrounded, had consistently made the necessary sacrifices in the service of our nation and state.
And Walker employed religion as an element of his political rally. Diversity of faith, or no faith, was eschewed for his evangelical vision of the Wisconsin millennium, which resonates for our leader as “Onward Christian Soldiers”.
The more realistic, compassionate, and seasonally appropriate “The Little Drummer Boy,” who had no gift to bring, because his parent’s unemployment had lapsed, and was now homeless, but who Wisconsinites would help get back on his feet, because that’s the kind of caring people we are, was nowhere in evidence in Walker’s militarily fetishized Wisconsin.
But a true triumph started to take place. This triumph was not Walker’s hollow, and ultimately destructive “Triumph of the Will” – no this victory was that of free will – an individual asserting democratic rights that were bestowed to her upon her birth in this country. So, as Walker put the coda on his Nuremberg via Madison rally – by trying to appropriate distinction from a heroic World War II veteran – a young woman, a girl really, (she is only 11) decided on her own, unknown to her father, and without the permission of the DOA, to deliver a message to the Governor:
A message of democracy, a message of hope, a message which might enable her cherished state to live up to ideals of the Christian season which Scott Walker militantly ignored.
This rosy cheeked girl, in a Badger red sweatshirt, honey-colored hair peeking out from the hat her grandmother had knit for her, walked past the phalanx of Glock-toting Capitol Police, past active military from all four branches, past the assembled testosterone of the all-male military academy, and patiently waited for the Governor to suspend his performance.
When Scott Walker finally turned to her, she politely exercised her first amendment right to free speech and handed him a sheet of paper with the simple democratic message:
With that simple act, this patriotic Wisconsin girl showed more courage, more faith in democracy, and more charity than Scott Walker has shown in his 11 months as Governor.
Merry Christmas Emma!
Goodbye Governor Walker! Next Christmas you can join the ceremony as a private citizen!
Christmas program cover
See if you can find democracy