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November 25, 2013 5:53 PM A Second Interesting Argument From Scott Walker

By Ed Kilgore

Yesterday I wrote about Scott Walker’s strange Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that rigorous ideological conservatism offered the best way for Republicans to reach out to Obama voters. Turns out Walker again said something unexpected late last week in a media briefing, as reported by Ezra Klein:

Walker did something amazing at this breakfast. He did something I’ve never seen a presidential aspirant do. When asked about the gridlock and polarization in Washington, he refused to say he could bring the two parties together. Instead, he made the case for unified government. “For years, the conventional wisdom was that Americans want divided government,” he said. “I think they’ve seen in the last few years that that’s not necessarily a good thing. Instead of checks and balances you get a lot of gridlock.”

Couldn’t agree more. Walker allows as how he’s practiced what he’s preaching in Wisconsin, which certainly accords with everything we’ve seen there:

Nor did Walker try to spin his record in Wisconsin as a model of coming together to get things done. “What we learned in Wisconsin and what many of the other battleground states, particularly in the Midwest, learned during the 2010 election, was that if you want to get big, bold reform done in your state you need a team to help you do that. So in our case everything switched from Democratic control to Republican control in 2010 and that empowered us to go out and make reforms that would’ve been much more difficult without those changes.”

This, too, is pretty obvious. But as Ezra says, it’s not what a lot of voters necessarily want to hear:

All this leaves Walker attempting something very unusual: Running as the candidate of polarization. His pitch isn’t that he can bring the two sides together but that he can persuade the public to kick the other side out of office. “Voters think people in Washington fight for the sake of fighting,” he said. “Voters don’t mind fighters, but they want them to be fighting for them.” Walker’s new book, “Unintimidated,” is meant to show the lengths he will go to to fight for voters.

Walker doesn’t even bother to feign deep concern about the nuclear option and its impact on deal-making.

Now expressing disdain for compromise is hardly anything new for Republican presidential candidates appealing to conservative activists and “the base.” But most of them master a lot of double-talk in order preserving the pieties of bipartisanship for the sake of general-election audiences and the MSM. I’m beginning to think Walker might be interested to watch going into 2016, even if he’s fundamentally just another hammer-headed right-winger doing his all to revoke the second half of the twentieth century.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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