Boots & Sabers

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0603, 14 Apr 20

Our failed governor

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I would add to the below the cruel order from yesterday that we can’t visit out loved ones in a nursing home even if we are just standing outside looking through a window. Every day, we wake up to learn what edict has been issued from the pen of the tyrant in Madison. Go get a copy!

It is impossible to understate how incompetent our governor has been in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Evers is lurching from idiotic policy to unconstitutional power grab. Meanwhile, the people of Wisconsin are losing their liberties and their livelihoods.

As the coronavirus spread across the nation, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 and seized dictatorial powers. This is something that the Legislature has empowered the governor to do in the event of an emergency so that the state government can be nimble and responsive to help the people. Evers has used the power to crush the state’s economy, strip people of their rights, and clumsily swing the heavy hammer of government.

For a few days after the declaration, Evers used his powers to organize a response and marshal resources. When asked on March 20 whether Wisconsin would order people to stay home like other states, Evers said that he did not think it would be necessary. Three days later, Evers announced on Twitter that an order was coming, after all, to lock down the state. To this day, Evers has not been able to coherently articulate what changed in those three days to justify the lockdown order.

The rollout of the order was absurd. Evers said a lockdown order was coming, but did not disclose any details. After a day of confusion and speculation, he released the draconian lockdown order on March 24 with a short grace period for implementation. The order itself is vague is many areas, leaving Evers to issue clarification after clarification ever since.

Many provisions in the order do not even make sense and are utterly unreasonable. For example, golf courses were closed, but parks were open. Both involve small groups walking around outside. Then Evers closed the state parks “indefinitely” too because he thought that too many people were actually using them.

Last week we actually had to have the governor tell us how we are allowed to worship for Easter. For the record, we could worship inside the church as long as there were less than 10 people in the room. Or we could worship in our cars, but not outside if we were out of our cars. Sit back and reflect for a moment on how un-American it is that we must follow worship instructions from the governor or risk fines and arrest.

Then the governor tried to usurp an election. We knew for weeks that holding an election during a pandemic posed unusual risks. Up until the Thursday before the election, Evers and the Republican leadership agreed that the election should continue as planned, but with sensible precautions. On Friday before the election, Evers called a special session of the Legislature to delay the election for two months. Evers said that he did not have the power to do it himself and that the Legislature must act.

Being so close to the election and not wanting to sow confusion, the Legislature declined to move the election on Saturday. On Monday, the day before the election, Evers issued an order to move the election. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled him within hours. It turned out that Evers was right after all. He did not have the power. Consider how un-American it would be to allow a single man to arbitrarily decide when, or if, the people are allowed to elect their leaders.

Through it all, Evers’ ham handed incompetence of the issue created confusion, disrupted the election, and undermined the process by which we govern ourselves. As we learn the results of that election this week, there will always be doubt about whether or not the result is actually the will of the people. Self-governance does not work when people lose faith in the process by which we select our government.

Now the state is facing the highest unemployment rate in history, businesses are shuttering for good, and people are being hassled by law enforcement for daring to leave their homes, Governor Evers cannot even tell us if it is working, or when it might end. Governor Evers has not given any indication of when, or how, Wisconsin will get back to work. There is no plan. We find ourselves waiting like subjects for our king to tell us when we can work, play, or enjoy our freedoms.

Governor Evers has shown why we should never allow one man to have such power. Whether through incompetence or malice, he has engaged in unprecedented oppression and laid waste to the state’s economy. The Legislature must step in, rein in the governor’s mad romp, and provide the people of Wisconsin a reasonable plan to combat coronavirus. That plan should be rooted in preserving our liberties and way of life as our government provides guidance and resources to combat the disease.

It is clear that Governor Evers does not have a coherent plan. He staggers from reaction to revulsion seemingly without clarity of purpose. As the people’s body, the Legislature must step up and act where our governor has failed.

Finally, the Legislature must provide a plan for how the state will restart our economy very soon. Coronavirus is here to stay, but we must go on. Life will be a little different as we mitigate the spread, but we must go on. People will continue to get ill and some will die, but we must go on. We have dealt with dangerous diseases before. We must go on.


0603, 14 April 2020


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    Top notch.

    Well written.

  2. Tuerqas

    On the one hand, I do agree with Owen on this post.  On the other hand, I do wonder exactly how former Gov Scott Walker would have handled it and what the post would have said if he were still Governor.

    1) I would guess that he too would have claimed emergency powers, but your post would have supported it and emphasized that it was necessary and temporary, with likely a small admonishment of the slippery slope against personal freedoms.  Very similar outcomes, except with the ideological difference that a Democrat will try to keep withholding freedoms while a Republican would not(the truly slippery slope).

    2) I think he would not have been giving all the contradictory information or decisions, he would have been smoother and more professional.  I also think he would have kept as much as possible under the table, and we would only be able to go on the few official updates to come out.  He would say he had a plan yet be unveiled and Reps would 100% believe that and Dems would 100% be the ones proclaiming him sloppy and with no plan.

    3) I think he would have shut down the State no later than Evers did, maybe earlier, and this post would have supported the decision.

    4) I think he would have moved to delay the election immediately.  Republicans do tend to be older (who likely feel they have more to lose from more Government) and less likely to take to any new way of voting, like absentee balloting.  While the younger people, more apt to vote in a new way (and more often feel they have more to gain from more Government) are predominantly Democratic.  This dynamic favors a liberal crowd and I believe Walker would have moved to balance that scale by waiting until people felt safer going out to vote in public again.  Personally, I can’t believe that the State legislature wanted to move ahead with the election.

    5) I think Walker would have ‘told us how to worship’ too, but this post would have taken a different tack:  That this was not telling us how we could worship, merely a limited-time safe manner in which to worship.  Content was not altered so this was not a blow against religion, it was a safety regulation for the pandemic. The same as Evers, just a different spin.

    Spin is the political word of the 21st century so far.  Personally, I pray it does not continue to be the center of our politics too much longer.  I don’t think Trump and Ever’s have handled things all that differently from one another, both have been on all sides of the CV19 related issues.  Easy fodder for attack and difficult to defend.  Who you attack merely depends upon which side you are on.


  3. jjf

    Reasonable reasoning, T.  As for (4), I’d say today’s WisGOP were betting that the pandemic and its consequences were going to reduce Dem votes more than it would reduce GOP votes, so they wanted to ride it out as-is.

  4. Tuerqas

    I agree with you jjf, I just can’t believe they thought that.  I wonder what reasoning brought them to that conclusion.  I am guessing that they were thinking that youthful voters are lazier, as they have historically been, but absentee balloting is easier than driving somewhere and a bunch of people seemed to have figured that out, being forced to do everything from home.  I would love to see the absentee ballots broken down by age…


  5. Mark Hoefert

    Oops, never mind.

    Been rescinded by Governor Evers.

    A spokesperson for Gov. Tony Evers, Britt Cudaback told NBC15 the plan did not reflect the Administration’s position on the issue. Cudaback noted that no agency can issue guidelines that conflict with the “Safer at Home” order, therefore it was not valid.
    The board has since issued revised guidance removing the clause about “window visits.”

  6. dad29

    WisGOP were betting that the pandemic and its consequences were going to reduce Dem votes more than it would reduce GOP votes,

    If that were true, the Mayors of the 1st- and 3rd-largest cities in Wisconsin would NOT have choked off in-person voting to the largest extent possible.

    You need a better theory.

  7. jjf

    You think they had options?  You think they liked what happened because it would help them?

  8. Mar

    Yes and yes.
    And Evers has promised another month of lockdowns.
    Meanwhile, other governors are starting to talk about opening up their state again, but Evers.
    He aims to create as much hurt as pissible and hope it sticks on Trump.
    Just like you.

  9. jjf

    Mar, everyone, from Trump on down, who is following a process of suppression, has promised more lockdown now, followed by lifting, probably followed by more lockdowns, region by region.  Unless and until it fades way, or a vaccine is developed, or other treatment plans emerge.

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