Dear Scott Walker,
You have initiated many attacks on the people of Wisconsin since you took office. Collective bargaining rights, voting rights, access to health care for the poor, seniors, and children; women’s rights, teachers – the list goes on. In addition, you continue to lie about the state of Wisconsin’s fiscal and employment situation to further your political career – ignoring real and persistent problems that people are struggling with to pursue your ideological crusade. You must have learned from a young age, apparently, that “the ends justifies the means.” So be it. You have chosen your course, and it has led you to defile and defame that most sacred of words for those of us who are lifelong Wisconsinites -
Forward is our word, and you have hijacked it for your campaign of basest propaganda. Today is recall election day. Within twenty-four hours, you may well be the ex-Governor of this state. Even if you should win today, you may be indicted on either Federal or State (or both) criminal charges. Both are fitting ends to your term, whose legacy will be written with three words – “divide and conquer.” The same tactic used by another famous Wisconsin politician, Joseph McCarthy.
Like McCarthy, the power and money that elevated you, has blinded you to the history and legacy you now defile. You have used the word “Forward” countless times during this campaign – and it is sacrilege. Today, regardless of the outcome of this election, we reclaim “Forward.” We have history and truth on our side.
Governor Nelson Dewey, as accounted here, insisted upon the adoption of “Forward as the state motto:
(from “Some Personal Recollection of Governor Dewey”, Victor Kutchin)
“Excelsior” was rejected for having meaning and inference as too privileged and regal. The author, Kutchin, a close friend of Dewey’s, gives further context to the meaning of “Forward” to our state’s founders:
“The ringing groove of change.” Mr. Walker, the very meaning of “Forward” as our motto means progress. Not progress of money and corporations over the people, but the progress of liberty and opportunity for all people (and the founders never considered corporations people) – beyond the bounds of Wisconsin.
It must be known to many readers of this blog, but likely not to you…the history of the majority of our state’s founders. Most of them fled countries in Europe for greater political and economic freedom. Wisconsin had two Constitutional Conventions. The 1846 Wisconsin Constitution was narrowly rejected. The 1846 Constitution would have given women the right to own property, African-Americans and immigrants the right to vote, and would have prohibited privately owned banks. The intent of our state’s founders was a truly progressive state – showing the way “Forward” for the rest of the nation, by expanding rights and liberties beyond existing boundaries.
The 1846 Constitution was rejected; it was done so due to the fact that only white, landowning males could vote, under territorial law. The giant banking interests also owned the major newspapers of the day and launched a statewide campaign against the 1846 constitution – preserving their existence in the new state. Despite this, even the adopted constitution goes further than most other state constitutions to preserve citizens’ rights and liberties. It is easier to grant greater liberty to citizens under the state Constitution than to restrict rights – thus your constitutional issues with the new Voter ID law.
Grant greater liberty, expand the right of access to civil and economic justice, for the greatest number of people - that is “Forward.” Your draconian use of the word goes against the very foundation of this state. The founders of Wisconsin and Robert M. LaFollette have been turning in their graves for the past 18 months. Today, they will again rest, as we begin restoring the true vision of “Forward, Wisconsin.”
Regardless of the outcome today, you have chosen your legacy, in your own words – “divide and conquer.” WE have chosen ours, as it was written early in our state history – “FORWARD.”