Last week the Scott Walker camp finally got around to offering an explanation for the resignation of communications consultant Liz Mair following her so-called controversial comments about Iowa’s presidential primary primacy; the aide his shop had hired just a few days before had tweeted some time ago that Iowa shouldn’t be afforded the top spot in the primary process. This resulted in an uproar and her subsequent departure from the Walker campaign. As Walker put it:
One of my clear rules is, if you’re going to be on our team, whether on the paid staff or a volunteer, what I always say is you need to respect the voters…Because really if you think about campaigns, it’s not about the candidate or the staff. It’s about the voter. It’s about how to help people’s lives be better.
This is, to put it honestly, pure cowardice—a disappointing turn for Walker, who until now was assumed to be the gutsy one in the room. That he would cave to the narrow self-interests of a relatively small group of voters is telling in the worst way.
As it stands, Mair did nothing to abuse the “respect” of voters; her tweets took away nothing whatsoever from Walker’s efforts to “help people’s lives be better.” She simply voiced her opinion that Iowa should not go first in the nominating process—an opinion so anodyne that more than half of Americans feel the same way. Think about that: Walker wants to “help people’s lives be better,” and yet nevertheless he’s upset that one of his aides agreed with a majority of people in the country. Mair’s departure, in other words, wasn’t about making “people’s” lives better, it was more along the lines of making Scott Walker’s life better, and easier.
In a sense, this is unsurprising, for Walker is a politician, and politicians are given to focusing on what John Adams called “the prosperity of parts” rather than “the good of the whole.” Then again, Walker was supposed to be something different; indeed, he was something different not too long ago, when he stood up to the bullies of the Wisconsin public sector then handily trounced their desperate recall effort, becoming the first and only United States governor to politically survive such a process.
He’s still a promising candidate—yet his response to Mair’s garden-variety opinion is disappointing and troubling, indicating that he’s less of a reformer than we thought, and less willing to take risks that might improve the country as a whole. If Walker wants to “help people’s lives be better,” he could start by not kowtowing to the self-serving politics of a small percentage of the American public.