Aside from his participation in the most recent Republican debate, one of Scott Walker’s biggest claims to recent fame are his thoughts on the status of the American labor force. Indeed, his curious plans for American labor reform, including his most important goal to eliminate the National Labor Relations Board, are a large part of what has kept him in the national spotlight.
Considering his recent and very abrupt withdrawal from the Republican Presidential race, emerging Monday of this week, it is either now or never that we discuss Scott Walker in this week’s “Meet the (Former) Candidate.”
Scott Walker announced his candidacy in the 2016 Presidential Race on January 13th, saying via Twitter, “I’m running for President of the United States to fight and win for the American people.”
This announcement came in the midst of a fairly successful political career, and also came out during his current status as the 45thGovernor of Wisconsin, a position that he has held since 2011.
If the early years of Scott Walker’s political career are not evident enough of his political expertise, they are certainly indicative of his persistence as a candidate. In fact, his office as the 45th current Governor of Wisconsin follows an unsuccessful campaign for the same position in 2006.
Walker’s status as Governor became even more of a testament to his persistence, however, in 2011, when an official effort to recall Walker from that office emerged on November 15th. Those efforts had to do with the introduction of the Walker-backed 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, a controversial measure proposed by Walker to account for a projected budget deficit by gutting private labor unions and worker entitlements.
Walker’s survival of the resulting 2012 recall election was a particularly powerful indicator of his seriousness as a presidential candidate. Before his withdrawal, Walker ran largely on a platform that would have brought some of those same devices for the reform of American labor to the national level. This would have meant, among other things, the elimination of the NLRB, the dissolving of Federal Labor Unions, and the extension of Right to Work laws as the default position in all states. These measures, as Walker claims, could save the United States government a significant amount of revenue, as they did in Wisconsin, without raising taxes for average workers.
Walker claimed the result of these changes for the American Workforce would not be limited to the reduction of tax-expenses. Rather, it would also provide for the liberation of the common American worker from manipulation by Federal Unions, and would put the power and control of the workforce back into the hands of the workers themselves.
“Our plan will eliminate the big government unions entirely and put the American people back in charge of their government,” Walker remarked. “Federal employees should work for the taxpayers — not the other way around.”
Though Walker had proved himself to be a capable and serious candidate, and had garnered significant donor support, it is not terribly difficult to guess why he has recently withdrawn from the race. Walker commanded only 3.3% among Republican voters in the polls, which put him in 7thplace in the race, behind Huckabee (at about 3.8%) and Marco Rubio (at about 4.6%). Criticisms of what is undoubtedly Walker’s most unique platform issue ranged from questions as to the possibility of unilateral labor reform and, more importantly, as to whether or not such reform would actually help the average worker.
“What he’s proposing is so massively complicated and convoluted, I don’t treat a five-page document very seriously as a policy document,” John Ahlquist, a Political Science professor at the University of California in San Diego, remarked.
Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, a professor of Labor and Employment Law at Indiana University, took a different approach to the question of Walker’s reform intentions by suggesting that they do not quite represent one of the more serious issues in the U.S. at all. “It’s clear to me he hasn’t thought through what this all means,” Dau-Schmidt remarked. “People looking to vote in Re-publican primaries are much more worried about immigration than they are about killing off the few unions that remain.”
Though his goals for labor reform seemed to be what has earned Walker most of his attention, it is certainly not the only thing he based his presidential platform upon. As for immigration reform, Walker states that needed reform should start with securing the border, reinforcing current immigration laws, and eliminating Obama’s efforts to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the country. Walker also suggested considerable reforms to welfare and the social safety net in general, which would include a work or job training requirement for welfare recipients, as well as a drug use assessment.
Additionally, Walker intended to pursue extensive reforms of Social Security and Medicaid. Running upon a platform of conservative values, Walker was also highly outspoken against abortion, and promised, as he did in Wisconsin, to push for considerable limitations on both abortion and Planned Parenthood.
Although Walker has officially withdrawn from the race, and for fairly understandable reasons, his campaign has brought unique questions to the table. His sudden withdrawal from the race, furthermore, leaves a good amount of donors and supporters without a candidate, which will likely result in a “feeding frenzy” among the remaining Republican candidates in the coming weeks.
-Austin Wash ’16, Senior Politics/Opinions Editor