Reading Irene Hartmann’s grad letter to the editor regarding our upcoming event with former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Monday, Nov. 4, we could not help but think about how Hartmann may have benefited from attending our first event of the semester with David French, then of National Review, now with The Dispatch. French spent much of his time here warning us against embracing the politics of war, enmity and assumption. It is clear that this prudent advice has not been heeded.
One need only make use of the link Hartmann provided in her letter to dismiss the careless charges of defending pedophiles she leveled against Gov. Walker. Bureaucrats in Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services granted licenses to the defrocked priests and Gov. Walker made no effort to assist them, as Hartmann recklessly asserts. To the contrary, once he was made aware of the situation, Gov. Walker took action to see it remedied, as the article Hartmann linked to states.
Hartmann was far from finished. Before her letter had concluded, she had accused Gov. Walker of being motivated only by donations made to his campaign and of having a special desire to attack civil servants. She even went so far as to accuse our organization of being eager to aid those accused of sexual misconduct. These smears on a public figure — and worse yet, her fellow Cornellians — reflect the exact brand of politics that French counseled this campus to resist: one of war, enmity and assumption.
In response to Walker’s supposed patronage to special interests, Hartmann cites an article asserting that $750,000 donated to Walker’s recall election campaign by lead manufacturers resulted in legislative patronage. In the 2012 recall election that resulted from a coordinated effort by state and national labor unions, these same unions pumped upwards of $5.3 million into ousting Gov. Walker. That doesn’t even include the $3 million the National Education Association dumped from their war chest to campaign against Walker. Compare the $8.3 million raised by the opposition to the $750,000 donated to Walker. Here we can see that Gov. Walker’s pledge to “stand up and take on the powerful special interests” rings true. Progressives seem keen to rant against money in politics when it serves them, but often ignore how frequently special interests benefit their own campaigns.
If the well-funded, unsuccessful 2012 effort does not satisfy Hartmann, she should take the example of Wisconsin’s sitting governor, Tony Evers. In Evers’s 2019 budget, his administration brought back compulsory union dues, artificial wage floors for public projects and a return to closed-shop policies that have historically served as money-making mechanisms for labor unions. In total, $8.6 million ($1.6 million directly to Evers’s campaign and $7 million by the Greater Wisconsin Committee) was spent by unions to promote Evers’s 2018 campaign. The rewards they reaped from his $83.5 billion budget were well worth the cost. Walker warned Wisconsin voters that Evers was “bought and paid for” by unions and now they’re footing the bill.
Reasonable minds can disagree in assessing Gov. Walker’s tenure in Wisconsin, though we would contend that his successful revival of the state’s economy and responsible reforms to return it to a solid fiscal footing rendered him among the nation’s best and boldest executives. Reasonable minds cannot and should not take the easy road in assuming that their political opponents are motivated by the most monstrous of intentions. Reasonable minds cannot and should not lob damaging and unfounded accusations at their peers. We do not know what assumptions or prior teachings led Hartmann to publish her letter, but we do believe she would benefit from attending the Walker event to observe an alternative perspective on these issues from the governor himself.
We also know this: Despite the myriad of inaccuracies and mischaracterizations, she did get one thing right. Our invitation of Gov. Scott Walker to campus is reflective of who we are. We are an organization that values well-reasoned discourse and that promotes the free market and fiscal responsibility. We are an organization that relishes the opportunity to engage in a good-faith debate. And perhaps most importantly, we are an organization which is, now and always, unflinchingly and unapologetically conservative.
Isaac Schorr ’20, president
Weston Barker ’21, executive vice president
Elise Viz ’22, vice president of external operations
Thérèse Russell ’20, vice president of internal operations
Bill Leiker ’22, treasurer
Anna Girod ’20, secretary
Avery Bower ’23, freshman representative
Sadman Chowdhury ’23, freshman representative