By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Last weekend, the 45th President let the world know that America’s standing as #1 is in jeopardy. In attending the G20 Summit, Donald Trump and the values of his administration, were supposed to reflect the American people. Frankly, he sent the wrong message, not just to those in attendance, but back here in the state, as well. The trip had high stakes, the Paris Climate Agreement declaration, setting the re-set button with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the much anticipated exchange with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We were all hoping for leadership, but Trump confirmed abroad what we at home have known for some time: under this administration “Make America Great Again” is just a campaign slogan.
Sadly, while the nation struggles with this global realization, Wisconsinites are all too familiar with such disappointment. On the international stage, the conversations centered around such issues as the growing problem that is climate change, Russia’s blatant refusal to acknowledge interference in our 2016 presidential election, trade, and more. Trump’s one apparent “win”: forcing commitments to help the fossil fuel industry. Much like the need to retool and provide new employment options for America’s coal miners, Trump seemed to be stuck in the past and it became clear that the rest of the world is prepared to move on without us. The United States was all but left to go it alone and saw many renaming the group the G19, as Trump’s ill-thought policy ideas were shunned.
Similarly, as Wisconsin sits at a budget impasse, this week we watched Governor Scott Walker’s most recent overtures to move the process forward, be ignored by his Republican colleagues. Whether in stripping more than a billion dollars from public education since his time in office, failing to adequately fund the state’s highways and bridges, or devise a plan to return many of Milwaukee’s unemployed to work, Walker has consistently put forward budget and policy ideas that are outdated, ill-conceived or divisive. As the deadline for a state budget has come and gone, Walker’s Republican colleagues have decided to pull many of his budget proposals and come up with their own.
Elected officials should be judged based on our work and achievements. We have a responsibility to lead with informed policies, collaborate across political and ideological aisles, and always, keep what’s best for our constituents at the forefront of our decisions. Yet, Donald Trump walked away from the Paris Climate Agreement, a commitment to use more renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, to help reverse the effects of global warming. Locally, the Walker administration has worked to remove climate change related information from the state’s Department of Natural Resources website. Like Trump, Walker is basically asking us to just ignore the trillion-ton iceberg that broke off from western Antarctica a few days ago. This is not leadership.
The remaining 19 countries, that comprise the G20, confirmed that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and has moved on without Trump and the United States. Trump, in his ignorance, declared the Summit a “wonderful success”. Governor Walker, in discussing a desire to seek a third term, said “I’m ready to help lead Wisconsin forward for four more years.” Trump and Walker’s statements don’t align with the real message being sent to the world and the state. In fact, it’s just wrong.