The perfect storm of 2017

There is no question progressive values in Wisconsin will be under major assault in 2017. Donald Trump’s unexpected victory came with coattails that helped strengthen the far right’s grip on state government.

Starting at noon on Jan. 20, Wisconsin Republicans, led by Gov. Scott Walker, will be emboldened to set aside fears they might have to pay a price for their destructive policies and reckless behavior.

Having Trump at the nation’s helm provides them with unlimited cover. Like Trump — the first presidential candidate in decades to refuse to disclose his tax returns — Walker believes that secrecy is essential for elected officials to do their jobs effectively. Walker and his Wisconsin GOP colleagues have made numerous efforts over the past six years to shield their offices from transparency and accountability. They’ve outraged voters with their efforts to eliminate Sunshine laws, agencies responsible for investigating political corruption, and accountability commissions.

If his campaign tactics are a preview, Trump is likely to try curtailing many of the press freedoms essential to a democracy — and Walker is bound to be glowing like a Christmas tree bulb at the prospect. The Trump campaign so effectively demonized and marginalized fact-based mainstream media that Walker and his GOP cronies can count on less sunshine than ever lighting their machinations.

Trump is demonstrating — daily — how much public officials can get away with. And it’s not just the secrecy and contempt for the truth, but also the assurance that Washington will free states from “burdensome” rules over the environment, public schools, unions and corporate liability and taxation. Such regulations — from a minimum wage to the right to vote — have been a thorn Walker’s side. Their elimination will give him and the state’s GOP leaders the power to make their wildest dreams of a corporate-driven Wisconsin come true.

For instance, a leaked memo listing the priorities of Trump’s energy agenda must make Walker and his fossil fuel handlers feel as if they’ve died and gone to Koch heaven.

Among other things, Trump wants to:
• Repeal rules protecting air and water from pollution.
• Expedite the approval of pipeline projects, such as the
Keystone XL and Dakota Access.
• Increase the amount of federal land and waters that
can be exploited for coal, oil and gas.

Without President Barack Obama and his administration acting as a buffer, Wisconsin Republicans might have achieved those goals here.

But the GOP attack on the state’s environment has already begun.

It’s still weeks before Trump takes office, and Republicans in control of Wisconsin’s Legislature have renewed their push to split up the department they despise the most: the Department of Natural Resources. They had begun the gutting of the DNR by reducing both its funding and authority. The next steps in the GOP plan would scatter oversight of parks, forestry, environmental and hunting and fishing programs among three existing agencies and two new ones.

Walker and his cronies have attempted to eradicate the DNR in the past, but they’ve never had the power they now enjoy on both the state and national levels.

The combination of a Trump presidency and GOP control over every facet of state government — including the judiciary — form a perfect storm that threatens to make 2017 one of the worst years ever for Wisconsin progressives and moderates.

Donate, volunteer, do something, do whatever you can, to fight the destructive agenda that lies before us.