Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is not exactly known for his honesty or strength of moral character, but as he prepares to announce his candidacy in the Republican presidential race, it’s time that we reflected on one of the more disturbing episodes of his sordid past and how fast he’s flip-flopped on the abortion issue now that he’s getting closer to announcing.
In 1997, when he was still a state Representative, Walker and 37 other Republican attempted to pass a bill that would have made it legal for doctors to lie to their patients about the health of their child in order to prevent abortions. It is an unfortunate fact of life that pregnancies can turn sour and the fetus can develop serious disabilities or mutations that can be detected in the womb; but it is beyond doubt that it is the mother’s choice to bring the child to term or to abort. Walker’s bill would have made it legal for doctors to lie to their patients about the health of their fetus, violating the Hippocratic oath and every conception of medical ethics that is sacred to the practice of medicine. He tried again in 1999 and in 2001, to no success.
But he has been attempting to tiptoe the line between “blue state governor” and “Republican primary candidate”, and it’s starting to catch up with him now. In 2010, he said in an interview that he opposed abortions even in cases of rape and incest, before his election for governor. He entirely flip-flopped a few years later, in October 2014 when he was fighting for re-election, and made a campaign ad saying that he supported “safe abortions”, and that “the final decision needs to be between a woman, and her doctor.
Fast forward again to today, when he’s announcing at secret donor’s meeting that he wants to sponsor a “personhood” amendment to protect fetuses and that he’s supporting efforts by Wisconsin Republicans to ban all abortions after 20 weeks, based on some very questionable science regarding a fetus’s ability to feel pain. Never mind that all of a sudden unsupported scientific evidence is ironclad when it’s convienent for them, but climate science backed by decades of evidence is still some crazy hoax.
Walker is a greasy manipulator, and will say whatever he needs to to get what he wants. He’s abandoned his previously centrist position on immigration, coming out against immigration reform to Glenn Beck and prompting one of his former aides to tweet that ““Sad to see the full, Olympics-quality flip-flop by a former boss today.” Never mind that he supported the McCain-Kennedy bill in 2006 that would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Reason.com recently reported that he’s even changed his mind about the auto bailouts that followed the Great Recession- he was once arguing that they hurt the recovery in the Midwest but is now dodging questions in Cleveland about whether or not the bailouts were effective.
All of these lies and flip-flops are going to catch up to him someday. It should give America, and hopefully Republican voters too, a reason to question the Koch Brothers’ favorite student. Do we really want a president who tells people what they want to hear and never stands firm on his principles? One who lies about his economic record and his broken job creation promises and is under federal investigation for cheating on his campaign finances? It’s time to make him pay and give up these delusions of grandeur.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.