Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker recently wrote a compelling book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge. This book, co-written with Marc Thiessen, is not an autobiography but is a gripping account of his early years as Governor. It delves into his recollection of the high profile fights over pension reform and bringing spending under control.
Whatever are one’s politics, readers should be outraged the way the Governor and his supporters were treated from the nasty rhetoric to the mob scene mentality. The Governor and his family were repeatedly threatened, legislators who supported him had their house vandalized, Walker was repeatedly called a Nazi, and his supporters were compared to terrorists. In the book, the Governor quoted President Obama’s speech after Congresswomen Gabby Giffords was shot, “it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” Walker then goes on to say, “Those words apparently fell on deaf ears in Madison.”
The book focuses on his decision to reform the state’s employee’s pensions and take on the way the Union forced membership. He explains how he could have either raised taxes, laid off thousands of public workers, cut Medicaid or school budgets, or reform collective bargaining. He chose the latter, explaining, “Rather than a right, collective bargaining has turned out to be an expensive entitlement. It denies hardworking taxpayers their ‘right’ to the efficient delivery of public services.”
He told blackfive.net, that it was insane that a Wisconsin bus driver was “Madison’s highest paid city government employee last year. In addition, before I became Governor, a teacher was laid off even though she was chosen as the outstanding teacher of the year. She was fired because she was the last hired so the first fired under the then collective bargaining system.”
Because he was able to communicate this to the residents of Wisconsin, and show how the reforms implemented would change things for the better, he overwhelmingly won a recall election. He received more votes for his second Gubernatorial election than the first. He noted to blackfive.net, “We won by explaining to the people in real relative terms why we were on their side. The winning combination for a Republican is to mix logic with the emotion of the heart.”
In the latter part of the book, Walker explains his model of leadership. All politicians, regardless of political party, should take note that he kept his campaign promises by making bold and necessary decisions. He came into office with a fiscal crisis and actually fixed it. Prior to his election, Wisconsin faced a $3.6 billion dollar budget deficit, an unemployment rate of 7.8%, and a 27% increase in property taxes. Under his leadership Wisconsin now enjoys a $342 million budget surplus, a decline in property taxes, and an unemployment rate of 6.7%. He commented directly, “A good leader has to fix things but also communicate to the people they represent what they are doing and why they are doing it.”
Regardless of one’s ideology, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, is a must read. Governor Walker should be recognized for being a leader of principle, action, and resolve. He was able to offer those in his state big, bold, and positive solutions through the reforms implemented. As he said in the book’s dedication to his sons, “I want them to live in an America as great as the one I grew up in,” and noted “What we need to do is to think more about the next generation than we do about the next election.”