The outpouring of messages I’ve received via email, blog comments, phone calls, published columns, and direct communications from friends over the past week has been nothing less than overwhelming, and I honestly haven’t even begun to keep up with the flood that has poured through my computer and my life. I’m not sure when I’ll ever be able to do so.
But among all the communications I’ve received in the past few days, few have touched me as much as the letter below, sent directly to Governor Scott Walker and Stephan Thompson (the Deputy Executive Director of the Republican Party who submitted the open records request for my emails). It was written by a longstanding Republican voter in Wisconsin who is a strong supporter of the governor’s fiscal policies. The author (whom I’ve never met and don’t know at all) shared it with me because he wanted me to see what he had written, and I was so moved by his eloquent words that I asked permission to reprint them in this blog. He asked only that I omit his name and contact information for personal reasons that I respect, so I’ve agreed to do so and hope readers will take my word that he did not try to hide his identity from me (unlike many of the most negative commentators on this blog). I have no reason to doubt the truth of anything he says.
What I so admire about this letter is the author’s willingness to criticize leaders whose policies he supports but whose particular actions — at least regarding the open records request for my emails — he finds objectionable. I admire the honor and integrity with which he declares his position, especially since I believe it is just these qualities — honor and integrity and fair-mindedness, even when dealing with people with whom one disagrees — that are so needed in our political life as a state and nation right now.
I’m grateful to all who have written constructive comments on this blog, and all who have offered words of moral support no matter what their views on particular positions I have articulated here. Thank you.
Hello Governor Walker and Mr. Thompson,
I am a registered Republican and enthusiastically support the recent efforts to move the state towards fiscal responsibility.
I happen to be a state employee; in spite of the large personal cost this will mean in our family income, we recognize the value and necessity of adjusting public sector benefits to match similar compensation available to private sector employees.
I am also an Army veteran who volunteered to serve both here and overseas in defense of our most basic freedoms, including the freedoms of thought and speech.
I am very disappointed by the recent and transparent efforts by the Wisconsin GOP to intimidate Professor Cronon. Inquiry into political activities and discourse about such activities is a legitimate academic pursuit. Even public employees have the right to voice private opinions, this is one of the most basic American rights. If there is nothing for the party to hide, there’s no cause for concern about a historian investigating and describing funding sources for reasons of posterity. The suggestions of wrong-doing inherent in your request so close on the heels of his blog posting is beneath the standards of the Wisconsin GOP. Casting aspersions on one of the most respected professors at one of the nation’s most respected universities makes you look petty and ridiculous.
Excusing this behavior by suggesting that the “left” does so more aggressively than the “right” is justifying wrong-doing by others’ wrong-doing…is that really the course you want to chart for Republicans in Wisconsin? In response to his publicizing of this request, your press release also stated: Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner. Well, members of the GOP have the right to accountability and ethical behavior by the leaders of the party as well, and I expect you would lead this effort to change the way Wisconsin works in an ethical and civil manner yourselves.
This is not the way in which MY party behaves. Please adjust course before you lose your base.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
A Wisconsin Republican