A known literalist, I looked for the literal answer to this question first, and here is what I found on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s site:
Few basic facts about our state have caused as much confusion and led to as much muddled thinking as the derivation of its name. “Wisconsin” is the English spelling of a French version of a Miami Indian name for the river that runs 430 miles through the center of our state. Recent scholarship has concluded that in Miami it meant, “this stream meanders through something red.” Historical linguist Michael McCafferty has convincingly argued that this was a reference to the red sandstone bluffs of the Wisconsin Dells.
With regard to politics, what does Wisconsin mean, however? Specifically, I’m referring to Governor Walker’s determination to break a union, privatize publicly held entities, dominate the Democratic Party in the state, and carry out a broad strategy designed by Karl Rove and others.
Not a political scientist, I don’t know what all of this means. I think it means that the nature of American politics has changed and will continue to change significantly–irreparably?
A brief digression: I remember sitting in my campus’s cafeteria once with a political scientist when a colleague of his came up and offered anxious opinions about a national election. The fellow I was eating with said, “Look, one set of thieves is about to take over from another set of thieves.”
More or less, I have–or had–the same opinion about American politics. Until George W. Bush came along. Then some things happened that, if not completely unprecedented, were nonetheless so extraordinary that they shook my view chronically, but not acutely diseased American politics. –Not just what political scientists seem to agree is the theft of a presidential election, but the complicity of the Supreme Court. The deeply misguided response to 9-11–so misguided that members of that administration are viewed globally as war-criminals. Guantanamo. A major news organization as an arm of a major political party. And what seems like a desire to change the nature of American government, wiping out regulation altogether, allowing banks, brokerage houses, and multi-national corporations unchecked reign. Force-feeding citizens “wedge-issues” like a pate-producing goose.
I think Walker’s carrying out of Rovian strategy, as well as the Rove-funded attack-ads and the coordinated strategies in other states, mean a continuing excess of Caligulan proportions: attack-politics with no sense of boundaries, no sense of any greater good, not even a modicum of respect for due process and deliberation.
I think it means the death of more or less reasonable discourse, at least on the part of extreme GOPers–and who among them now is not extreme? The specific issues aside, I have been struck by how relatively reasonable the Democratic politicians have sounded in comparison to Walker and company. Not free of common political rhetorical tricks, surely, but nonetheless in the realm of reasonable.
What does Wisconsin mean for the next national elections? Rove hopes it means the equivalent of a coup d’etat, complete extremist GOPer domination of the federal government–one that would probably astonish and sicken Dwight Eisenhower, were he alive.
What some experts seem to believe is that Rove has over-reached and given the Dems leverage to win those elections.
My money, so to speak, is on Rove because no one has stopped him so far. He owns the GOP. He will probably reach his goal of raising 120 BILLION (echoes of Dr. Evil) dollars. He will find the “rhetoric” to continue to divide working-class folks. He will find a way to turn enough states to defeat President Obama. So, for one layperson, me, the question, “What Does Wisconsin Mean?” morphs into “What is there to stop Rove?” Has even one Republican of any stature denounced Rove, his strategies, his tactics, and his theft of the Party? Not that I know of.