The staff and leadership of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) have proven that they are drunk with partisanship. The only hope is for both the rank and file and higher profile members to have a long overdue intervention. The long list of events over the last several months should finally inspire the legitimate business interests to take back their organization from the partisans that now control it. In a relatively short period of time WMC has lost board members and was on the receiving end of a well deserved rebuke from one of the leading businesses in the state, Epic Systems. Their successful effort to fill another seat on the state Supreme Court with an ethically challenged intellectual lightweight brought the scorn of a wide cross-section of independant observers. Now yet another Wisconsin leader is sounding the alarm over the direction and toxic influence of WMC.
Outgoing UW-Madison chancellor, John D. Wiley penned a forceful piece in Madison Magazine this week. In it he observes that ‘We’ve lost touch with our traditions and values. Our politics has become a poisonous swill, and the most influential voice for the business community has been taken hostage by partisan ideologues.’ He then goes on to thoroughly debunk many of WMC’s favorite talking points around the issue of taxes and regulation. He also confirms what many observers and activists have been saying for some time.
I believe (and many former WMC board members agree) that WMC has, somehow, passively allowed itself to be hijacked by highly partisan, ideologically driven staff. WMC has evolved from being a strategically focused business organization to being a partisan political lobbying organization. This, combined with WMC’s wealth and undeniable political influence and effectiveness, has made WMC the single biggest driver of our toxic political environment and, thus, the single biggest obstacle to the recovery of Wisconsin’s economy.
Chancellor Wiley and the others that have addressed this toxicity before him, are not the only ones that can clearly see what is happening at WMC. Each time WMC runs another deceptive campaign to install another rubber stamp in a place of power, the more citizens start taking note. In the absence of even a hint of reform within WMC, a growing number of citizens are beginning to take action of their own. Just last week the One Wisconsin Institute set up an email campaign allowing regular people to quickly email WMC’s Board of Directors and tell them what they think of WMC’s actions. Although the effort was launched without much fanfare or promotion, nearly 3,000 emails were sent in the first 30 hours and the number keeps growing. If you would like to express your outrage to WMC’s Board of Directors, please take a moment and do it today. It seems that WMC is content with ignoring the good and sound advice coming from so many distinguished leaders in our state. Perhaps their Board of Directors needs to hear the outrage of the public. Perhaps they will finally realize that the time for an intervention is now.