Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
It's not good news for Scott Walker that Wisconsin Republicans plan to debate a proposal on secession at their state party convention in early May.
The Wisconsin Governor, who is widely seen as a 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful, told reporters on Friday that, for the record, he does not favor Wisconsin seceding from the United States.
"I don't think that one aligns with where most Republican officials are in the state of Wisconsin — certainly not with me," Walker said.
It's not the kind of statement the Governor wants to make as he kicks off his reelection bid on Tuesday. But Republican politics in Wisconsin are a weird petri dish of rightwing ideology and out-of-state corporate interests. Occasionally, some strange smelling byproducts emerge.
Consider the recent concurrent attacks on several long-serving, center-right politicians who were formerly pillars of the state Republican Party.
Another resolution adopted by the same committee that wants to debate whether Wisconsin should secede castigates veteran Republican committee chairman Luther Olsen for failing to drink the tea party's anti-Common Core concoction.
Longtime Congressman Tom Petri just announced his retirement after 35 years, following a tea party primary challenge against him.
On the same day, Mike Ellis, the state senate president stepped down after he was caught on video insulting Scott Walker and apparently planning to create a super-PAC to illegally coordinate negative ads against his opponent (the same type of activity that is reportedly the impetus for a secret probe of Walker's own campaign).
The undercover filmmakers who cornered Ellis and secretly taped him at his favorite bar have used similar tactics against ACORN and Planned Parenthood.
All of this cannibalistic activity on the right in Wisconsin shows how far the state has drifted from the affable days of Republican governor Tommy Thompson's long rule.
Politicians like Thompson, who supported a statewide Medicaid expansion to help cover the working poor and their kids, or Luther Olsen and Mike Ellis, who openly criticized the voucherization of the state's public schools, are not tolerated any more.
The Republican Party of today must toe the line for a coalition of out-of-state corporate lobbyists and increasingly powerful rightwing ideological interests, supported by the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, which, for the first time this year, threw its weight around far, far down the ballot, in a school board race in Kenosha and a tiny county board election in far northern Iron County.
In the Wisconsin Republican Party of today, there is no room for moderation, or independent thought.
That should give voters pause, not just in Wisconsin, but in other states that are targets for the same coordinated rightwing attack.
All that's left of the Republicans in Wisconsin are the wing-nuts and John Birch Society members who see health care and public education as a socialist conspiracy, and the corporate interests that are determined to push their own agenda in the state.
Walker helped open the door to this far right takeover. But it could also hurt his own long-term political ambitions.
In that embarrassing video footage, Mike Ellis observes, "Walker is working for Walker."
That is likely true. But the people he hooked up with to further his own career may end up burning him along with the rest of the state.