Wisconsin may not have statues dedicated to leaders of the Confederacy (we were on the good side), but we have a suggestion of a statue in desperate need of being taken down.
It’s time for the statue of Robert La Follette at the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol to come down. While we’re at it, let’s remove the bust of La Follette from the Capitol in Madison as well. There will be protests. But let’s face it, the Progressive Era is over. Thank God.
Wisconsin is now a red state, won fairly by former Governor Tommy Thompson (four times), Governor Scott Walker (three times) and President Donald Trump. We re-elected a conservative senator in a presidential year, Ron Johnson, when every pundit said it couldn’t be done. The majority of our representation to Congress is conservative. Conservatives control the state Assembly and the state Senate with record numbers, and conservatives even control the state Supreme Court 5-2.
Ironically, the only remaining Democratic statewide office-holder is Doug La Follette, a poor relation and a pale shadow of the La Follettes past.
So why continue to honor Robert La Follette? Seriously, who would miss him?
Let’s start with the statue in Washington. Wisconsin has two statues at the U.S. Capitol, one of Fr. Jacques Marquette and the other of La Follette. La Follette is actually the only Wisconsin statue in National Statuary Hall while Marquette is somewhere else sulking about the lost Catholic mission of the university named after him.
To get rid of the La Follette statue, all it would take is for the Wisconsin legislature to pass a resolution, with the governor’s approval, suggesting an alternative. Then Congress’ Joint Committee on the Library would approve it and, voila, no more monument to Progressive politics. Given Republican control of Congress, how could they say no?
We can replace La Follette with a more deserving representative of Wisconsin: Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a native of Shorewood, WI. Rehnquist served for 33 years on the Supreme Court, 19 as Chief Justice. His role in shaping the conservative direction of the court is a legacy worth remembering for all time, and Wisconsin should be proud to have a statue of the Chief Justice representing the state in our nation’s Capitol.
As for the bust of La Follette in the state Capitol, the state should just box it up and send it to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Future tours of school children can play guess who is the grumpy old man. If we have to replace it, who better to honor than former Governor Tommy Thompson?