Forward: Wisconsin’s bipartisan word

The podium at Gov. Scott Walker’s victory party is dominated by the word “Forward,” with the words “Moving Wisconsin” in smaller type above it. When President Obama began using the slogan “Forward” — it often appears on his podium, too — some conservatives expressed dark suspicions that it was, as The Washington Times said, “a word with a long and rich association with European Marxism.”

The New York Times noted in April on its “Inside Politics” blog: “Many Communist and radical publications and entities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries had the name “Forward!” or its foreign cognates. Wikipedia has an entire section called “Forward (generic name of socialist publications).”

Presumably conservatives will not argue that Walker is a socialist because he likes this word. Or they will insist that the word loses all of its socialist connotations as long as it is part of a longer slogan such as “Moving Wisconsin Forward.”

The exit poll in Wisconsin showed that the same electorate that returned Walker to the Governorship also favors Obama over Mitt Romney by a significant margin. So maybe “Forward” is the perfect word for an incumbent.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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