Steve Nass: Troll-King in Autumn

For many years, Steve Nass, as a state representative (now a state senator) was a notable farthest-to-the-right Wisconsin politician. The bête noire of liberals and universities, he was the state’s unmatched troll, criticizing the center-left time and again.

Nass was a right-wing populist long before Trump.  He was the great troll-king of Wisconsin, firing florid press releases to the media to promote right-wing issues.

Now, after Trump’s rise, he’s merely one more right-wing populist in a crowded ecosystem. Others are younger, more energetic, and purely and exclusively Trump-backing.

A recent press release from Nass shows how hard it is to keep pace with other populists: he can still get attention, but he’s rhetorically indistinguishable – if not inferior – to hundreds of younger, social-media-savvy populists in Wisconsin.

Nass proposes in a press release to use his claimed legislative authority over rule-making to prevent the UW System from issuing coronavirus protocols without his, Nass’s, approval. (A WISGOP effort to pass a bill against required System protocols was garnering limited support, so Nass decided instead to assert authority over the UW System’s rule-making.)

Here’s now Nass describes his effort:

“Unfortunately, some chancellors in the UW System consider themselves mini-Andrea Palms not beholden to following state law and moving quickly to take advantage of the Delta-variant hysteria to enact excessive Covid-19 mandates. The legislature should not drag its feet in utilizing the powers we have to prevent state agencies from abusing the statutory and constitutional rights of citizens as was done in 2020,” Nass said.

That’s weak rhetorical tea. Nass begins with a complaint about… “mini-Andrea Palms.” A press release like this is too inwardly focused. Fewer people in Wisconsin know who Andrea Palm is (former state health-services designee now deputy secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services) than would grasp a description like “health czar” or “health secretary run amok” (to write from Nass’s point of view).

There are a hundred garden-variety Trumpists in Wisconsin, however wrong on the facts, who would have known how to write better than this. Nass picks up the pace later on in the release, but he’s racing in a crowded field of right-wingers now.

It was easier for Nass to be a troll-king when there were few other would-be monarchs. Now Nass faces more rivals to the throne than one can shake a stick at.

It used to be: can you believe what he said? Now it’s: yeah, they all say that.

And so, and so… Steve Nass the Troll-King finds himself in the autumn of his reign.

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