The One Word Evers Couldn’t Bring Himself To Utter

In a 40-minute, 4,000-word State of the State Address Tuesday night, Governor Evers didn’t once say the word that just might represent Wisconsin’s biggest problem. And, as Dan O’Donnell writes, that in itself is a big problem.


Jan. 24, 2023
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell


For forty minutes Tuesday night, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers delivered his fifth State of the State Address—a rambling, monotonous harangue indistinguishable from the previous four—but he did not devote a single second to one word. Out of exactly 4,306 of them, this word was noticeably absent.

It is a word that has for the entirety of Evers’ term in office defined his state’s largest city, and the lengths he went to avoid it Tuesday night belie just how much it has defined his failure as a leader. It is the word that has become synonymous with liberal dysfunction—so much so that none dare speak its name.

The word? Crime. Two days after two teenagers were murdered, nearly two dozen people were shot, and a man was killed in when a group of 13-15 year-olds on a weekend-long armed robbery spree crashed their stolen car into him, Governor Evers thought so little of the biggest issue facing the state that he didn’t even mention the word.


It would be shocking if it wasn’t so predictable. Since taking office four years ago, Governor Evers has presided over one of the most dramatic increases in the violent crime rate in state history. In 2018, the year before he was sworn into office, Wisconsin saw 176 homicides, 2,303 rapes, 11,337 aggravated assaults, and 27,546 simple assaults. In 2021, the most recent year for which Department of Justice data is available, there were 321 homicides (an 82% increase), 2,359 rapes, 13,099 aggravated assaults, and 29,166 simple assaults.

On Evers’ watch, Wisconsin has become the car theft capital of the United States, with a staggering 18,105 in 2021 alone (up 111% from the 8,566 the year before he took office). To put that into perspective, there were approximately 50 cars stolen in Wisconsin in 2021 every single day for an average of more than two per hour.



Rather than address this stark reality in his State of the State, Evers spoke in platitudes about a need for greater “investments” in “public safety.” Were he serious, he would tie any increases in state aid in his upcoming budget to concrete plans from municipalities and county justice systems to get tougher on violent criminals. He would have given a full-throated endorsement to the constitutional amendment overhauling cash bail in Wisconsin. And he would have demanded that every cent of state aid go to funding law enforcement, prosecutors’ offices, and jails and prisons and their staffs. Not one penny would be spent on social justice programs, diversionary treatment, or anything else that exists solely to keep violent sociopaths out of the prison system.

Were he serious, Evers could have galvanized conservative support for his budget and potentially negotiated with legislative Republicans to get some of his liberal fantasyland funded. The right and left were once united on locking up violent criminals, and Evers could have used a proposed crackdown on crime as a unifying theme to bring Wisconsin back together following a bitter election year.

Alas, Evers is not and has never been a serious man, and his State of the State was yet another painful reminder of it.