The Wisconsin State Assembly, a Republican-controlled house in the state legislature, passed a resolution this week renaming the state “holiday” tree to a “Christmas” tree after dedicating more than a half-hour of debate to the subject.
Meanwhile, after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session to address gun violence, the Republican legislators gaveled-in and gaveled-out of the session within a matter of seconds.
Evers defended calling it a holiday tree during an interview with a local reporter. “It’s a holiday season for a whole bunch of people in state of Wisconsin — even those that aren’t part of Christian faith. I think it’s a more inclusive thing,” he said.
According to reporting from Patch in Milwaukee, the Assembly debated the issue of the holiday/Christmas tree for 33 minutes and 44 seconds. The special session on guns lasted for about 15 seconds.
In other words, for every second dedicated to discussing guns during the special session, Republicans in the state Assembly spent 135 seconds trying to rename a tree. What’s more, the resolution on the tree passed, whereas no action on guns was taken, in spite of a recent Marquette Law School poll showing residents overwhelmingly in favor of gun control measures.
Wisconsin politicians spent about a half-hour debating whether to call its evergreen a Christmas tree or a holiday tree. Last week, a legislative session on gun violence lasted less than a minute. https://t.co/97Zxh9OzGh
— NYT National News (@NYTNational) November 14, 2019
Eighty percent of Wisconsinites support expanding background checks to apply to every sale of a weapon in the state. What’s more, in a state with a heavy hunting tradition, 57 percent of residents want to see a ban on assault weapons, according to the poll.
In addition to the tree, several other symbols are placed throughout the Capitol during the winter season. A Menorah and a Nativity scene are traditionally placed on the second floor of the building, and other secular and atheist symbols — including a Seinfeld-inspired “Festivus” pole — are included as well.
The tree is featured most prominently, however, directly in the center of the rotunda and towering several feet tall. It’s been a tradition in the state Capitol building since 1916. In 1985, to avoid the appearance of favoritism toward a specific faith, the tree was renamed a holiday tree, and remained that way until 2011, when Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, came to office and called it a Christmas tree again, doing so for the eight years he was in office.