There was ostensible curiosity about whether Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) would sign into law legislation introduced after his midterm election loss that stripped power from Wisconsin’s governor and gave it to the heavily Republican legislature in the state. I say ostensible curiosity because no one familiar with Walker’s tenure as governor would be under any illusion that he would not approve the changes. And so, on Friday, he did.
He was sensitive to the critique that his party was changing the nature of his job, though, at least to the extent that he made a pointed effort to demonstrate how his successor, Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D), would share many of the same powers he had. To that end, he unveiled the exceptionally terrible illustration seen above.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the effort perfectly: “a poster with a Venn-like diagram.” That illustration is to a Venn diagram what the Las Vegas casino Paris is to Paris — something that’s apparently supposed to be evocative of the real thing but is not.
Let’s review how Venn diagrams work. The point is to show places that two different subjects overlap or differ. So, like this:
Walker’s illustration, instead, takes this approach.
It is not how Venn diagrams work.
Moreover, it is not helpful in illustrating the point at hand. We get that Walker is trying to downplay the changes that were made, but, by leaving out things that separate his powers from Evers’s, he ends up making the Venn diagram format particularly useless.
Let’s use an example. Let’s take Walker’s strategy for differentiating himself from Evers and apply it to a comparison of myself and Superman.
We get this.
Accurate! Why would anyone suggest that anything is different between me and Superman? Look at the chart!
The problem, of course, is that the important stuff all belongs in that left-most circle but is intentionally omitted to make me appear to be as powerful as Superman.
So let’s redo Walker’s chart, using the Venn diagram format in its correct manner, and including the powers that Walker enjoyed and which he just signed away for Evers (as reported by the Journal Sentinel).
Wait. You mean Superman can fly? No one told me that!
Notice that we don’t have any traits that Evers enjoys and which don’t apply to Walker. That makes his circle look a little spare, so let’s put something there.
Now, that is a useful Venn diagram.