Skip to comments.Barrett, Mitchell, and the Future of Wisconsin
Posted on 06/03/2012 12:15:18 PM PDT by jfd1776
Theres an old saying: A conservative is a liberal who got mugged.
Well, the state of Wisconsin is now filled with such newly minted conservatives. After decades of the corrupt partnership between the Democratic Party, the public and private unions (especially WEAC), and the states bureaucracy, the residents of Wisconsin have watched their economic opportunities plummet and their government costs rise. Manufacturers have fled the state in droves, ever fewer new startups have arrived to take their place, and their taxes have continued to climb, taking ever-larger bites of an ever-shrinking taxpayer base.
Taxpayers feel like theyve been mugged, again and again, for decades, and more and more of them are learning their lesson. Politically, Wisconsin is undergoing a realignment, wherein people who once thought that conservatives went too far that conservatives just werent reasonable enough are finally acknowledging that conservatives were right all along.
And this is happening, for Wisconsinites, at just the right time, because its happening at a time when the Wisconsin Republican Party is actually nominating real conservatives for high office. Businessman Ron Johnson won his US Senate seat, and Governor and Lt Governor Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch won their executive offices, in November of 2010 for this reason. Its an unprecedented awakening in the state still identified with the Fighting Bob LaFollette era of a century ago.
But the American Left that cabal of the Democratic Party, the unions, and the mass media, which have been in it for themselves for decades but have falsely claimed all along to be in it for the little guy is hoping against all hope that the 2010 election was an aberration. If that tsunami was a truly realigning election, then the days of the shop steward and Democratic party boss are numbered indeed.
Turning Back the Clock
Upon losing it all to conservative Republicans in November of 2010, the Wisconsin Democrats decided on a plan: hamstring the entire political process in every way possible:
Use the tactics of 1960s civil (or uncivil) disobedience to storm the capitol building in Madison, doing millions of dollars of damage to that landmark structure in the process. Abuse the rules of state government to deny a quorum by having the minority senators leave the state for weeks, and by calling as many frivolous and expensive recall elections as possible, as soon as the waiting period allows. Use the rhetoric of the progressive era of a century ago to declare that workers rights are being taken away by the cold-hearted robber barons of the GOP, like some wild-eyed socialist might have claimed in campaign speeches for Eugene Debs or their hero Bob LaFollette.
And to all these anachronisms, add yet another: nominate for the gubernatorial recall an unreconstructed radical ex-congressman and an inexperienced blank slate for a running-mate.
It doesnt appear to be working. At this writing, 48 hours before the polls open (though of course early voting has already been taking place, both legally and illegally, much like the early petitioning that got the recall on the ballot a few months earlier), public opinion polls indicate that the Walker-Kleefisch team remains strongly popular. But turnout is another matter, and vote fraud yet another still. So, as long as the Democrats have a union machine and no scruples about cheating, the Republican ticket will need every supporter to go to the polls and bring a friend along.
It takes a lot of living, breathing, honest voters to compete numerically with the coalition of the real and the fictional that the modern Democratic Party brings to every election.
Barrett and Mitchell
Tom Barrett and Mahlon Mitchell could hardly be more different. Their ticket was assembled to appeal to the voters of the 1960s and the 2000s, though likely (and in this writers eyes, hopefully) not to the voters of 2012.
Tom Barrett has spent a career on the very far left of American politics. As a smiling, graying gentleman in a suit, he would appear at first glance to be a moderate but then one looks at his resume, and discovers the truth.
As a congressman in the 1990s, Tom Barrett gained a 100% rating from NARAL, the political arm of the abortion lobby. In his ten years in Washington, he earned a lifetime rating of 7% from the American Conservative Union.
Barrett spent nearly two decades casting bad votes in the legislatures of Madison and Washington to limit free speech in violation of the 1st amendment (HR 2356), to limit firearms rights in violation of the 2nd amendment through sponsorship of laws to ban ammunition as well as the guns themselves, to undermine our ability to defend ourselves against nuclear weapons (HR 4546), to undermine our judiciary through acceptance of an international criminal court (also in HR 4546) (all bills quoted are from 2002, his final year in Congress).
Barrett repeatedly voted for high taxes, high government spending, more regulatory authority for the bureaucracy, less freedom for the private sector. His entire career from the state house to the mayors office has been an unending quest for greater government control over the lives of the citizens.
And when there has been an opportunity to veer into the extreme, such as the Partial Birth Abortion Ban that even many pro-abortion politicians couldnt bring themselves to oppose, Tom Barrett sided proudly with the extremists, carving out a niche for himself in the farthest left edge of even the Democratic Party.
If Barretts selection was designed to appeal to the 1960s voters who miss the glory days of the 1968 and 1972 DNC conventions and the days of rage, then Mahlon Mitchells selection was designed to appeal to the gullible voters of 2006 and 2008, those who accepted the rhetoric of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
Unlike former bank regulator Tom Barrett, Mahlon Mitchell is a fireman, an honorable profession in which people risk their lives for the people of their community. He rose quickly in Madison to become, just last year, the president of the states firefighters union.
But Mitchell has never served in elective office. At 35, his political positions are a blank slate generic Democrat, generic pro-union, but clueless in interviews about the issues of the state of Wisconsin. One is tempted to assume that he was chosen for electability alone not in an appeal to intelligent voters who study the issues, but to the Obama voters of 2008 who could be won with the bright smile of a good-looking young man, spouting vacuous phrases that sound good but say nothing. Obviously selected because hes the only inoffensive union leader in the state, and boasting no other qualification, the gentleman is clearly out of his depth in seeking public office at all, particularly at such a high level.
And, unlike the residents of many other states, Wisconsinites do know that the selection of a Lieutenant Governor can be an important one. Just a decade ago, when former governor Tommy Thompson accepted a position in the Bush administration, Lieutenant Governor Scott McCallum assumed the office and served for two years before losing to his big-spending successor, Jim Doyle.
Just as Wisconsin cannot afford an unreconstructed adherent to the bankrupting policies of 1960s liberalism, neither can the state afford a cipher whose answer to questions of substance is frequently well have to figure that out when we get there.
The Economy and the Future of American Politics
It is painfully obvious what the Wisconsin Democrats have done in choosing this ticket. They dream of nullifying the 2010 election; of turning back the clock to their partys glory days of the past, when economic details were boring and elections could be won by promising everything to everybody, smiling a wide smile and kissing a few babies on the way back to the limo.
But those days are behind us. When Nancy Pelosi won control of the House in 2006, they might still have been salvageable, but Barack Obamas victory in 2008 rendered it impossible. For even before he took office, the proposals and promises to come from the office of the president elect started to terrify anyone who was still paying attention. The announcements of takeovers and taxes, radical appointments and crippling regulations, flooded the nation in a sea of fears, such that the tea party movement was born in February 2009, less than a month into Obamas presidency.
Political awareness, particularly economic consciousness, is greater today than at any time in decades. The American people or at least, enough of them to make the difference have awakened to the needed realignment of the American people against the tax-and-spend politics and politicians of the past. President Obama is not only likely to be defeated in November, 2012; that defeat is likely to be a nationwide rout of Carter and Mondale proportions (and deservedly so).
It is therefore more likely that the 2010 elections were not an aberration, but a signal, a warning to future office-seekers that the rules have changed. Not everywhere, sadly, but in enough places that the unreconstructed leftists of Barretts ilk will have an ever-more difficult time in future elections. Perhaps its time for them to retire and save themselves the humiliation.
But lets consider what happens if the team of Barrett and Mitchell should happen to win on Tuesday, through their own luck and their partisans vote fraud, and through the bad luck and complacency of the Walker-Kleefisch side.
If Barrett and Mitchell win, they will not turn back the budget reforms that have saved the state. Hopeful unionistas dream that they might, but with the current political climate, its not possible. The budget reforms have already saved over a billion dollars across Wisconsin, enabling school districts and local governments to avert the draconian layoffs that would otherwise have been necessary. And with the now widespread awareness of how sweet a deal the public employees had been getting (with none of the pension contributions or healthcare copays that the private sector has had for decades), the idea of any public support for repeal is a pipe dream. This genie is not going back in its ornate bottle.
Going forward, then, the question is what the future will look like.
Walker and Kleefisch intend to make the state more business-friendly to encourage more expansions, more startups to attract more companies to move to (or back to) Wisconsin as the economy improves. Barrett and Mahlon would most likely freeze the changes as they are today, vetoing any further improvements proposed by the Republican legislature, stymieing the conservative efforts to grow the states economy through a welcoming and prosperous private sector.
Now, what does that mean in the greater context of the national economy? As every business page has reported for the past couple of years, American business is in a holding pattern; afraid to expand in the USA as long as Obama is in the White House and such anti-business nightmares as Obamacare remain around the corner. There are entrepreneurs and investors all over the country looking for a place to start manufacturing and distributing, as soon as the coast is clear. When Barack Obama leaves office, there will be investment capital and economic activity all over the country, seeking the most fertile ground. Will that be Wisconsin, or wont it?
We know where Wisconsin, and her neighbor Illinois, have stood in the past, in this competition. Over recent decades, both states have been bleeding jobs as companies have fled to Kentucky, Texas, Florida and sadly, points abroad as well. Louisiana has joined Texas as a business center, under the brilliant leadership of Bobby Jindal, and during the Doyle years it took some of the manufacturing that Wisconsin had driven away.
Illinois has made its choice with certainty. By electing convicted felon Rod Blagojevichs successor Pat Quinn to a full term in 2010, and by writing a legislative map that renders the state virtually unchangeable for a decade, Illinois has cast its lot with the past. It is no competition for Wisconsin, nor anyone else (well, maybe California).
But Wisconsin is at a crossroads. Wisconsin chose the right direction in 2010, electing pro-jobs executives and legislators alike. The reforms of Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, and the Republican House and Senate majorities have already reaped great benefits in rendering the local districts solvent, eliminating the need for firings or even furloughs wherever the tools were used.
These reforms have placed Wisconsin in a position to benefit from the boom years to come, and if Wisconsin government continues on that path, theres no telling how prosperous the state might soon become.
There is still work to be done. Wisconsins business taxes, personal income taxes, and property tax structure remain a deterrent to investors. Wisconsins obnoxious regulatory bodies (such as the virtual bans on such critical needs as new drilling and mining where safe and promising) still make the state undesirable when compared to her southern competitors. If Wisconsin wants to win some of those contests with Louisiana, Texas, and low-cost countries overseas, Wisconsin knows who it needs at the helm.
To go with the Barrett-Mitchell ticket is to follow Illinois and California in the race to the bottom.
Sticking with Walker and Kleefisch, on the other hand, is the path to prosperity. Walker and Kleefisch know exactly how to remove the roadblocks to prosperity; they are ready and willing to start moving Wisconsin forward.
With Scott Walker in the governors office, as soon as the jackboot of Washington, D.C. is finally removed from the neck of the national economy, Wisconsin will be well positioned to thrive at last.
But only if the removal of those Washington brakes isnt answered by the installation of new and stronger brakes in Madison.
Copyright 2012 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance lecturer. A former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has been a recovering politician, and an Illinois resident, for fifteen years now but his Wisconsin roots are deep, and he always wishes his friends and relatives there the very best!
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“When the recession ends (about ten minutes after Barack Obama is defeated this November......”
There will be a burst of relief, let there be no doubt. But the economic future of the US and indeed most of the rest of the world is not an outpatient. Massive, massive restructuring is going to have to take place and the Repubs have every chance in the world to be blamed for the “austerity” (for want of a better word that is going to occur, regardless of November’s electee. The damage the monetary policies the Fed has inflicted upon the US are going to be quite longlasting. Example: Japan. It may very well take the better part of a generation to get us out of this.