by Aaron Biterman
Emily Mills provides a commentary on “Dissent Within the Ranks” but comes to remarkably different conclusions than me about the state of the Republican Party in Wisconsin. That's to be expected since Ms. Mills and I come from opposite ideological perspectives.
Mills cites Dick Leinenkugel's quick exit from the U.S. Senate race and a former College Republican Chair's exit from the GOP as flags that the Republican Party needs to run away from the Tea Party.
Tea Party of Hope
I couldn't disagree more. In fact, I believe the Tea Party — a movement of independent thinkers with core values which correspond to our nation's Founding principles — offers the primary hope for Republicans in Wisconsin to succeed.
The Tea Party has inspired tens of thousands of disgruntled Americans to get off their couches and participate in the ugly game of politics with the hope of booting out the incumbent politicians that have deeply damaged our country.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin Republicans are not taking advantage of this unique opportunity, as evidenced by the recent coronations of candidates in competitive primaries at the Statewide Republican Convention.
At the Convention, the party elevated Scott Walker to be the gubernatorial nominee and Ron Johnson to be the U.S. Senate nominee. These candidates now will gain hundreds of thousands of dollars designated for Republican Party-building activities to defeat other Republican candidates — in this case, Mark Neumann and Dave Westlake. What a disgusting use of donor funds. Republican Party of Wisconsin donors did NOT intend to have their money re-directed to defeat a fellow Republican candidate!
GOP Endorsement Process Slaps Tea Party in the Face
The party endorsement process is a pathetic disservice to Wisconsin voters.
There should be no party nominating process at all. Voters should be allowed to choose the Republican nominee without party influence and candidates should never be given extra resources from any party to win their primaries.
After all, isn't any free and fair election about voter choice, and how can voters make a real decision when party resources are being directed to one candidate to the disadvantage of another candidate?
I cannot think of a bigger slap to the face of the Tea Party than what the Republican Party of Wisconsin just did in picking the candidates they believe the Tea Party should support. Please don't be surprised when Tea Party activists and voters pick the candidates NOT selected by the State Republican Party.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin Still Missing Core Message
In her article, Mills notes that the Republican Party has “nearly perfected the art of closing file and staying on message” for decades. She must be watching a different Republican Party than I've been observing. What I saw was a Republican Party that won elections but had disgusting principles that allowed for bailouts, Keynesian economics, and endless foreign intervention.
The Republican Party establishment apparently agrees with Ms. Mills that the message of the party was on point for decades because they invited Karl Rove to be their featured speaker at the Convention.
Mr. Rove is heralded as a brilliant and infallible strategist — a knight in shining armor who has come to rescue Wisconsin Republicans with a message of … and that's where you lose me. The message.
The Republican Party used to advocate for the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and less government intrusion.
These are the principles the Tea Party stands behind and the principles that were firmly rejected by the Republican Party of Wisconsin when they nominated their candidates at a clubby Convention of insiders.
During the Bush years (a terrible time for our country), the Republican Party advocated bailing out private enterprise on the taxpayer dime, invading foreign countries pre-emptively (a wholly unAmerican idea), and further increasing the size and scope of agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.
I wasn't at the Republican Party of Wisconsin Convention, but I imagine Karl Rove received a standing ovation, gave a speech promoting his own brilliance, and then worked the crowd to sell his book. Karl Rove is neither brilliant nor is he someone Wisconsin Republicans should look to for guidance. His strategy failed our country and failed our party. George W. Bush governed as a neoconservative, a bankrupt philosophy focused on elitism and government intervention. And paved the way for Barack Obama.
It's time to return to the core principles of our nation, which means Wisconsin Republicans should reject the Big Government message of insiders like Karl Rove and dump the insider gaming of Party Conventions choosing candidates at the expense of voters.
Ms. Mills doesn't believe the Republican Party should embrace the Tea Party. If recent Party Establishment choices at the Republican Party of Wisconsin Convention are any indicator, the Party hierarchy agrees with Ms. Mills.
Regardless of the mistakes the Republican Party Establishment continues to make, the Republican Liberty Caucus of Wisconsin will continue to advocate for our nation's founding principles.
Aaron Biterman is a Wisconsin native. He is Vice Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus.