Gary Wisenbaker Blog
Gary Wisenbaker
Walker to GOP Establishment: “Put up or shut up.”
Walker: taking it to the Hill establishment

Walker:  backing up rhetoric with a record

George Wallace and American frustration

Taking an opportunity in Minneapolis where he rolled out his plans to replace a repealed Obamacare, Wisconsin governor and GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker took it straight to the Washington GOP establishment.

“Republican leaders in Washington told us during the campaign last year that we needed a Republican Senate to repeal Obamacare. Well, Republicans have been in charge of both houses of Congress since January and there still isn’t a bill on the president’s desk to repeal Obamacare,” Walker said.

This, he went on, simply wouldn’t stand in Wisconsin when Walker was first elected governor.  He recalled how the voters wanted something done about the unions and their stranglehold on state government, a sentiment which put Walker and the GOP in power in 2010.

And Walker, for one, intended to match the campaign rhetoric with action.

“It was put up or shut up time. If we didn’t do what we said we’d do, the voters would have every right to throw us out,” Walker recalled telling state GOP lawmakers.

The legislature got on board and passed far reaching changes regarding collective bargaining as well as budgetary cut backs.

For his efforts, Walker was forced into a recall election in 2012, and won even though Barack Obama carried the state 53% to Mitt Romney’s 47%.  He then ran for re-election in 2014, and won again.

With latest polling data showing GOP primary voters giving 24, 9 and 5 per cent support to Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, respectively, it’s inarguable that over one-third of them feel abandoned by what Glenn Reynolds calls “America’s ruling class.”

That a large number of an electorate may feel overlooked or ignored is certainly not a new phenomenon particular to this election cycle.

Presidential candidate George Wallace tapped into it in 1968.

The biggest domestic issue of 1968, according to Wallace was,”[Our] fine American people, living their own lives, buying their own homes, educating their children, running their own farms, working the way they like to work, and not having the bureaucrats and intellectual morons trying to manage everything for them. It’s a matter of trusting the people to make their own decisions.”

Wallace described a federal government that had become a “pseudo-intellectual government, where a select, elite group have written guidelines in bureaus and court decisions, have spoken from some pulpits, some college campuses, some newspaper offices, looking down their noses at the average man on the street.”

Sensing a strength in that message, Richard Nixon picked it up, cleaned it up and called these voters “the Silent Majority” and rode them to a landslide victory in 1972.  And throughout the 80s, these voters took on additional attributes and became “the Moral Majority” and ushered in an era of (generally speaking) GOP dominance nationwide. 

The pundits, however, haven’t really talked much about this constituency for 47 years. The issues are updated, immigration, abortion, religious rights, for example, but there’s still that sense that Americans don’t want a pseudo-intellectual government, its bureaucrats or courts telling them how to manage their lives.

Rising to or holding on to power on the pretext of action, then failing to act while turning a deaf ear, can be hazardous to one’s political life. 
When the citizens of Paris back in 1790 were tired of being ignored, Marie Antoinette reportedly replied rather unsympathetically.  “Let them eat cake” turned out to be a death sentence.

Washington Republicans would be well disposed to listen to Walker, a Midwestern outside-Washington governor with a track record of action, as well as others who want bills “put on the president’s desk.”  

“Put up or shut up”, indeed.  It can be done.  Ask Scott Walker.

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