Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker believes Republicans can win national elections again if the “R” next to their names stands for “reformers” instead of “rich guys.”
In an interview with Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon that aired on Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125, Walker discussed how he fought state and national forces that tried to derail his reforms to rein in public sector unions and their collective bargaining process.
Bannon said Walker’s fight is a modern profile in courage and mentioned that the late Andrew Breitbart spent a lot of time in Wisconsin fighting against the liberal demonstrators who tried to undermine Walker and his reforms. Walker’s story is detailed in his new book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.
Walker acknowledged that though in hindsight he wishes that he had done a better job of explaining the reforms and the mess Wisconsin was in to the state’s residents, he said the irony is he never wanted a big spectacle because he did not want to make it feel like he was targeting public employees. However, the 14 Democrats who fled the state to avoid a quorum ensured that the process would turn into a circus.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Walker said of public sector unions, mentioning that union dues are paying for political activities that go on to candidates based on how much more government they promise.
Walker said that “nobody in that equation ever stands up for hard-working taxpayers” and he emphasized that, “we empowered the workers because we got rid of automatic union membership.”
“We broke that cycle,” he continued, saying union bosses would have thrown their members under the bus for anything to preserve the system.
While the left learned from their failures in Wisconsin and applied those lessons on the national stage, Republicans did not learn from Walker’s successes or how he fought back. Bannon noted that the left was testing the “war on women” message in Wisconsin because their attacks against Walker’s reforms failed. In addition, Democrats also targeted Walker’s donors, something that President Barack Obama’s administration has been accused of doing leading up to the 2012 elections with the Tea Party.
“We were the home of the Occupy Movement,” Walker said, mentioning that his mother and children got threatened at grocery stores and he received death threats. He recalled thousands of protesters storming the state capitol and making a constant noise that was reminiscent of European soccer matches.
But Walker said part of his resolve came from realizing that he was not going to let a few thousand demonstrators drown out the voices of the five million who voted for him and that is why, in the end, the state does not have seniority and tenure when it comes to public school teachers so teachers can now be hired and fired based on merit and paid based on performance. He said schools had ridiculous rules because of the unions–like what the temperature had to be in the teacher’s lounge. Walker also said he instituted voter ID, concealed carry, more tax relief, tort reform, and the castle doctrine in addition to the collective bargaining reforms.
Republicans, though, did not learn from how Walker fought back, with plenty of Tea Party support, to get those reforms enacted and apply those lessons on the national stage.
Walker said that instead of Mitt Romney being cast as a reformer, his campaign enabled the Obama campaign to define the “R” next to his name as standing for the “rich guy.” And ultimately, the Romney’s campaign’s failure to embrace the reformer label and shed the “rich guy” level was its downfall, and it is a lesson Walker said Republicans have to learn going forward. He said Republicans need to “think with our head” but “more with our hearts” and “claim the moral issue” on public policy matters.
Walker, who may run for president in 2016, said that voters want a governor as president because they want “someone with a proven track record as an executive.” He said Republican governors are talking about how they are improving schools, reducing budgets, and lowering taxes instead of the sequester and debt ceiling, and that is why they are more appealing on the national stage.