State Leaders Need Their Rebel Base

AP Photo/Joe Skipper
AP Photo/Joe Skipper

During the midterm elections, conservatives ushered in a new crop of Republican representatives, senators, governors, and state legislators. Most of the winners promised to cut the size and scope of government. While we still have many obstacles on the federal level, there are real examples on the state level of cutting government waste.

At Ricochet, Jon Gabriel wrote:

By a factor of nearly three to one, Americans believe that state and local government is more successful at solving problems than Washington, D.C. In the just-released Heartland Monitor Poll sponsored by Allstate and National Journal, 64 percent of respondents said that more progress is being made by governments close to home compared to just 26 percent who chose the federal government.

Liberty-minded activists need to do a better job of highlighting and defending the efforts of governors and legislators who are making positive efforts to get their states on the right track.

The two I have been watching are Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Doug Ducey of Arizona.

A few weeks ago, a liberal friend was shocked when I told her I was a fan of Governor Scott Walker. “You?” she exclaimed. See, I was supposed to be one of the “normal” ones on the right. Then my friend, who now lives in Brooklyn, said, “He is very polarizing. I’m from Wisconsin and don’t know anybody who likes him.”

That’s one of those statements that says more about the person saying it than it does about Governor Walker’s popularity. When faced with Governor Walker’s electoral and recall wins, those on the Left turn their noses up at those hicks outside of Madison and Milwaukee who vote for him. They must be really confused by his popularity nationally.

In his speech in New Hampshire this past weekend, Governor Walker talked about important victories in Wisconsin. Property taxes have gone down. Over 13,000 businesses have been created. Unemployment is down, and not in the fake way like the national numbers; more people actually have jobs. These are just some of the reasons exit polls in 2014 showed that Governor Walker won 18-29 year-olds. As I’ve said before, it will take a Generation Xer like Walker with an entrepreneurial spirit and distrust for the government to put Wisconsin in the black. Just like cheese curds, it may be time to share Governor Walker with the rest of the country.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is the Walker of the West. He’s making all the right people angry. The central theme in his campaign was shrinking government. In a symbolic–but also financially prudent–gesture, he released his budget to the Arizona legislature on thumb-drives. It saved the state $8,000 and was a great way to start the conversation.

Last week, the Arizona legislature passed the budget, and the pearl-clutching began. Like Governor Walker, Governor Ducey is dealing with well-organized teachers unions who are misrepresenting the cuts in redundant administrative costs. The budget actually puts more than $160 million in new spending into classrooms. The new budget spends more on K-12 education in Arizona than ever before. Yet the imperial media is repeating misinformation from administrators and teachers unions without any regard to facts.

Arizona is the second state, behind Virginia, to pass a budget for 2015. In a recent interview, Ducey defended the budget process and, by extension, the people who elected him to actually shrink the size of government. Inside Sources reports:

Whether this marks the beginning of a new era of a more-efficient government in Arizona remains to be seen.  Those who decried the legislative chaos of prior years are now bemoaning the speed and “lack of transparency” from the three-day process and early-morning votes, despite the fact that the governor’s budget proposal has been public for more than seven weeks.

“This is the budget I ran on. It is the budget I talked about in my inauguration speech and my State of the State speech. On January 16, we released this budget for everyone to see, and the budget that we passed this week was about 97% of the budget we released on January 16,” explained Ducey. “I said what are we waiting for? It’s time to balance the budget. We’ve put out a plan that gets that done, and it’s time to make that happen. And that’s what we did.”

It’s not enough to just focus on 2016. Polling continues to show that Americans believe that government is the biggest problem facing the nation. When voters say there’s no difference between the two parties, it’s because they don’t see Republicans living up to the small government platform they espouse. We’re the anti-establishment rebels, and we have to champion leaders who are dismantling a bloated government, state by state. By highlighting the efforts of governors like Ducey and Walker, we’re reminding Americans that conservatives are more than just talk.


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