Monday, April 21, 2008

Build a bridge

For years, I have been involved in partisan politics and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, that is not going to change now.

However, I have learned something over the last several months.

People are not as partisan as we like to think they are. Just running for local office has taught me that.

Common sense would tell you that a Republican couldn’t win an election in the heart of Kenosha.

Common sense would tell you that living in a Democratic stronghold in Kenosha, the chair of the Republican Party in Kenosha County, stood no chance of winning.

Common sense would tell you that a woman, much less a conservative woman, stood no chance of winning amongst the old school Democrats that vote religiously.

Yet, it happened. A known female Republican Party board member won in a Democratic controlled area of Kenosha.

It is not like folks did not know that I was the chair of the Republican Party of Kenosha County, because they did. The Kenosha News rarely mentioned my name without mentioning the Republican Party stuff.

Why now?

I think the answer is a lot simpler than many of us in Wisconsin are ready to admit.

Wisconsinites, even here in Kenosha, are a lot less partisan than we believe they are.

People care about themselves and their families a lot more deeply than they care about the Democrat Party or the Republican Party.

On January 24th, 2008- I learned a very valuable lesson. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich was visiting in Wisconsin and I had been invited by RPW chair Reince Priebus to attend. It was at that moment that my campaign came together.

Speaker Gingrich stated that if you wanted to win elections in Wisconsin, it was time to embrace the issues that folks on both sides of the aisle care about.

For example- taxes, spending, and public safety are issues that both sides of the aisle share.

So I embraced some of these ideas when I was running for office.

I noticed in my area that even voting Democrats are as frustrated with high taxes and out of control spending, as Republicans have been.

In fact the Democrats on the state level and on the national level are already running their campaigns with the idea to raise taxes. I am almost surprised by this.

Recently the Democrats in this state proposed yet more tax increases instead of spending cuts in order to fix the millions of dollars worth of shortages they have created in our budget.

The idea that millions of Democrats in this state are thrilled about this proposal is dead wrong. They are not. Yes, there are a few liberal political pundits that actually will try and sell the idea that these tax increases are only for the businesses and not on middle class Wisconsinites. Common sense tells us that if you increase taxes on businesses, you increase taxes on the working folks of Wisconsin.

I love the idea that Democrats will run on tax increases. Let us see how far that will get them in November.

Republicans on the other hand, need to stop pretending that the rising cost of health care in Wisconsin is not a big issue. It is a big issue. People care about this issue and it is time for Republicans to talk about it and bring their own ideas to the table.

In order to win in November, Republicans will have to talk about health care and their plans to fix this issue. In my opinion, the very first thing we need to do is get the free market involved in our health care. It is time for a little competition.

Another issue that will have to address in our elections is Voter ID. It is only a matter of time before folks finally explode on this issue.

I am completely convinced that both Democrats and Republicans want to know that elections are fair and free in Wisconsin. So, the day will come when both sides have to face this issue head on.

People will embrace good ideas and policies, if we just give them a chance.

Over the next several months, the media will try to once again align people behind the Democrat flag or the Republican flag, but in truth, folk care about themselves and their families.

This November’s election will come down to some very basic principles- whichever candidate on the state and national level that does a better job preaching the ideas that are important to both sides of the aisle, will be the candidate that wins.

It is time for Republicans to once again build a bridge like President Reagan showed us how to do. Reagan did not win a single election by jumping up and down screaming about illegal immigrants and daring people to defy him. Reagan stood no chance of getting his tax cuts passed unless the Democrats were willing to step across the aisle and work with him.

Tommy Thompson did not win in Wisconsin by turning a deaf ear to so called “democrat” issues- he embraced them. Badger Care is one of those very ideas that both Democrats and Republicans embraced under Governor Tommy Thompson.

Newt Gingrich was right- if we want to start winning elections in Wisconsin, it is time to start embracing some of the issues that we all share and see as a problem.

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