My fellow conservatives, we need to have a talk. A serious talk. The kind of talk that might make your stomach twist up a little, but we have to have it. It’s important. Hey, you liberals who usually read the first few paragraphs of this column before rolling your eyes and checking your Instagram, you can go ahead and get started on the cat videos early. This column is not for you. We will see you next week.
Are the liberals gone yet? Good.
Conservatives, what the heck happened to all of you?
For most of this decade, we have been on top of our game. We were organized, energized, and focused. We had our internal squabbles, but we worked hard to elect conservatives time and time again. We elected a Republican Legislature and then continued to make it more conservative. We elected Scott Walker — three times. We turned the Supreme Court into one that actually respects the rule of law and the role of the court.
The results have been fantastic. Our votes have led to lower taxes, concealed carry, right-to-work, protecting life, the expansion of school choice, regulatory reform, and an economic boom like we have not seen in generations. All of the work, time, and money spent getting conservatives elected at all levels of government have made a real positive difference in the lives of millions of Wisconsinites.
Then, last year, many of you inexplicably stood down. Last April, conservatives failed to show up to support Michael Screnock for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, allowing a rabid liberal to win a precious seat on that court. In November, conservatives twiddled their thumbs while liberals won every statewide seat on the ballot. We managed to protect the Legislature, but just couldn’t get jazzed enough to beat some really terrible liberal Democrats.
Here we are on the eve of the April election again and conservatives are still slumbering. In my home town of West Bend, which is supposed to be in the heart of conservative Wisconsin, we have a ridiculous school referendum where the school district wants to throw $74 million at shiny buildings right after the School Board voted to close the only charter school, give the teachers a $1 million raise, and were outed for allowing their teachers to ram the liberal orthodoxy down the throats of kids.
Worse than that, every candidate for the West Bend School Board on the same ballot supports the referendum while professing to be fiscally conservative. Calling themselves “fiscal conservatives” while supporting this outlandish school referendum is like someone saying they are vegan but that they occasionally like a nice plate of ribs. Their actions refute their words. Sadly, in West Bend, after this April, there will no longer be a single conservative on the West Bend School Board. The conservatives in the West Bend School District gave up and gave their government schools to a liberal activist faction.
The most important race on the ballot is again for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Conservative Judge Brian Hagedorn is running against a doctrinaire liberal, Judge Lisa Neubauer. Every single gain made by conservatives this decade is on the line. Moreover, the next decade hangs in the balance. After the 2020 census, Wisconsin will redraw its district maps again. In a divided government, the redistricting fight will almost certainly end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Every election for the next decade will be impacted by redistricting and the liberals know it. As we saw in Pennsylvania, a liberal activist court will gerrymander their way to electoral majorities without scruples or regret.
Despite all that is at stake, conservatives are once again standing aside. Most of the purportedly conservative groups who weigh in on elections are sticking their hands in their pockets. Too many conservatives are sitting at home griping on social media while liberals are putting their energy and money into supporting their candidate. Even as the liberals make vile, bigoted, anti-Christian attacks on Judge Hagedorn, conservatives cluck and do nothing. Where are the Catholics, Lutherans, and evangelicals standing up to defend attacks on their faith?
You have to hand it to Wisconsin’s liberals. They are relentless. They are organized, well-funded, and passionate about their beliefs.Conservatives were able to match them for most of this century’s sophomore decade, but now we have decided to take a collective nap. The liberals are still wide awake and fighting.
Why did so many of us conservatives give up? Is it because of Trump? Is it lingering frustration over the last state budget? Are you still mad about Walker’s presidential run? I don’t care. Get over it. None of those things has anything to do with the future of our state and our communities. We have serious work to do.
I often receive comments along the lines of, “I agree. What can I do?” That’s easy. First, go vote. Second, get to work. Volunteer. Donate money. Talk to your friends and family. Take the future of your community and your state as seriously as you do your children’s future, because those futures are one and the same.
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