I keep waiting for Wisconsin’s very own Tea-Party-Talk-Radio (TPTR) product, Ron Johnson, to be included on the list of amateur right-wing nut-jobs in the national press. I search in vain for his inclusion on the list of whack over-heated rookies like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and the deliciously unhinged Carl “I’ll Take You Out” Paladino.
But, no. The bland-by-design Johnson is merely single-minded, stupid and naive – not entertaining in a no-masturbation sort of way. So Wisconsin has thus far been spared the indignity of having its Republican electorate mocked for having such a lightweight on the ballot for something serious like a seat in the U.S. Senate; against the venerable Russ Feingold, no less. I guess our time to be subjected to national ridicule will be after the election, if we are foolish enough to dump the finest senator in Wisconsin history for an empty-suited creature of the TPTR astro-turf flash-in-the-pan “movement”.
Should that formerly-unthinkable and now simply horrific event occur, it is fair to ask what the TPTR candidates like Johnson are going to do in Washington after they get out on the Senate floor and make their little speeches about imagined threats to Freedom and Liberty and the Peril of Tyranny that apparently resulted from the 2008 election. After their efforts to destroy health care reform, re-deregulate the financial and deep-water drilling industries and otherwise serve their corporate masters fail, what then?
The Big Secret of the TPTR candidates is that, for all of their blather about “career politicians” and the Dangers of Potomac Thinking, any of them that manage to get elected will be more beholden to Washington insiders than any group of new senators in the nation’s history. Knowing nothing but the blind, misdirected rage of the simpleton targets of the manipulative campaigns that recruited them and got them elected, they will be lost in the hard work of real legislation. Faced with the unfamiliar processes of appropriations (yes, tea-baggers, money must be spent), constituent relations (yes, tea-baggers, you are going to have to talk to people other than yourselves) and the other nuts-and-bolts of government, Ron Johnson and the others will have to turn to the supposed experts that want to pull their strings in the first place.
And they won’t have to go far to find that help. Standing right there at their office door when they show up for the transition will be staffers from Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and other right-wing “think” tanks – the same people who created the Tea Party conceit as a re-branding of Republicanism in the first place. Senator Ron Johnson won’t have to reach in his back pocket to find the help he needs because he is already in someone else’s back pocket. All they need to do in his first day in Washington is take him out and attach the strings.
That’s why we have always wanted to know how our candidates think – to try to get an idea how they will deal with the unexpected issues that always arise in the flow of the nation’s work. When you get a candidate like Johnson, with limited experience and even less of an interest in the weighty issues of state, you have someone who needs help. And we know where he’ll get it from – from the same people that produced the debacle of the Gingrich/Bush years. We’d be replacing the relatively-independent, seriously thoughtful Feingold with a bought-and-sold puppet of a vast network of Washington insiders who failed when they were last in power and yearn to fail again.
Johnson has an ad in heavy rotation right now, bragging about his general state of ignorance and the fact that he’s not a lawyer. There is a reason that lawmakers in the Senate are more likely than not to be a lawyer – sometimes it takes that special skill to craft legislation that has the effect you want it to have. There are people from the business community in the Senate as well – Herb Kohl is an excellent example. But Herb Kohl isn’t in the Senate to avenge some slight affecting his single business, as Johnson says he is (to avenge the imagined effects of health care reform). Kohl has always been thoughtful and well-rounded, with a consistent world view that guides his quiet but effective tenure. That a single-issue dweeb like Ron Johnson could become the same is against all the evidence.
If you want independent thought and careful consideration of all issues from all sides in Washington, Wisconsin will never do as good as we are already doing with Russ Feingold. The election of Ron Johnson would put one of Wisconsin’s senate seats in the hands of reprehensible Washington insiders with bad track records, bad ideas and bad intentions.