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A Libertarian’s View of the WI 43rd Assembly Race: Mailers

Every election brings flyer after flyer in the mail, tree after tree chopped down in the hope that at least a few voters will change their minds, or go to the polls despite earlier plans otherwise. Most people are clear in their convictions, and would vote for or against a candidate without a single scrap of paper being printed.

Many mailers are conventional, like these, for Republican Evan Wynn and Democrat Andy Jorgensen. One may click on the embedded image for a larger view:

It’s not those conventional flyers, but a comparative one, that’s of greater interest. In the mailer below, reproduced front and back, Rep. Wynn draws a contrast between himself and Rep. Jorgensen. After the photos, I’ll offer a few remarks.


Military Service. There’s nothing wrong with an ad that touts a candidate’s honorable military service, and veterans still receive less attention and after-service care than they deserve. Of all the myriad services the federal government provides, veterans’ affairs are underfunded, in favor of countless other projects directed to those who don’t truly need or want them.

One may have significant disagreement with parts of our current foreign policy, yet still see that military service is dangerous, generally difficult even when not dangerous, and necessary for America in both instances.

A Military-Civilian Contrast, Two Years On? Wynn’s mailers borrow themes from his last campaign, when he was a challenger to incumbent Rep. Kim Hixson. As Rep. Wynn has now been in office for two years, the election in which he’s engaged is hardly a battle between a former solidier and an incumbent legislator. It’s a contest between two civilian incumbents.

Military service is a significant accomplishment, but the accomplishments that should matter most are the civilian, legislative ones of the last term. The Wisconsin Assembly neither has, needs, nor would by law be able to have, an independent foreign or military policy.

Neither Wynn nor Jorgensen were fighting abroad these last two years: they’ve been members of a Midwestern legislature, working in civilian roles, of law and politics.

Supposedly “Shameful and Out of Control” Conduct. Oh, brother. Andy Jorgensen has been in the legislature for years, he’s known to countless people in the area, and no one thinks he’s out of control. That he wore an orange t-shirt and once protested vociferously against changes to collective bargaining laws doesn’t mean he was out of control.

One would have to be a low-information voter to think Jorgensen was truly uncomposed.

But what of this, really? It says much about how narrow Wynn’s view is – or how narrow he hopes yours is – that non-violent protests at the Capitol, including of elected legislators themselves, were somehow shameful.

Over several weeks, hundreds of thousands protested in total, and still more thereafter voted in recall elections, without the sky falling. We’ve become fussy and prissy about these things, worrying needlessly over nothing more than people gathering to speak and carry signs.

American has a long and proud history of protests, and civil disobedience, about which a few only squawk when the protests aren’t to their ideological liking.

Wynn received considerable support from Tea Party groups, and without them he probably wouldn’t have been elected. Those groups were formed in protest; it’s ironic that once in office some of those they’ve helped elect have become among the most squeamish about counter-protests.

There’s you’re challenger-incumbent transformation: from a Tea Partier’s legitimate exercise of protest to an incumbent Republican’s starched shirt of conformity.

Move On, or the Tea Party: I respected these groups more when their advocacy for free speech was more than someone’s calculated means to incumbency.

Democrat, Republican, or Bipartisan? Democrat Jorgensen tells people that he’s a Democrat; Republican Wynn tells you he’s bipartisan. Wynn might consider himself such, but he’s still a Republican. Why not say it? One presumes Wynn is more than uncommitted, uncertain, unaffiliated, or ambivalent. Is it so hard for a Republican to call himself… a Republican?

Unless, perhaps, Wynn thinks that calling himself a Republican is somehow… shameful. Other Republicans in the area running for the Assembly and Senate typically have ‘Republican’ proudly listed on their mailers. There are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, etc. One might just as well say what one is. (It’s just a practical dodge to say that we’ve non-partisan elections – Wisconsin lines up blue and red.)

Funny, about this, too – it’s hard to see how far Wynn’s supposed bipartisanship will take him when he thinks that the biggest political division in the Legislature in the last two years effectively leaves everyone of the opposing party (of which Jorgensen was just one part) as out of control or shameful. So much for a conciliatory spirit.

Tomorrow: A Newsletter for the 43rd.

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jb
9 years ago

I too was disappointed when I received this mailing. While I find myself the past few years siding with the left on many issues, I had always held the view that Wynn was a moderate who was willing to “reach across the isle” to accomplish the work of the people. (The exception here would be during his freshman term when the protests were going on and he voted lock-step with the rest of his party. Admittedly, during that period it would have been difficult – though admirable – for him to oppose his chosen party so early in his term.) Now, however, it seems that he is falling into the pit that so many politicians do: mud-slinging, job-security and politics as usual.