Excerpted from Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge by Governor Scott Walker and Marc Theissan, in agreement with Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright (c) Scott Walker and Marc Theissan, 2013.
"If It Can Happen in Wisconsin, It Can Happen Anywhere"
If you are like me, the view from Washington, D. C., these days is pretty grim. Barack Obama has been elected to a second term. Obamacare will not be repealed anytime soon. Congress has approved massive tax increases. The national debt is on track to double during Obama's presidency. We are experiencing the worst economic recovery America has ever had.1 Family income has plummeted, and more than three quarters of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck.2 Over twenty million Americans still cannot find work or have simply given up trying.
And the Congressional Budget Office projects that we won't return to full employment until the end of 20173—a year after President Obama leaves office.
Worse, a recent study by Rutgers University found that six in ten Americans believe that the nation's economy has "undergone a permanent change" and that today's dismal economic situation is the "new normal."4 Think about that: Our citizens are poorer, our debt is larger, our growth is slower, and our people are less hopeful than at any time in recent memory—and a majority of Americans have come to expect and accept this sorry situation as "normal."
Yet President Obama has laid out a second term agenda that doubles down on the failures of his first. And Republicans are being warned that they should not even try to stop him. The GOP, we are told, is increasingly out of touch with the American people. Our once center-right country is moving center-left. We are told that the only way for Republicans to avoid electoral annihilation is to stop opposing President Obama, abandon our conservative principles, and make peace with big government.
Depressed yet? Don't be.
Things may look hopeless in Washington, D. C., but from where I sit in Wisconsin, the view is decidedly more hopeful and optimistic. Here is a little-reported fact: Outside the Washington beltway, big-government liberals are on the ropes, while conservative reformers are winning elections and policy battles in state houses all across the country. Consider some encouraging data:
• At the time of this writing, not one incumbent GOP governor has lost a general election since 2007.
• Quite the opposite: In the last four years, Republicans have picked up governorships from Democrats in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Maine, and in Wisconsin.
• The number of GOP governors has risen since 2008 from twenty-one to thirty—just four short of the all-time high of thirty-four Republican governors in the 1920s.
• When Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, Republicans held just 3,220 seats in state legislatures across the country. Today, two election cycles later, the number is 3,826—a net gain of 606 seats.
• In the 2012 elections, when President Obama was overwhelmingly elected to a second term, Republicans saw net gains in thirty-four legislative chambers, including chambers in nine states won by President Obama: Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.