It's official. Four days after I dedicate 1000 words to the declared candidates for U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson, an Oshkosh businessman, changes the game by declaring himself a candidate for the GOP nomination.
Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson formally entered the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate this morning his first attempt at any elected office saying he was inspired to run in an effort to stop national health care.
"To me, nationalized health care is a real assault on our freedom," Johnson said at a Milwaukee news conference, surrounded by family.
Without a free market system, he said, "We won't have the advances in medicine that we have had in the past; we won't have the advances in life-saving drugs. To me, that was the real trigger."
Frankly, Johnson's rhetoric is better than that of most of his GOP competitors. The Republican talking points on health care have become so predictable and vapid that it's refreshing to hear a candidate discuss the issue without vaguely referring to "government bureaucrats."
Nevertheless, his reasoning is disingenuous in terms of policy and politics. Policy-wise, it's curious that he seems to believe that the system we had in place before health care reform represented the "free market." A system that restricts health care by state, favors employers over individuals, prevents consumers from buying imported drugs from Canada and subsidizes large portions of the population (the poor and elderly), is not free market by any stretch of the definition. The Obama health care plan is simply an extension of that system, with more money going to insurance companies.
If Johnson is willing to state that he supports abolishing Medicare, Medicaid, as well as all other restrictions written by the health care industry, then maybe he can call himself a free market candidate. But I am guessing that is not the case:
Although he calls himself a lifelong conservative, Johnson said he's not into "labeling" and "hopes to reach out to everybody." He said, for example, that as a small business owner, he's not against all government regulation.
Nevertheless, his argument is misleading politically. The notion that his motivation for running is to repeal Obama's health care plan is absurd. Even Republican leaders have acknowledged that a GOP majority won't be able to accomplish that because the president will veto it. Maybe there will be a Republican president in three years, but even if that is the case, it is highly unlikely that the GOP will take the initiative to take health care away from millions of the newly insured, as well as take customers away from the insurance companies who benefitted from their money.
So what is Ron Johnson running to do? He's running to be a member of the U.S. Senate, just like the rest of them. My first impression, however, is that he has as good a chance as anybody. He might be a little green politically, but the only competitor with political experience, Leinenkugel, will have a hard time convincing voters he's really a Republican.
Johnson won't have that problem. In fact, although all the declared candidate were at last month's Tea Party rally (maybe not Leinenkugel), he was the only one who spoke. He gave an okay speech, a feat Terrence Wall is allegedly incapable of.