Ron Johnson. It’s a name you know you’re supposed to recognize: it means something to you, somewhere, floating in the back of your head. It has some importance in your life, or it should, and you struggle to piece together who that guy was anyways. Then you remember: Ah. He’s my senator. He’s one of the hundred most powerful people in our federal government, and I know almost nothing about him. I thought for a moment he was a character on a TV show, or some guy I knew in high school. But he’s not: He is the man that’s supposed to represent your hopes and dreams in congress, your aspirations, and your politics. He’s supposed to be working for you.
The reason that you don’t remember Johnson is because he doesn’t remember you. In his term, Johnson has done, for all intents and purposes, nothing. He doesn’t headline discussions, he’s not a leader, and he has failed at every turn to fight for legislation that would aid the people of Wisconsin. That lack of activity-that void of doing anything worthwhile-is most likely why 40% of Wisconsinites, according to the most recent public poll, don’t know him or his policies well enough to have an opinion on them. He’s a drifter in the background of our minds: a person holding an immense capability for good that we think might be a basketball player or an old country singer, maybe. Is he that guy that did that one thing at that one place during that other thing? Nope. He’s your senator and he’s not working for you.
Unlike the enigma of Johnson, though, we all know who Tammy Baldwin is. She’s clear on her stances, upfront about her goals, and actually takes the time to do her job. She drafts legislation, cosponsors bills, and publicizes. With only two years of senator time, she has impacted more in Wisconsin and the nation than Johnson has in his four years. Half the time, but much greater impact.
Now, somehow, even though he’s virtually invisible in Wisconsin, Johnson ends up on the news fairly often. It never is for good reasons, though. Recently, Johnson decided it would be in our best interests to sue the Obama administration over the ACA. He’s attacking the section which allows the federal government to pay for a portion of its employees’ health insurance, ignoring the fact that most other federal workers and people with private sector insurance have a chunk paid for by their employers.
He is also one of the infamous three that voted against a bill to provide more funding to the VA. The bill included measures to hire more staff for VA hospitals, and allows the VA to contract with private medical facilities. At a time when veterans are experiencing long waits for medical treatment, Johnson voted against a bill to help them get the care they need.
Not only did he support Ted Cruz in the disastrous government shutdown, but he also attacked Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi investigation. I personally watched as our state’s senator was made to look like an idiot when Clinton took his accusations and ripped them to shreds with logic and reason.
One of the most disturbing events is when Ron Johnson speaks out on immigration reform. Recently, the Senator commented, “I can’t think of a more humane thing to do — even though it maybe sounds a little cruel,” he said. “The most compassionate thing to do would be to send planeloads full of those children back to their parents in a safe manner, in as humane a fashion as possible, so that they don’t subject their kids to that very dangerous journey where they’re getting raped and they’re getting killed.”
There’s nothing that helps people or our reputation than mass deportation. It’s foolproof: just toss the kids into a C-47 and parachute them out over Mexico City. Hey, we wouldn’t have to do anything from there, right? It’s not like we would be paying for thousands of plane tickets, or creating a bureau of relocation, or just be abandoning children in a country where we actually don’t know where their parents are. Honestly, if that is the most humane thing Sen. Johnson can think of, he really needs to take an ethics class.
But that is Ron Johnson. A man who described the next election as a win-win scenario because he misses his old life, and would be happy to go back to it. I say we let him. Send the man home, since he clearly doesn’t want to be a Senator, and hasn’t shown the people of Wisconsin he even knows how. It may be a win-win for him: but it’s not for Wisconsin. We deserve a Senator that fights for us, that serves us, and that cares enough about his job to not say losing would be almost preferable. We deserve a Senator worth remembering.
Griff Tatarsky and Sergio Juwa are both interns at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and undergraduate students attending UW-Madison.