On Jan. 9 Ron Johnson announced, shamelessly, that he is asking for yet another term. After 12 years in Washington, he’s refusing to let go of his global megaphone.
Never mind that six years ago, he promised that if given a second term it would be his last. His “I am not a career politician” and his no-third-term pledge turned out to be deceit, self-serving declarations to be broken when convenient.
Johnson’s global megaphone and deceitfulness can be shut down, but only with a strong pro-democracy turnout on Nov. 8.
Johnson is a self-proclaimed believer in Ayn Rand and the worldview she laid out in “Atlas Shrugged.” It’s simple: Billions of people on Earth are of no value and just take up space. A few geniuses move civilization forward. Government is evil, because all it does is get in the way of the geniuses.
The 2019 onset of the pandemic gave Johnson the perfect opportunity to showcase his malignant worldview. He wasted no time, advocating pushing workers back on the job prematurely and hazardously. To that end was his “Death is a part of life” USA Today editorial early in the pandemic.
Two days later, Johnson took to Real Clear Politics to publish this deadly piece of disinformation: “COVID-19 is transmitted primarily from the hands to the face. … (Workers), train yourself NOT TO TOUCH YOUR FACE.”
How convenient. Business owners were handed Johnson’s life-threatening false information that empowered them to ignore social distancing minimums in their plants and offices. Johnson’s dangerous medical quackery enabled them to blame their workers for resulting illnesses and deaths. Within a month of Johnson’s cruel campaign, more than 4,000 COVID cases and 20 COVID-related deaths were reported among American meatpacking plants alone.
Johnson also raged very publicly against vaccination and used his Senate committee chair powers to promote the pseudo science-backed deworming agent ivermectin.
The climax to Johnson’s war against health and medical science came on Dec. 1, World AIDS day, when, astoundingly, he went after Dr. Anthony Fauci for having “overhyped” the more than 32 million deaths worldwide from COVID-19 and AIDS.
Johnson’s lack of shame allows him to call himself “pro-life” and to post on his website, “As a compassionate society we have an obligation to protect life, especially the life of the most vulnerable among us.”
Imagine this future scenario: It’s January 2023. Sen. Mandela Barnes rises to the U.S. Senate floor declaring that America needs to overhaul its badly broken health care system. Or Sen. Sarah Godlewski is drafting federal tax code changes transferring the tax burden from middle- and working-class voters to those of high income.
Or even: Ron Johnson has been ousted, once and for all, and succeeded by any of the people now campaigning for the Aug. 9 Democratic U.S. Senate nomination on pro-health care, pro-environment, and pro-democracy platforms: Wausau physician Gillian Battino, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, Appleton restaurant owner Kou Lee, Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, or consultant Adam Murphy.
Or that one of these progressives has taken Johnson’s seat: Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, Millennial Action Project founder Steven Olikara, legal, security, and technology consultant Peter Peckarsky, developmentally disabled community advocate Jeff Rumbaugh, or Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs emergency management administrator Darrell Williams.
The blueprint for victory is clear, but it will require energy and a lot of person-to-person networking to carry out. The messaging: If you want America to keep from descending into an autocracy with single-party rule, vote on Nov. 8, and insist that your family members and friends vote.
Republicans will be tossing out red meat to the resentful, using baseless tropes such as, “They’re teaching our kids to hate America.” Wisconsin’s Republican legislators are also working to create burdensome obstacles to voting for any geographic area or demographic group that votes progressive.
Wisconsin has three pre-November elections in 2022 — February, April and August — and they are all valuable opportunities to get ready for the pivotal Nov. 8 races and to foil the Republicans’ anti-democracy campaign.
Johnson is an apologist for the Jan. 6 violent coup, and a spreader of deadly falsehoods about COVID. We can hold him accountable for promoting death in the COVID era, and his pro-violence stance regarding the violent coup last January.
America is not alone in facing the threat of brutal autocracy. In the Philippines, vigilantes receive government blessing to shoot people on sight. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, jailings and killings are used to silence opposition. We must not go down that path.
Let’s make a firm commitment: Come what may, we and those we know who value democracy will march to the polls on Nov. 8, and we will defeat Ron Johnson and his right-wing wrecking crew. ￼