Congressman Mark Green’s Speech to the Republican State Convention
(text supplied by Green for Wisconsin)
Thank you, Governor Thompson. I’m so proud to have your friendship, your advice … and your support.
Twenty years ago, you rescued this state and made us a national leader. You’ve inspired so many of us into public service. I promise you, we will not let you down. Will we?
Scott Walker … thank you … we always said we hoped our friendship would survive this process. I am fortunate to have you on my team, but even more fortunate to have you as a friend.
My family is here with me today. Sue, my wife and partner on so many adventures … UW-Eau Claire, law school, teaching in Africa, the State Assembly and Congress … and, most important, parenthood.
My kids really have a wonderful mom … between soccer games and swim meets, and basketball and piano, Sue Green manages to make it all work … and still have time to listen to me complain about how busy my day was!
Sue grew up on a farm down in Walworth County … where her parents and her brother still farm.
There’s a lot of talk these days about building urban-rural partnerships … about uniting the different parts of our state. Well, Sue and my urban-rural partnership has been going strong for over 20 years.
My three children, Rachel, Anna and Alex … they’re not only great kids, but they provide invaluable advice to me and the campaign. They’ve taught me how to work an iPod … and thanks to them, I know that a TomKat sighting doesn’t refer to a war plan.
Now Anna has a soccer game in a few hours down in Neenah, and if her dad doesn’t go on too long, she just might make it! Don’t worry, we’ll go with the two-hour version … not the three-hour one we practiced last night!
I tell you, I look around this room, and I walk around this convention, and I get a feeling … I get a feeling my friends … it’s been twenty years since we knocked out of office an out-of-touch Democratic governor, and I get a feeling it’s time to do it again!
Are you ready? I hope you are … because – just like 20 years ago – our beloved Wisconsin is sliding down the wrong track.
As I travel this state, I see too many folks worried about our future. Our taxes are too high, our business climate is faltering, our schools are letting down the very families who need them most …
And Jim Doyle, well, he’s nowhere to be found … unless, of course, you can write a big campaign check!
My friends, one of the great things about our state is that we’ve always known who we are, and what we stand for. After all, you say “Wisconsin” and people think: beautiful state … bold ideas … interesting headgear …
Let’s face it: it takes a little self-confidence to walk around with a wedge of cheese on your head – and I am willing to bet that many of you here can pull it off with style.
Cheeseheads with attitude!
But that’s what I mean! We know who we are. We’ve never worried much about what others may think, because we’re usually out in front, leading the way.
That is, until now.
Sure, under Jim Doyle, we’re still leaders, but it’s in taxes, and lawsuits and the loss of good-paying jobs.
We’re here because we can do better! And we will do better!
I believe in the future of this state because I believe in the strength of our people. Our people are good … and strong … and hopeful … and hardworking.
No matter how hard Jim Doyle and his friends are trying to move the state one way … our people will keep trying to move forward.
Republicans, it’s time for us to come to the rescue. It’s time to offer folks leadership that listens … leadership that trusts them … it’s time to make Wisconsin great again.
My friends, it’s time for Jim Doyle to go, and I accept your nomination to show him the door!
We gather here united as Republicans … but we’ll leave here bonded as Wisconsinites … with a clear mission to recapture the Wisconsin spirit.
Under Jim Doyle, even though government may be for sale, our famous “can-do” spirit is not.
Because our people understand what Jim Doyle doesn’t.
Our problem isn’t that we’re under-taxed. It’s not that we’re under-regulated. It’s not that we’re under-sued. It’s just that we’re under-led.
Time after time, issue after issue, the big difference between Jim Doyle and Mark Green is the difference between trusting in government … and trusting in the people.
Ronald Reagan used to say: “Stop putting your faith in the false gods of bureaucracy. Trust the genius of the American people again.”
He was right. As Republicans, we should go with the people every time.
It’s true on taxes. Heck, that’s what the battle over taxes is all about – who can spend your money more wisely. You … or Jim Doyle.
We must stand strong for lowering the tax burden – because it’s robbing families of their dreams and sapping this state of her strength.
Wisconsin’s tax burden is the 7th highest in the country. Our state and local taxes are nearly 10% more than the national average.
Jim Doyle had his chance to help our taxpayers, and he failed.
He failed by vetoing a property tax freeze three times in just three years … and now those taxes have risen another $600 million.
He failed by mismanaging our state budget so badly that we now have one of the worst deficits in the county.
He failed by stealing from our children’s future, and putting his massive spending increases on the taxpayers’ credit card.
He failed because our state’s tax burden is tying an anchor to every entrepreneur, every senior, every graduate, every family. When they find the ladder of opportunity, big government is right there to hold them back and hold them down.
But you and I are going to toss that weight aside – we won’t stand for it any more.
I support constitutional limits on taxes and spending on all levels of government … it’s time we empower taxpayers with the right to simply say, “no more!”
It all boils down to this: I began this campaign with this simple pledge: Elect me as your governor, and Wisconsin’s tax burden will improve, or I won’t run for re-election. I’ll keep my promise … or step aside for someone who will.
To make Wisconsin great again, we must do more than lower our tax burden – we must also ensure that our young people have the education they need and deserve.
There is no challenge more important to me or to our state. And just like taxes, I believe good education policy is a matter of trusting people over special interests.
Under Governor Green, our schools will serve the needs of our families, not just the wish list of WEAC.
Some of you know that Sue and I spent a year as volunteer teachers in Africa just after finishing college. Where we taught, education wasn’t compulsory and it wasn’t free.
In our village, families had to pay a school fee for their children to attend. From time to time, the headmaster would appear in our classrooms and call out the names of the kids who hadn’t paid, and they would have to leave. It was a heartbreaking thing to watch … but then something inspiring would happen … the same children who were removed from the classroom actually would quietly sneak back in.
They were desperate to learn … all of our kids want to learn. I believe there is an innate desire in young people to learn. Unleashing their potential should be the goal of our schools – not just protecting tenure and fringe benefits for employees.
Education funding will always be a top priority, but we’ll also demand accountability. Good teachers, and there are lots of them, should have their pay based on merit – not on how long they occupy a chair.
And our education dollars should actually reach our classrooms – not get lost in the bureaucracy.
A few months back, I met a great lady in Milwaukee who said to me, “Mark, you know when you see that shiny banner at a school that says ‘No Child Left Behind?’ Well, they’ve been leaving my kids behind for years.”
I know there are some out there who would wish away our education challenges, or sweep them under the rug. That won’t happen on my watch. We’re going to stand with and for that mother I met.
In Milwaukee Public Schools, only about one of out three African American children will graduate. And Wisconsin’s achievement gap between white and minority students is among the worst in the nation.
Jim Doyle is standing in the schoolhouse door, blocking thousands of families from their dreams. But you and I are going to kick the door in.
We’ll support charters, we’ll support choice and we’ll support home schooling … and we’ll never settle for second best when it comes to our kids’ education.
And the same must be true for our University of Wisconsin. Sue and I are proud – so proud – to be alums of the UW system. But I worry that it’s losing its way.
Under this administration, the UW has been so wrapped up in red tape and bureaucratic maneuvers that they’ve actually been hiring convicted sex offenders, shelling out $700-a-month car stipends, creating hundreds of high-paying “back up” jobs … even jacking up tuition for Wisconsin families while slashing out-of-state tuition at the very same time.
We are headed toward an era when anyone can go to the UW – unless you’re actually from Wisconsin.
And the very people Jim Doyle put in charge of the university can’t understand why everyone is so worked up.
“But you don’t understand,” they exclaim in a patronizing tone. But we do.
While they defend turf, and programs, and perks, we defend students … and we’ll fight for their interests and their dreams.
It’s the same old story. Over and over again, Jim Doyle seems to confuse moving Wisconsin forward with moving it toward his friends.
He seems to confuse creating jobs for families with creating jobs for trial lawyers.
He seems to confuse investing in our children with investing in the WEAC agenda.
Jim Doyle is so addicted … he’s so addicted … to special interest cash that when I asked him to agree to run a clean campaign and limit spending to $1 per Wisconsinite – that’s five and a half million dollars – he wanted no part of it.
He’s selling the soul of our state, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore! Are we?
My friends, fellow Republicans, it’s time for us to go to work. It’s time for us to remember our principles … to remember the lessons of Lincoln and Reagan and Tommy Thompson.
It’s time for us to boldly take the lead. Our state motto is “Forward,” not “let’s see what the bureaucrats or special interest contributors have to say.”
Remember, our state capital is named for James Madison, the Founding Father who wrote this of our newborn nation: “yes, this is new … yes, this has never been tried … many things Americans have done have never been tried before.”
At a time when every new toothpaste is hailed as “revolutionary,” it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the word … but what those early Americans were trying was exactly that, revolutionary.
The unprecedented idea that ordinary people could govern themselves.
That was it. That was the nugget that electrified the world, and set history on a whole new course.
The early settlers in Wisconsin were fired by that idea … and they were followed by wave after wave from across the sea, all stirred by visions of a new and better life in this new and revolutionary world.
They were Norwegians and Germans and Irish and others. They brought us their beer and sausage and cheese, their love of the outdoors.
As one writer put it, they also brought us “ideas and influences from [an] aroused Old World.” Notions that nourished and invigorated their new homeland.
They gave birth to a new political party called the Republicans, a new social experiment called kindergarten, a new movement to create a genuinely popular, democratic and progressive model of government – government that responded to the people, not well-funded interests.
Of all the states, it was only in Wisconsin that all of these influences came together and took root, and led President Theodore Roosevelt to call us “a pioneer blazing the way [for] America.”
Decades later, another leader appeared on the scene, again spouting “new” and “radical” ideas about welfare reform and education and economic growth.
Tommy Thompson and his ideas succeeded not only in reforming and rejuvenating Wisconsin herself, but making the Badger State a challenge for the rest of the nation to follow.
Tommy’s ideas took hold and took flight because they were firmly rooted in who we are.
What a difference a few years makes …
Jim Doyle and his crew say they want to keep Wisconsin moving forward, but they just can’t seem to grasp the fundamentals of what makes us different … what makes us special … what makes us Wisconsin.
They’re stuck in the Madison mindset of minutiae and maneuvering.
Just look at the choices the Doyle crew has made:
Allowing state employees to donate their own money to faith-based groups through the state’s charitable giving program? That’s a no-no.
But the university using its limited funds to launch a class called “Vampires in Literature and Film?” No problem with that.
A student RA holding a Bible study in the privacy of his own dorm room? Heaven forbid.
But taking millions in contributions and then giving out permanent gaming compacts. That doesn’t smell bad at all!
Allowing schools to refuse to hire convicted felons? You’ve got to be crazy.
But letting a cop killer out of prison? Why not.
Allowing family piers with more than two boats? How could you!
But in-state tuition and home loans for illegal immigrants? They don’t see a problem there.
Their disdain for our everyday beliefs and values is astonishing!
You are going to hear a lot from me in the coming months about what I think is wrong about the Doyle administration … but it comes directly from a deep-seated belief in what is right about Wisconsin.
I believe we need to respect and fight for the values that made us what we are. Values like faith and family, hard work, love of country, devotion to the outdoor life.
I believe that family is central to a healthy society, and marriage should be clearly defined.
I believe human life is a gift from God, and it deserves our protection.
I believe we should invest in finding cures to diseases that are robbing families of their loved ones – and we can do that without leaving our moral compass behind.
I believe sex offenders belong in prison, not in our neighborhoods.
I believe immigration has enriched the soul of this state. My own parents are immigrants, and I am proud to be a first-generation American.
As governor, I will always welcome legal immigrants, and I will work to honor them by stemming the tide of illegal immigration.
I believe we need to break down unnecessary barriers that hurt faith-based organizations as they work to lift lives and heal neighborhoods.
I believe democracy is rooted in the principle that every citizen should have his vote counted, but only once. And I promise you, 2006 will be the last time you can vote without an ID!
My friends, we will run with an agenda this is not only worthy of election, but worthy of Wisconsin.
I want to tap into the strength and character and ingenuity of our people.
I want us thinking big again – not big government – but big ideas, big dreams.
And like the people I hope to serve, I’m not one to shrink from a challenge.
Most people don’t know this, but for much of my life, I competed in swimming. Now, even my own father has said I wasn’t the most gifted of athletes, or even the most gifted of swimmers [by the way, thanks Dad].
But he always knew I had the drive and the discipline to be the best that I could be – which was an All-American, three times.
Let me tell you, a January morning in Green Bay or on the UW-Eau Claire campus is a mighty cold, dark and forbidding thing to behold … where the idea of staying under the blankets is a lot more enticing than jumping into that pool.
But if you have a goal in sight and a plan to get you there – well, then you plunge right in and you get it done.
You don’t just dip your toe in and wait to see what the trial lawyers have to say.
I am plunging myself into this campaign, body and soul, because I truly believe we need to get Wisconsin moving back in the right direction … back to where people are in charge, not special interests.
I’ve already mentioned that my parents are immigrants. My mom is from England; my dad was raised in South Africa.
I was fortunate enough to have been born in this country, in Boston, when my dad was doing a residency. But soon after that, our family moved to Australia, where my father taught medicine for a couple of years.
Then one day, he gets a letter from a friend – the only American he really knew – who asks my dad if he would help develop a clinic in a place called Green Bay.
Well, my father had never heard of Green Bay. But he came, and he helped build that clinic, and he never left.
My brothers and I got to grow up in Green Bay … we got to grow up fishing and camping, living and dying with the Packers, sucking down sweet corn and … well, you get the picture.
A few years ago I asked my dad, I said “here you are, a guy living in Australia, born in South Africa, arriving in Green Bay in November, and yet you decided to stay. Why?”
And he said, “because everything a family could ask for is right here in Wisconsin.”
And that, my friends, is what this campaign is about.
It is about building a brighter future.
A future where my family – my beautiful wife, Sue, my kids Rachel, Anna, and Alex – where my family, and your family, and every family in Wisconsin can have that good job, own a nice home, enjoy the beauty of our state and afford to stay here to watch the next generation achieve even greater things.
A future where once again we have the confidence to aim high, think big and make a difference … all the while never forgetting who we are and what we stand for.
A future where all of us move forward together, sure in the knowledge that we are different … we are special … we are Wisconsin!
Thank you very much. I’m honored to be your nominee. God bless you all, and God bless the great state of Wisconsin!