Bramnick has a message. Will NJ Republicans follow?

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick recently released this most excellent video.  Bramnick starts by detailing what Republicans are against

But then, more importantly, Bramnick lays out three solid policy positions that points New Jersey Republicans in the direction of what we should be for

(1) Cap State Spending at 2% (just like local government spending is capped).

(2) Cut the State Income Tax by 10% (make NJ more competitive w. other states).

(3) Full Deduction of Property Taxes on the State Income Tax (a move that takes the property tax issue away from Democrats like Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Josh Gottheimer).

In the video, Bramnick is engaging, folksy, and compelling.  So finally, here is the core of something to move the Republican Party forward.  So why isn’t everyone banging the same drum? 

Two days after Bramnick’s video went up on Youtube, the NJGOP – the State Republican Party – blasted out its weekly newsletter via email.  There was some very good stuff in there.  Unfortunately, the Assembly Republican Leader’s video was not part of the newsletter.  An oversight that should be corrected at the earliest opportunity. 

On Thursday, the Garden State Initiative – a free-market, pro-business think tank – held a meeting about the state of New Jersey’s economy and how it can be improved.  All the experts present agreed that the business climate went south after the Democrats gained control over the Legislature, nearly two decades ago.

That said, the most prominent plan for recovery featured at the gathering was the one put forward by Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat and so a leader in the party responsible for the downturn in the first place.  As with legislation protecting the Bill of Rights (specifically the 2nd Amendment) and culturally traditionalist social legislation (like the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Protection Act), the Senate President will always be handicapped in how much he can accomplish by his need to appease the far-Left of his party’s caucus.  In the end, Sweeney will go as far as Leftist Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg allows him to go – and is anyone under the illusion that this Marxist-lite fellow-traveler is pro-business or pro-taxpayer?

In a column published on his Save Jersey news website, Matt Rooney brilliantly dissected the Trenton Democrats last week…  

We hear a lot about the “working class” from Trenton, but each and every policy and budget are designed to put the screws to taxpayers in favor of keeping these rich guys and their power structures chugging right along.

What I’m saying is that Democrats’ lofty rhetoric doesn’t match their reality. On either side of this fight. New Jersey’s true form of government is a blend of socialism and oligarchy (with a sprinkle of kleptocracy for good measure).

So why aren’t pro-business and pro-taxpayer forces pushing the Republican Plan put forward by Bramnick and making its three points the basis of not only the recovery of our party’s fortunes, but those of the state’s taxpayers?  Why aren’t they pulling together behind the Bramnick plan, then building on it, to tackle the obvious divide between the haves (those municipalities who bathe in money, courtesy of the Abbott decision) and the have nots (those who pay the highest property taxes in America)?   

As New Jersey 101.5’s Dennis Malloy recently noted, the public frustration over property taxes and government in the Garden State is stifling:  “Being the state with the highest property taxes in the nation used to be the number one issue in almost any campaign for public office in New Jersey. Lately, (crickets)! Why? …most people have given up hope that it will ever be normal or fair or affordable to most people. There is no one on the horizon with the guts to be honest about it and promise to fix it…” 

And yet, in the midst of this frustration, there are thousands of brave souls who are spending their time and energy – both in and outside social media – to address the oppression of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers.  Too often, they find themselves on their own, without the assistance or direction from the Republican Party, the business community, or even established figures within the state’s conservative movement. 

Take the grassroots effort to Recall Governor Phil Murphy, as an example.  This effort is in the process of training hundreds of volunteers in the basics of one-on-one political outreach that could be harvested in future GOTV operations.  But is anyone providing them with any real assistance?  Listen to this appeal from one of the most effective recall leaders, Bill Hayden of Sussex County:

In May 1940, the allied armies of France, Great Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands faced the threat posed by a newly re-armed Germany.  One of the great myths about the Fall of France is that the Germans had more tanks.  They did not.  In numbers, weaponry, and armor-protection, the German tanks were outclassed by those of the French Army and its allies.  So why did the Germans so easily over-power the superior tanks of the French?

The French used their tanks piecemeal and fought actions individually.  Many were not even equipped with radios.  The Germans fought coordinated actions, in which not only individual tanks within a unit fought in support of each other, but entire units worked in concert with other units to achieve a particular goal.  It wasn’t hardware that won the battle, but tactics – how the hardware was used. 

The three major units of New Jersey’s Republican Party – the State Committee (NJGOP), the Senate Republican Majority (SRM), and the Assembly Republican Victory (ARV) – do not work in concert or present a unified message or vision.  From there is gets worse.  Each county, each candidate, each club marches to its own beat.  And the party is barely on speaking terms with the movement conservatives who make up its base and constitute its most loyal voters.  Working together could amplify a message and make it punch through to distracted voters.  But instead of amplification, we have a cacophony of murmurs, each from its own silo.   

Jon Bramnick has offered a simple, three-point way forward.  Everyone should amplify it.  That would make a start at working in concert.

At Thursday’s meeting, Garden State Initiative President Regina Egea said voters should ask every politician how they intend to lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business.  The Bramnick Plan provides the answers.

Dawn Addiego exchanges one machine for another.

Dawn Marie Addiego has always been a cosseted politician.  Depending on others to lay out a path for her.  To brush the impediments from her way.

Hence, from her earliest days she was attracted to establishment politicians and powerful political machines.  The old Burlco GOP machine of Glenn Paulsen worked for her – and in return for her exact fealty and obedience she rose through its ranks.  Now, with the patrimony of Paulsen squandered by others, the Senator set adrift, she has looked for and found a new powerful political machine to protect her.

Engaging, charming, tough – but pleasant – her insecurities have led her to changing one party for another.  Of course, her attempt to define her switch as maintaining some core affinity for the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan is total nonsense.  As Senator Addiego well knows, she has never been comfortable with the Republican electorate and the political platform of the national Republican Party… not since Ronald Reagan changed it in 1980.  In this, she has remained in lockstep with the establishment GOP in Burlington County.

Lacking a Republican message – unable to embrace, motivate, and lead Republicans and those who are open to voting for Republicans – Senator Addiego reasoned that she had no choice but to become a Democrat.  Now she should look to the fate of Arlen Specter and know that she may be called to account, like Specter was, by the “purer” elements within her new party.  Her hope must be that powerful men will protect her.  Her faith… must look to her new bosses.

Some weeks ago, we explained how both major parties are really each three separate parties all occupying the same space and seeking to speak for the same “brand”. 

(1) There is the broad “party” defined by formal “membership” (voter registration, etc.), self-identification, or electoral support.  These people have some idea of what the party brand means and they like candidates to adhere to it.  They like to get what they think they are voting for.

(2) Next is the activist base.  These people are motivated by a particular issue or set of issues (or by a candidate who serves as the vessel for such).  Some organize themselves to great effectiveness.  Many are organized permanently and have established themselves as genuine powers.  Others can be motivated in the right season, on a case by case basis.  The most successful are able to create enough activity to earn a living from their activism (essentially, they are paid for their leadership).

(3) Finally we have the “professional” party – the regulars.  Broadly speaking, they are paid or make money from politics, whether as attorneys, vendors, lobbyists, elected officials, appointed officials, patronage employees, political consultants, legislative staff, and such.  They are transactional and make money through or directly from politics – that is the big difference between them and the broader party. 

The story of Dawn Marie Addiego wouldn’t be complete without an exposition of the role played by this “professional” party – and its corruption.

Leave it to David “Wally Edge” Wildstein to annotate the role played by lobbyist Jeff Michaels… once a captain in the regime of Republican Senate President Donnie DiFrancesco, now part of the far-flung empire of Democrat Party boss George Norcross.  According to Wildstein, editor at the New Jersey Globe, Michaels played a key role in negotiating Addiego’s party switch.

Those of us who remember the young Jeff Michaels – then a stalwart Republican, YAFer, and religious conservative – will sadly recall when he left being a legislative staffer for a lobbying gig that led him down the path of… money.  We lost a great compatriot and mammon gained a very effective advocate.  Of course, such is the world. 

We wonder what will become of District 8 Chief of Staff Rick England, a lieutenant in the DiFrancesco operation, who once answered to Michaels.  Will he follow his Senator?  Rick ran the District 8 office and controlled it very closely.  He knows the sins of all he served which, given the circumstances, could be of benefit to the Assembly Democrats this year… or SRM in 2021.  So in thrall was Senator Addiego to her handler that she refused to meet with a bi-partisan delegation of religious leaders regarding the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act, simply because Rick would not sign off on it.  Such is the power he held at the District 8 Legislative Office.

So we can see how the concerns of each of these three separate parties all occupying the same space and seeking to speak for the same “brand” can be very different.  While the first two want candidates who will represent some set of principles, the concerns of the “professional” party can often come down to… dough-re-me. 

At the “professional” party level, this can lead to a certain “blending” of the two major parties.  And that, of course, leads to an estrangement from the base.

If the NJGOP is to survive then the “spinning” must stop

Putting the best face on a defeat is the oldest spin in politics.  The practice is ancient…

Rather than spend time trying to convince people that defeat is really victory, learn from history and discard what failed and embrace a new message.  After Watergate, Republicans embraced the message of Reagan conservatism and came roaring back at the 1980 elections – taking both the White House and the Senate.  After Democrat Bill Clinton defeated the “kinder-gentler” GOP brand of George H.W. Bush, Republicans adopted the conservative Contract with America – ending 40 years of uninterrupted Democratic control of the House of Representatives and capturing the Senate.  The populist “Tea Party” message of 2010 saw Republicans gain 63 seats to take back control of the House.  In 2014, that message completed the takeover of Congress, gaining 9 Senate seats and another 13 House seats.  And in 2016, a populist Republican took the White House in an upset that caught the professional political class of both parties by surprise. 

Nationally, and at the state and local levels, Republicans need to embrace the setbacks of 2018 and learn from them.  These lessons are clear: 

(1) Money doesn’t replace message. 

(2) Technology is a means to convey a message, not a replacement for having a message. 

(3) In the era of Trump, trying to out-liberal the Democrats is a fool’s errand. 

(4) Turnout is key and that means registering every person who would likely vote Republican and then motivating them to vote.

(5) Your message should maximize your vote without turning off your base.  Better still, find a message that excites your base while adding to it.

At present, the man with the ideas – the man leading the charge to put New Jersey back on the right economic footing – the man standing in the way of the more crazier notions of Governor Murphy’s Democratic Socialism, is in fact not a Republican at all, but a Democrat.  Senate President Steve Sweeney is calling out the Governor, challenging him to debate their contrasting ideas. 

Republicans should be challenging Governor Murphy to debates, leading with ideas and a clear message that contrasts with Murphy’s Wall Street-style social activism.  And if they can’t manage to come up with ideas of their own, then they should at least be prepared to add their united voice in support of the man who has taken on the task of challenging Murphy’s crazier instincts.

Politically, New Jersey Republicans need a message, with fully fleshed out ideas and solutions.  There are people already at work on this.  The Garden State Initiative – run by state government veteran Regina Egea – is producing a solid product of facts and stats that could back up a message… if the political will is there.  It’s up to the folks who run campaigns and the party’s leadership to take the next step.

Empower NJ = No Jobs for Blue-collar Working People

Here is the  message from groups like Posh People over Pipeline workers, the Bergen Green Faith Circle, Food & Water Watch, the Wood Stove Heating and Cooking Coalition, Roseland Against the Compressor Station (put it somewhere else!), Don’t Heat the Meadowlands Coalition, Blue Wave, the Dunghill Alliance, People of Faith/Without Faith, Citizen Action, Watersports, and

Climate Mama…

Hey Operating Engineers… screw you!

Hey Laborers… screw you! 

Hey Steam Fitters… screw you!

Hey Pipe-Fitters… screw you!

And the list goes on and on.  Any trade union worker who has anything to do laying underground pipe or the plants and facilities it serves has just been flipped the bird by the One Percenters and their mouthpieces in the so-called environmental movement.

When you understand where they live and what they do for a living, you will get the joke about some of these so-called environmentalists.  “Trust fund” isn’t a job description.  Neither is “spouse of a banker” or “of a Wall Streeter” or “of a corporate lawyer”.  You don’t break a sweat running a non-profit.  Living in bubble land and having a lot of free time on your hands doesn’t qualify you to be an expert on the economic fallout of your thoughts and whimseys. 

A former Governor of Colorado – a Democrat – had it right when he called bullshit on the direction that the environmental movement was heading when it refused to recognize that more people equaled less green areas, less farms, less forests and fields – and more of the crap heros like Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold started the movement to oppose.  If the founders of the environmental movement came back today and saw what was being done in their name – trees chopped down and fields turned into solar panel farms – they’d never stop throwing up.

Every group involved in the Empower NJ – Stop Fossil Fuels Campaign is in favor of shoehorning more and more people into New Jersey – the most densely populated state in America.  That’s right, New Jersey has 1,210 people per square mile; followed by Rhode Island with 1,022 people per square mile; then Massachusetts with 871 people per square mile; and Connecticut with 742 people per square mile. 

And guess what??? Governor Phil Murphy just put out a “come and get some” sign to the entire world with his Sanctuary State program, special status for criminals, free legal counsel, free health care, education, subsidized college, and a plethora of other free and subsidized stuff.  Just wait until they need to unsave that farmland to make way for more subsidized housing… hey, you can’t ask people to come here illegally and then leave them in the streets.  When you invite people in you have the duty, as a good host, to make sure they are comfortable.

Every group involved with Empower NJ is happy to clear-cut every last scrap of green space in the state in order to conform to fashionable opinions regarding illegal immigration, but when it comes to working people of all colors, genders, and ethnicities – they are as one – and with a unified voice Empower NJ says “screw them”!  That’s because the people who run Empower NJ have nothing to do with the woods.  They live in fey, gentrified urban enclaves playing on their phones, sucking down lattes, and complaining that real woodland folk are “trailer trash” who just don’t get it. 

Yep, working people just don’t understand that they are supposed to sacrifice their means to life and their families to the fashion statements of the One Percent and the pet causes they fund.  But you know how fashion is when it comes to people as powerful as the One Percent are… today’s fashions are tomorrow’s laws.