- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The 2012 presidential election is a clash of ideologies. In this battle between big-government liberalism and market-based conservatism, the leftist media frequently criticizes Republican initiatives as risky and untried. Nothing could be further from the truth. Across the nation, there are conservative governors who have used statehouses as laboratories of democracy to successfully enact cutting-edge reform.

Union-busting: Wisconsin’s public-sector unions took on the law, and the law won. Gov. Scott Walker’s rewriting of collective-bargaining rules sets an example for the country that labor bosses and gold-plated retirement benefits for bureaucrats can’t trump fiscal responsibility.

Welfare drug tests: Florida Gov. Rick Scott has pushed many creative ideas in the Sunshine State, but it was his brass knuckles in muscling through mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients that stands as his most popular accomplishment, enjoying 70-80 percent support. Preventing public assistance from subsidizing somebody’s crack habit is a common-sense law every state should have.

Spending cuts: In this era of $16 trillion in federal debt, there’s a lot to be said for good, old-fashioned green-eyeshade accounting, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is an accountant and former Fortune 500 CEO. At the helm of one of the Rust Belt states hardest-hit by the Obama Great Recession, Mr. Snyder’s budget cuts erased a $1.5 billion deficit, while business tax cuts led to reinvestment that has relieved massive unemployment from auto-industry downsizing. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, formerly chairman of the House Budget Committee in the heady days following the 1994 conservative takeover of Congress, closed an $8 billion hole to balance the Buckeye State’s budget deficit.


Education: U.S. schools have gotten so bad that millions of high-school graduates don’t even know who America’s enemies were in World War II. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has done the unthinkable in public education by taking on the teacher unions to bust up a counterproductive tenure system that protected mediocrity and stifled creativity. U.S. students won’t stop getting dumber until other districts are enabled to fire ineffective teachers like Mr. Christie has made possible in the Garden State.

Voter identification: Mitt Romney is winning the white vote, which is 75 percent of the electorate, including the white women’s vote. The Obama administration is soft on border protection and resisting state efforts to fight voter fraud because to win, Democrats need to maximize the number of recent immigrants — including illegal aliens — participating in elections. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a forward-thinking Voter ID law that protects the integrity of the ballot box.

This is just a taster’s menu of the smorgasbord of reform being pushed by conservative governors committed to innovative, solutions-oriented legislation to address America’s myriad ills. The deep bench of executive talent today is reminiscent of governors such as Michigan’s John Engler, Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson, Florida’s Jeb Bush and Virginia’s Jim Gilmore and George Allen who led national reform from state capitals starting in the 1990s. Then and now, the governors’ message is consistent: Government is more often the problem than the solution.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).