- - Thursday, October 31, 2019

Trick or treat, haunted houses, horror movies — there are plenty of scary things going on this week. But the scariest of them all is thinking about the possibility of socialist Democrats taking over the entire federal government.

First, there is the idea of government-run health care (or the more sanitary title of Medicare for All). Handing over control of our entire health care system to a federal government, which is currently more than $22 trillion in debt and couldn’t get a website up and running for Obamacare years ago, is like handing over control of the 8-0 New England Patriots to the coach of the 0-8 Cincinnati Bengals. It just doesn’t make sense.

Even a few of the “reasonable” Democrats running for president have questioned the wisdom of eliminating private health care coverage for more than 150 million Americans. Sen. Bernie Sanders at least admits that taxes will go up on the middle class under his Medicare for All scheme. Sen. Elizabeth Warren still will not admit the same with her plan.

Then, there is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with her so-called Green New Deal that the presidential candidates fell over themselves to endorse. Even AOC’s former chief of staff admitted the plan was never about protecting the environment but about taking over the economy.

A group led by the former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office argues AOC’s plan could cost somewhere between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over the next decade. In contrast, there are numerous ways to conserve our natural resources without wrecking our economy.

Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders and others have versions of their very own wealth tax. Not only do they want to increase taxes on income, they now want to grab people’s savings. Talk about taking away the incentive to invest in America’s economy. Enacting this plan would be like telling a straight-A student she has to give some of her grades to the other students. Instead of stealing her grades, the better approach is to help the other students study and get good grades of their own.

Then there are the radical ideas coming from former Rep. Robert Francis (“Beto”) O’Rourke. First, he wants a nationwide gun buy-back program. How does the government “buy-back” something it did not own in the first place? He thinks law-abiding citizens are going to freely hand over their firearms. Our Founders wanted to protect our citizens from an oppressive government, as well as enable them to protect themselves, their families and their property from criminals.

Mr. O’Rourke also wants to remove the tax-exempt status for places of worship that do not support same-sex marriage. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled state constitutions and laws which prohibited same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. This means a same-sex couple is legally able to obtain a marriage license anywhere in America. It does not, however, require every church, parish, synagogue, mosque or temple to perform a marriage ceremony with a same-sex couple or even agree with it.

Many of our Founders fled parts of the world where they faced discrimination and even persecution for their religious beliefs. We should not allow that to emerge in our country today.

Equally as concerning are the actions to suppress free speech these days — particularly on college and university campuses across America. The very places where a rigorous discussion and debate over various points of view should be celebrated is often where free speech is most at risk.

Left-wing professors intimidate students, biased textbooks block out alternative views, student “leaders” and staff create lists telling those on campus the words and phrases they dare not speak and conservative voices are either banned or blocked from appearing on campus.

Countering these and other equally frightening ideas will require a passionate explanation of our principles mixed with a positive outlook for the future. Before we get into the details of what we want to do, however, we must explain why.

Years ago, I got so involved with fixing the problems I inherited as governor, I didn’t talk enough about why I was doing what I was doing. Since most politicians talk about problems but rarely fix them, I was obsessed with doing the opposite.

What I learned is that you have to do both. You have to explain why you are doing things and then what you are doing — before, during and after the time you actually do it.

The why is simple: We believe in freedom. Our ultimate goal should be to maximize freedom for every person in our country without minimizing the freedoms of others. These aren’t just my principles. They aren’t just conservative principles. They’re American principles.

To counter the tax-and-spend ideas espoused by socialist Democrats today, I’m all for free stuff — free speech, free practice of religion, free enterprise and ultimately freedom. These ideas are truly free and that is why they are worth fighting for.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.

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