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December 7th, 2009

Vander Plaats: Confrontational Conservatism Is Not Confusing

Bob lakeWritten by Bob Vander Plaats, Republican Candidate for Governor

I applaud the American Future Fund for their recent radio ad criticizing United States Senator Ben Nelson for casting the deciding vote to advance the federal government’s takeover of our health care. Should this Congress succeed in socializing medicine, and the corresponding segment of our nation’s economy, Ben Nelson’s vote will go down in history as the proverbial “tipping point” that allowed it to happen.

The American Future Fund obviously shares my perspective concerning Senator Nelson’s vote. During the 2000 election, many conservatives envisioned the perilous political philosophy Mr. Nelson would personify if elected to his current post. I recently revisited the 2000 campaign and former Iowa Governor, Terry Branstad’s endorsement of Nelson. He not only endorsed, but financially supported Ben Nelson during his first run for Senate. My press release dated Nov. 23 concerning Branstad’s endorsement of Nelson is available on-line.

The point is that Senator Nelson would never have had the opportunity to cast his deciding vote if not for his close victory in November 2000. Thus, the people promoting and supporting his victory undoubtedly share some of the blame for Nelson advancing government run health care … that includes Terry Branstad. His endorsement and financial support was no small matter in Nelson’s election. As anyone running for office understands, we cannot win on our own. Successful campaigns are a team effort!

A closer look at the American Future Fund (AFF) and their current ads reveals, at a minimum, some confusion. The very people who are behind AFF and this ad attacking Senator Nelson are closely aligned with Terry Branstad. In fact, Branstad has served as the Chairman of the American Future Fund “Conservative Lecture Series.” Sandy Greiner, the chairman of the “Draft Branstad” effort is the current president of the American Future Fund. Former American Future Fund’s spokesman, Tim Albrecht, now serves as the communications director for Terry Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign.

Former AFF spokesman and current Branstad communications director Albrecht told Radio Iowa that Republicans ought to study Reagan’s 11th Commandment and not Terry Branstad’s connection to the most recent health care vote. Even though the organization he and Branstad have strong ties to apparently agrees with me that Nelson’s vote was bad for the country, he is evidently unwilling to address the responsibility his current employer bears for helping Nelson get elected. Instead of admitting that Branstad owes the nation an apology, he attempted to deflect the criticism by saying “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” It is my belief that speaking truth is not speaking ill. However, framing truth with only partial facts is being less than honest which has become known to many of us as “politics as usual.”

The political environment of 2010 is much different than the ones Branstad once knew. In recent cycles, we’ve seen a rise in public awareness and involvement. “We the people” are tired of the games and gimmicks that politicians have used to convince us to give them political power.

The people who make up the current political environment are moms and dads, small business owners, teachers, and contractors – individual patriots of all stripes. They are not as concerned about political affiliation or defining labels as they are about liberty and leadership. This patriotic segment of everyday Iowans and Americans received a defining label of their own during a recent interview with candidate Branstad when he remarked that a “confrontational right” has developed since his last run for office.

Terry is correct with his terminology. The “confrontational right,” as he calls them, are concerned about their elected leaders doing what is “right.” They are more concerned about finding leaders who will do the right thing than helping one political party or the other to win an election. They have taken the “we the people” part of the constitution to heart and are willing to be confrontational, very confrontational if necessary, to see that their leaders do what is right.

That is why the 2000 Ben Nelson endorsement matters so much. It wasn’t right. And now, the health of every American could be at risk because of it.

That is also why it mattered when Branstad raised the sales tax. That is why legalizing gambling mattered. That is why Branstad’s willingness to double the size of state government while Iowa’s population remained stagnant mattered. That is why keeping two sets of books mattered. That is why opening the door for the state’s lottery, pari-mutuel betting and casino gambling mattered. This is why selling out to the agenda of the Iowa State Education Association and the National Education Association mattered. That is why when Branstad appointed a lieutenant governor who is pro-choice and pro-same-sex marriage, it mattered. That is why allowing DHS to permit same-sex couples to serve as foster parents mattered. That is why appointing activist Supreme Court justices mattered. That is why the lingering influence of Branstad’s political advisors and inner circle, and their zest for renewed power, control, and access matters.

Simply put…it matters! This new group of voters coined by Terry Branstad as the Confrontational Right it should not be confusing…liberty and leadership matter!

My observance while on the campaign trail has framed my opinion that the “confrontational conservatives” are here to stay and, my guess is their fervor will not wane!


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