Local Grassroots Group Vets Ron Johnson, Part 2: "The Constitution Is Not an Easy Document to Read"

Recap: In Part 1, Ron Johnson—who is, along with Dave Westlake, running on the Republican ticket for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin—demonstrated during a Rock River Patriots vetting session that he:

  • Still needs a coherent message
  • Has progressive policy leanings
  • Lacks a solid familiarity with the Constitution
  • Divides his definition of freedom against itself

Let’s jump right into the last half of the first video segment (at the 5:49 mark) and see what goodies await us there, shall we…?

Let’s say you have the opportunity to abolish the IRS and institute a flat tax or a consumption tax. Would you be for that?

Johnson’s transcribed reply: “Boy, if you could eliminate the IRS, that would be a wonderful thing. But is it logical? I don’t know. I mean, we are so far from that point… You’re going to have to do this in steps. I’d love to see some dramatic tax simplifications, tax reductions, that type of thing. A flatter, fairer system, quite honestly.”

He correctly identifies a steep, progressive tax structure and marginal tax rates as big problems. But look closely at those middle few sentences of his response…


The IRS is a “legalized” enforcement and extortion racket. Does RoJo think we should take a gradual approach to ridding ourselves of the Russian mob, too? Does he think it’s illogical to give them the heave-ho?

Johnson bills himself as a businessman who’s good with numbers and spreadsheets. You’d think he’d be all ready with a plan to get rid of America’s most deservedly hated institution. Especially since he defines freedom in financial/economic terms.

Instead, he hands us the equivalent of: “Yeah, that’d be nice, but it’s pie in the sky. It’s always been this way, so why mess with it.” But maybe he hasn’t he just hasn’t thought much about this issue yet, either…

What does the 2nd Amendment mean to you, and what would you to do protect it?

Johnson quickly points out that he’s a fisherman, has never been a hunter, and doesn’t own guns—but adds that he of course supports the 2nd Amendment. Well, that’s vaguely comforting…I guess. But why the initial disclaimer? People don’t usually offer a disclaimer unless they feel the need to distance themselves from something. In this case, it’s not Johnson’s lack of knowledge he’s distancing himself from. It’s firearms.

He claims support of Open Carry because it correlates to reduced crime levels. Good. He says criminals should be fearful for their activities, not law-abiding citizens. Yup. He even understands that the Founders included the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights to defend against an out-of-control government. And yet one still comes away with a subtle but nagging sense that RoJo’s not comfortable with the idea of guns or with citizens possessing them. He leaves the impression that defense against an out-of-control government is an outmoded fear.

In point of fact, that’s exactly what Johnson believes. More in an upcoming installment.

When asked what infringements to constitutional rights he’d support, in relationship to gun ownership, Johnson notes he’d be fine with “minimal licensing,” comparing it to car licensing. Reiterating that he’s not a gun owner, he says he hasn’t given the issue a lot of thought. Well, again, like Johnson, I don’t own any guns, but I’ve given plenty of thought to my 2nd Amendment rights. So let me share a couple of them…

Unfortunately, licensing has failed to impact significantly the number of crimes involving firearms. In fact, it has resulted almost exclusively in inconveniencing law-abiding citizens. Someone who wants to commit a crime with a gun is going to get one—legally or illegally.

Furthermore, should government ever wish to disarm American citizenry, licensing makes it easier to find and collect firearms. And that’s not so far-fetched when you consider the City of Chicago’s “credit card for your guns” drive a few months ago or Hilary Clinton’s push to involve the U.S. in a U.N. small arms control treaty.

And that’s exactly where the Rock River Patriots were headed…

As a U.S. Senator, would you vote for the U.N. small arms treaty?

Johnson said he didn’t know enough to comment.

One word: YIKES!

Someone in the audience followed up by asking for a position on U.N. treaties, in general. RoJo labels the question as too broad. Comical, considering he wasn’t able to respond to the first, quite specific question. He had no basic statement on analysis of a treaty’s ultimate aims and outcomes or whether it would limit national sovereignty, constitutional authority, or the rights of our citizenry.

Not good…

Ronny finally admits he’s not a big fan of the U.N., says its a joke and an embarrassment—which it most certainly is. But criminy… It’s only when someone explains to Johnson that the question about the small arms treaty is meant to discern how well he would protect constitutional rights that he says, “No, I would not support [a U.N. small arms treaty].” He subsequently declares that he’d never vote for anything that would compromise U.S. sovereignty. Am I supposed to feel reassured at this point? Because I don’t.

That Johnson did not immediately understand the intent of the questioning is not only troubling but rightfully calls into question his ability to draw correct and crucial inferences in the role of senator.

Rolling on to the next video…

As a U.S. Senator, you’ll swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. What federal agencies do you believe are unconstitutional?


But I’ll be damned. RoJo still can’t come up with an answer. Once again he claims the question is too broad.

Hell! I can name at least 10 unconstitutional agencies and departments in seconds flat. He sits there stumped. Watch him struggle to come up with something, anything at all.

Then, he breaks the uncomfortable silence:

“I will say, prior to doing this, I sat down and read the Constitution thoroughly, probably five, six times. It is not an easy document to read. Unless you study it in detail, it’s hard to study. “

A member of the audience replies, “It’s not that big.”

Johnson testily shoots back, “I realize that,” then searches again for words before continuing defensively. “I’m not a constitutional scholar. If you want me to make broad sweeping statements, I’m just not prepared to do that. If you want to talk about specific things, I’ll answer specific questions.”

Another group member graciously complies, “Do you think the Department of Education is unconstitutional?”

A third group member makes the question even more specific: “According to Article 1, Section 8.”

Still Johnson hems and haws before suggesting, “Let’s talk about education,” and wisely indicating he prefers local control of education to federal control.

Immediately thereafter, yet another group member follows up on the original question, asking quite reasonably, “Which federal agencies would you eliminate?” Johnson’s now-familiar refrain? “I really haven’t given it a lot of thought.”

Well, pardon me for asking, but what exactly HAS RoJo been thinking about? Anything at all besides how totally awesome it’s going to be to have an office in Washington…?

Johnson does expound on a fiscal approach to identifying where waste is occurring. That’s a good start, but it’s only a small part of the problem—which is why Johnson’s response, or lack thereof, is so troubling. Budgets can be raised and lowered; but the continued existence of unconstitutional, regulatory agencies in our government is akin to dandelions in a lawn. Unless you eradicate them at the root, they grow back. Johnson’s failure to zero in on constitutionality should set alarm bells ringing for Wisconsin voters.

In fact, he says something that should send more shivers down the spine: “I’m sorry. I don’t have the whole game plan worked out, here, in terms of this, that, and the other thing. All I can say is that I have a very sincere desire, and I think I have the ability and the background to ultimately do it.”

Sorry, but: “I have the right background; trust me,” doesn’t cut it. We need a candidate who:

  • Thinks about the issues in depth and in relationship to the U.S. Constitution
  • Develops informed, viable strategies
  • Stands ready to pursue those strategies to achieve stated, understandable goals
  • Holds to solid principles that won’t disintegrate under pressure.

So far, you got nuttin’.

A Rock River Patriots member seemed to have similar concerns on that last point. He pressed Johnson in that direction: “There’s a concern that there’s a machine in Washington, and the machine is its own entity. As you go in with these ideals and principles, when you get into that system, what confidence do we have? What is your moral compass? What is your sense of principle? What is your uncompromising attitude toward what’s right to give us confidence once we say, ‘OK, Ron. Go in there and fight for us to have our country taken back.’? What can we hear from you that says, ‘Yes, we believe he isn’t going to change—that he’s not going to go in there and vote for principles we don’t believe in.”

Johnson’s response? “I can’t give you any guarantees. I can only tell you that I want to solve the problem.”

What’s that old saying about the road to hell…?

Where is Johnson’s explication of his moral code? That’s what he’s very plainly being asked to provide. He can’t articulate that either. He says he wants to work with other people. That’s nice, Ron, but unless we know who and what YOU are, we don’t necessarily have any confidence in your ability to do the right things PERIOD—whether you’re going it alone or in concert with others.

WHO ARE YOU, RON JOHNSON? So far, the answer seems to be: a dangerously under-informed guy who thinks the Constitution is hard to understand but who has a lot of money and wants a senate seat.

You better come up with something more compelling than that, Ronny—and quickly. And by the way, since you’re finding the Constitution so difficult to study, you may want to get yourself a good tutor. Your competition already knows it inside and out.

The test is timed, and the clock is ticking…

Part 3 on Monday.

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