Legislators' tongues are tied. At least the ones in the majority. We have to be their voice.
This may sound odd. Legislators should be able to say whatever they want - it's a [relatively] free country, right?
Well, retribution is alive and well in the legislature. If a Republican state representative in Lansing says something negative about a Republican state senator or that senator's bill or views...well, that representative's bills will have a lot harder time getting through the senate. The next day, on the senate floor, the offended senator simply walks over to the chairman of the committee where your bill is, and says, "Did you see what Rep. Smith said about my bill? Please make sure his bill HB8000 doesn't see the light of day." The committee chair likely has reason to keep the offended senator happy - at the very least, due to the need for future support of his bills - so he says, "okay". And that's it.
This can happen, even if the state rep's negative comments aren't directed at a specific senator or senator's bill...but rather, directed at legislation that the GOP-led chamber (state senate or house) eventually passes...like a state exchange, increased film subsidies or Medicaid expansion. A state rep who attacks those kinds of legislation is also viewed as attacking the senators who passed them....which will likely bring similar retribution.
Here's how it unfolds: Republican legislators introduce or begin moving bad legislation. There are all kinds of glowing press releases from those legislators (often leadership) and the supporting special interests, combined with smiling press conferences...and that's it. They get to be out in front shaping public opinion. The conservative legislators really aren't able to provide the opposing views - at least not as strongly as they would like. You simply won't see the good guys in the legislature holding a counter press conference or putting out press releases, bad-mouthing the bad bill.
Can conservative legislators oppose bad, GOP-led legislation publicly? Yes. Maybe. But not nearly as strong as they would like. Again, for reasons mentioned above, the good GOP legislators have to be careful when publicly criticizing legislation sponsored by other Republicans. They have to weigh the price they will likely pay. They need help from conservatives outside the legislature - to be vocal and provide clear reasons why the legislation is bad.
ALL OF THIS TO SAY...we, you and I, need to do our part in this process for conservative and liberty principles. We truly need to be the ones who attack (directly and on occasion, pretty aggressively) bad legislation. And, especially with GOP majorities in both chambers, we need Republican legislators who push bad legislation to feel the heat - often significant heat. Our principles - free markets, personal liberty and limited government, are up against a lot of fully-engaged special interests with a lot of lobbyists and PAC money behind them. So, for GOP legislators who author bills to expand corporate welfare or expand civil asset forfeiture or push for higher taxes or to protect some specific company or group from competition...we need to turn up the heat. We need their constituents calling to tell them how upset they are. We need their constituents to show up at their district hours and call them on the carpet. We need Republican activists to give these errant legislators a hard time about their bad legislation at county conventions or executive committee meetings or Lincoln Day dinners. And we need grassroots groups to put out press releases or engage the press, giving the conservative/liberty side of the argument. Legislators, even those in their final term, like to be liked and don't like to be seen in a bad light.
Hence, one of the main reasons for this blog - to expose bad legislation and bad policy proposed in Lansing (mainly by Republicans, since they control both chambers) and to equip grassroots activists to make a real impact on activities in Lansing. We need to be the strong, firm voice of conservatism and liberty.