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Congress Needs More Fairness and Balance

Nov. 1, 2016
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Like the gerrymandered legislative map in Wisconsin, Republicans around the country drew congressional districts after the 2010 census to benefit their own party. State legislatures draw the maps for not only their own districts, but they also draw their state’s congressional lines. These gerrymandered districts may not only have given the Republicans a significant majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, it may also have given them a false sense of confidence and arrogance.

Now, however, with an embarrassing, vulgar Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, that safe GOP majority may actually be in doubt. Republicans in Congress have to decide if they support Donald Trump, essentially approving him more than they disapprove of him, or if they say that he is far too extreme and ignorant and rebuke him, or if they can take the cowardly act of trying to dance around the elephant in the room, as Paul Ryan keeps trying to do. With the gerrymandered districts in so many states, it was assumed that the Republicans would control the Congress until the next redistricting takes place after the 2020 election. It will be difficult for the Democrats to win the necessary 30 seats in the House but now even Republican leaders are beginning to worry that that could be a possibility. If the Republicans hold the House, it will be with a smaller majority. The open seat in the Green Bay-Fox River Valley area is the most competitive race and Democratic Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson has a very reasonable chance of winning that race. 

Closer to home, the most high-profile congressional race in Wisconsin is in the 1st District, where House Speaker Paul Ryan is being challenged by Democrat Ryan Solen, an Iraq war veteran. We strongly endorse Ryan Solen for this seat.

As a national Republican leader, Paul Ryan has done little to work in a bipartisan way and has continuously caved in to his small, very right-wing Freedom Caucus within his party’s ranks. He has also done a very poor job of trying to put some civility into the Republican presidential primary fiasco and to cope with the threat to the nation posed by Trump. As Trump moved toward the nomination Ryan did some soul searching but then rather quickly endorsed Trump while criticizing him at the same time. Yet none of Trump’s bad behavior has caused Ryan to pull his endorsement as many other principled Republicans have. It seems that Ryan is doing this dance: He doesn’t want to anger Trump or Trump’s supporters, who comprise a large bloc of the Republican base, yet can’t find the courage to speak the truth about this dangerous demagogue and disavow him. It’s not exactly statesmanlike behavior and it certainly speaks volumes about Paul Ryan’s lack of a moral compass. Paul Ryan’s efforts to protect his political career may end up critically damaging both his career and the Republican Party.

Solen is an Iraq war Army veteran who has risked his life serving America and now wants to serve the interests of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional district, not Paul Ryan’s special interest corporate and political backers. You won’t find Solen citing Ayn Rand’s ideology as a reason for cutting the social safety net. The other major Ayn Rand devotee, former federal reserve chair Alan Greenspan almost destroyed the U.S. and world economy but had the courage afterward to admit that he and his philosophy were flawed. Paul Ryan has softened his tone, but his policies haven’t changed much. So that is why we are supporting Democrat Ryan Solen in his uphill battle against all of the special interest money supporting Paul Ryan in his fight to represent the people of the 1st District. Solen will stand up for affordable, accessible health care and education. Solen would be far more dedicated to the district than Ryan, who, if re-elected, will be most concerned about preserving his hold on power and burnishing his image to make a run for the White House in four years. Ryan Solen was profiled in the Shepherd’s Oct. 20 issue; you can find it at shepherdexpress.com.

In Milwaukee’s 4th District, we are recommending Gwen Moore. Moore is a tireless public servant who speaks up for the underdog. She is acutely aware of Milwaukee’s needs and we believe her continued advocacy in Congress will help make Milwaukee safer, more prosperous and more tolerant. 

In the 5th District, we endorse Hartland businessman Khary Penebaker, a Democrat, over longtime Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Penebaker is president of Roofed Right America and a national advocate for gun control. We feel Penebaker’s business experience and values are more in line with 5th District residents than Sensenbrenner’s. It’s time for a change in this district and we hope that voters will give Penebaker a chance. To read Penebaker’s responses to our candidate questionnaire, go to shepherdexpress.com


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