Pennsylvanians and all Americans are frustrated at the self-serving talk from politicians from both parties who are more focused on being something than doing something.
Republicans driven by pro-growth principles win elections, because they present a vision for our state and country that the majority of Pennsylvanians embrace. But in the recent midterms, the complete wipeout of Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs was mirrored by rejections in Virginia and New Jersey. Voters clearly are telling us that they have had enough of the political class and politics as usual.
Forget loud pronouncements. We need an honest conversation with voters about what a Republican governor in Harrisburg would mean for them.
For the last three years, Gov. Wolf has largely abdicated his role in governing this state. He has allowed three budgets to lapse into law without his signature after mostly sitting out the negotiations. His seeming surprise when the General Assembly flatly rejected his attempt to pass record tax and spending hikes in his first year has given way to an attitude of disengagement and finger-pointing. Wolf's strategy is transparent: He will happily allow the Republicans to fight among themselves while the hardest line in each party debases the idea of self-government. That's not governing.
And the so-called budget that just resulted from his inaction reflects that lack of leadership: a downgrade of our credit rating, followed by more than a billion in borrowing; the raiding of dedicated funds; the mortgaging of our children's future; and, instead of a tax base founded on people working and building and growing things, a financial foundation that is ever more dependent on our citizens smoking, drinking, gambling, and smoking pot. What have we become?
The Republican Party needs to be about responsible, principled governing and getting things done for the citizens of this commonwealth. Our vision for stronger economic growth and better paying jobs for all Pennsylvanians, driven by lower taxes, lower spending, and smarter regulation, is one that can win across the state.
Reason and responsible governing are hardly as interesting as the spectacle of political extremes going at one another for the benefit of 24/7 cable channels. Conflict is an easy story. Yet, the values I hold as a conservative — limited government focused on economic growth and customer service; trust in the brains and common sense of ordinary individual citizens; and the belief that government is here to serve the people and not the other way around — are wholeheartedly embraced by voters when we speak them plainly.
Education, public safety, transportation and, yes, helping citizens who cannot care for themselves are the basic stuff of a civil society. Conservative, Republican principles are about how to build a civil society without intruding on personal liberty with suffocating overreach.
Our core message resonates with the vast majority of Pennsylvania voters, but to win we need to return to what makes us great as a party and ramp down the anger and fixation on ideological labels in favor of winning on the strength of what conservatism means, not what a few self-appointed proponents shout.
The Republican Party has been the party of the future. It is the party of modernizing our liquor system, of school choice for parents and children, of supporting our existing businesses and paving the way for innovative companies like Uber and Amazon.
I'm running for governor because Pennsylvanians deserve jobs that can pay the bills; we need safe streets and good transportation; we need great schools for our kids; we need to eradicate the scourge of opiates that is destroying entire families; and we need to bring some fiscal sanity to Harrisburg. These are the things that require our attention.
It is time for us to work together, focused on finding solutions to these goals that we share, rather than wasting any more time and energy on the things that divide us. I am confident that Republicans will win in 2018 if we rally voters around solutions and a path forward — not just shout our anger.
Laura Ellsworth is a Republican candidate for governor from Pittsburgh. @LauraForPA