In a column for the conservative Bulwark, two high-ranking officials in the Wisconsin Republican Party revealed that they tried to pass a resolution condemning violence by either side of the political sphere only to see it shot down by extremist members drawn to the party by Donald Trump.
According to Kevin Barthel, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and John F. Foote, a former vice-chairman of the Oconto County GOP, they submitted a resolution to the Oconto County Republican Party on Feb. 13th that read, in part: “Therefore Be It Resolved that the Republican Party of Oconto County, in caucus assembled:
- Opposes violence as a means to any political end; and
- Condemns all political violence of the past year, be it by members of political parties or organizations in support of political parties or their agendas; and
- Condemns any ongoing or future violence, as well as incitement to same, used as a method to achieve political ends.
According to the two officials, it was shot down by a 55-45 percent margin.
To explain the political leanings of Oconto County voters, the two wrote, “Oconto is a small county—26,000 registered voters out of a total population of 38,000—in northeastern Wisconsin,” adding, “Former President Donald Trump carried Oconto County by 37 points in 2016 and 41 points in 2020. Local Republican congressional candidates, as well as partisan state and local candidates, regularly outperform the Democratic candidates 2:1 at the ballot box. Oconto County has been, in many ways and for many years, reflective of the base of the Republican party in Wisconsin.”
With that in mind, the two longtime Republicans lamented what their party is becoming when members can’t even agree to condemn political violence — no matter the party.
“There was the sense from those opposed to the resolution that they did not need to be told ‘what is right and wrong,’ so it appears to have struck a personal nerve with some even though we carefully drafted the resolution to express an organizational message that condemned uncivil actions and not specific parties or individuals,” they wrote before citing a recent poll that showed “that nearly 4 in 10 Republicans see a legitimate place for political violence in our political discourse.”
To explain what they think is happening to the Republican Party, they had a few observations about what the party is changing into and the type of people who are being drawn to it.
“This can sometimes be a good thing—there’s a reason organizations value fresh blood. But it can also be a bad thing if many of the new members are less interested in political philosophies and more interested in anger and indignation,” they wrote. “Which is why, in recent months, the focus of many local GOP organizations has shifted away from solving problems and toward blowing things up.”
Moving beyond the broad sweep of the state of Wisconsin Republicans, they added, “At least in our neighborhood, we can now see that a number of these newly enlisted Republicans appear to have come to the GOP not for the ideology or the philosophy, but for the signs, the flags and, the fight,” who, they assert, is one reason why their anti-violence resolution failed.