The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ron Johnson rips liberalism at national conservative gathering, calls for more "citizen-legislators"

By Craig Gilbert

Addressing the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson accused liberals of demonizing doctors and business people, fostering entitlement and dependency, and sacrificing “our freedom in their quest for more power over our lives.”

Johnson was the second speaker at CPAC, an annual three-day event in Washington DC that will feature many of the Republican Party’s presidential hopefuls.  Conference organizer David Keene said 11,000 people had registered for the event, although there were far fewer than that in the hotel hall at the outset of the event. 

Johnson followed key-note speaker Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who told attendees, “We have seen President Obama usher in socialism under his watch over the last two years.”  After Bachmann’s speech earned a loud ovation from the crowd, Johnson called it a “hard act to follow.”

The GOP freshman from Wisconsin was one of several speakers chosen by organizers to showcase the election last fall of conservative newcomers to politics.

“I realize many - if not most - of you, had no idea who I was prior to November second - or even five minutes ago for that matter,” Johnson told the morning crowd, before retelling the story of his decision to run for office to fight the new health care law. 

Some excerpts from his 23-minute speech:

 “What I have sadly witnessed over the course of my lifetime is a slow but steady drift - and I would argue over the last two years, a lurch - toward a culture of entitlement and dependency. This is not an America I recognize. It is not an America that will work.”

“Liberals have done an excellent job convincing generations of Americans that they are entitled to benefits and that someone else will pick up the tab. The result has been devastating to our culture and to our society.”

“The liberal solution is to spend more and tax more. They want more government, and they are certainly willing to sacrifice our freedom in their quest for more power over our lives. We simply can’t afford this approach any longer.”

“If I could wave a magic wand, I would wipe the entire Obama agenda off the table and start from scratch.”

“I really wish I could stand up here and tell you that everything will be O.K. But I can’t. From what I can tell, there are still politicians here in Washington that remain in a state of denial. I’m also afraid that too many Americans are willing to keep their heads in the sand and refuse to face the reality of the situation. Most people say they want to reduce the deficit and balance the budget, but I fear too few will be ready to embrace the necessary solutions.”

“Now that I'm here I can see we need more allies. We need more citizen legislators who understand the gravity of the moment, and are willing to put their lives on hold to join this fight.”

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