Tim’s Temper Tantrum: Michels’ ‘pitchforks & torches’ rhetoric is dangerous

Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels arrives at a rally Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Waukesha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

By Joe Zepecki
September 7, 2022

After the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Wisconsin Governor Tim Michels gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to radical groups that oppose access to common, everyday forms of contraception, Michels had a temper tantrum.

Rather than defend the contributions or explain his reasoning for them, Michels was so upset by the disclosure that he called for his supporters to “be ready to get out on the streets with pitchforks and torches” in an appearance on conservative talk radio.

The contributions that set off the controversy, including Michels apparent call for violence, totaled $175,000 in 2020 alone to three organizations – Pro Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life, and a New York City non-profit that misleadingly characterizes itself as a ‘crisis pregnancy center.’ 

Pro Life Wisconsin advocates for outlawing abortion in all cases, without exception, and opposes widely used forms of contraception such as the birth control pill. The organization also supports banning in vitro fertilization, which has allowed thousands of Wisconsin parents to start families. 

Since announcing his campaign for Governor, Michels has his position on abortion clear – he supports the state’s 1849 law that is well outside the mainstream. Which is why his unhinged reaction to the disclosure of contributions to groups that hold the same positions as him is so revealing.

Michels isn’t upset about the positions these groups hold, he knew exactly where his money was going. He’s upset that so many Wisconsinites who disagree with him on top of mind issue are finding out just how extreme the views he holds are.

That anger may be understandable, but Michels’ choice to use rhetoric that could lead to violence is unacceptable. Especially in light of the political violence that Michels most notorious benefactor – former President Donald Trump – has inspired.


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