Wednesday, June 06, 2012

On Wisconsin: Why Do We Fall? *UPDATED*

As we could see as a possibility for awhile now, Wisconsin did not go well for the recall effort. Time to buck up.
"Why do we fall, sir?"

So, yes. Now we will have gloating from conservatives. We'll have pundits and commentators denouncing the unions, liberalism, and even the president. We will have billionaire fat cats chortling at...well, they don't live in our world.

Really, it is reminiscent of 2004. So many of us were fuming about Iraq and the ills in the country itself. We were sure the election would change everything (We often think that.). And found it did not go our way.

No, it isn't really all that similar. But Bush did smirk and talk of his "mandate." Conservatives chuckled and gleamed at their big plans. And things marched on.

The thing now is to take away lessons (And, let's hope we discover the right ones.) and insight for November.

Greg Sergeant quickly had a piece out, 'A wake-up call for Dems, labor, and the left.' (He placed a comma before the 'and,' I almost have to love him and the piece.) He points to the influx of cash from all those billionaires and interest groups to the recall. Walker raised 8 times his opponents funds. And outside interests outmatched what unions mustered.

But to be fair, Citizen United, as I understand it, focuses on federal elections. Also, Wisconsin still has laws on the books to keep corporate and unions at bay in normal elections. So there still are some barriers in normal elections. But the type of money thrown around in the last months are a taste of what is coming ever more common.

You need a billionaire PAC to stand out. Look at the GOP primaries. Who stood over time? The billionaires, and the people who had billionaire friends. Huntsman dropped when his family had had enough. And Gingrich dried up and shut down when his backer was done with him.

This is how are system now functions. There are no back of the pick up truck candidates. Well, not unless someone manages to create some brilliant viral online campaign, then gets it parleyed into cable news coverage. Even then, it's a fairy tale.

Politics has changed. It's been taken, reforged, and had it's price upped several factors. So what do we do?

We learn lessons. As much as we want to talk cash in Wisconsin, some polling says people were set on a candidate for governor for months. I have no idea how good these numbers are, but, maybe, we'll have a better idea tomorrow. Still, it seems a good starting point. So, consider, many Wisconsinites were set to back Walker.

Why were they set to do this? It is convenient to dismiss conservative voters, or people who vote differently, but...why are we in disagreement? Yes. Some are committed to party. Some are committed to an ideology. But not all of them. Some people are merely customers of lousy political/social product. Conservatives have been selling B.S. vigorously for quite a while now.

And, we should note, conservatives have gotten quite good at selling and embracing a lousy bill of sale. They pass law to ignore science and nature, but it's called job saving (and presented as a stab at "liberal lies"). They have turned the idea of selling off government services, like prisons, into cost saving innovation (despite the added cost to tax payers). The Republicans have worked to create a status quo that is dark and dank, just look what they did to our nation's credit rating. And when it hasn't been so bad, they declare it so. It has been common easy for them to confidently lie. They make up facts about Obama. They shut out voters, and declare they are saving the voting system. The view they have is sadly myopic. They go after everything it seems, from the Violence Against Women reauthorization to support for veterans (See all the filibustering.). But it helps create the gridlock and dreary ambiance they want, to push dread into all our hearts.

I know it can sound like it's a bit much, but they have embraced a path to assume power. And that means being sure we are a broken country, onto which they can work their agendas, and supplant real hope. So, they push and bend the system to accomplish this. Then lie to push things further, working to rewrite our understanding of key American ideas. Unions are bad. The rich need to be pampered to create jobs. Taxes and government services can't be trusted. Liberal is evil. Feminists are vile. Sarah Palin and George Bush are competent. They never liked the reality based community. Reality has been in their way too long.

It's incumbent on us to reinforce reality. And that requires us to present it to The People. As always, it starts with us. We need to counter the claims and distortions with facts. We need to talk about the importance of unions, the need for health care reform, and the results we have already seen in these last 4 years, despite the best efforts of Republicans in government offices and dark back rooms. The public square cannot be ceded to them. We need to let ourselves be heard, with family, friends, and beyond. Then we need to push the media to be more aware of the facts, be willing to challenge current and future wild claims from Romney, the PACS, and the Sunday morning regulars.

Also, to go back to those people we want to reach in the middle, I suggest considering was Milt Shook (at @MiltShook on Twitter) has been suggesting. We need to start listening to those people in the middle, and see just where their concerns and fear lie. They see a failed system. They see that doom the GOP stocking on the shelves. And they see two sides in a shoving match.

For the next few weeks, liberals, take some time out to listen to moderate voter, and discover what they care about. I mean just listen. Don’t ask them leading questions or prod them. Just listen. You’ll find that the biggest complaint from most isn’t that the Republicans are anti-woman, anti-gay and pro-corporation. Their main complaint is that government isn’t working right now. They think the system is too polarized, and no longer meets their needs. Yes, we need more jobs. Yes, we need health care. Yes, everyone should have the same rights as everyone else in every arena. But as long as the right wing is yelling at us and we’re yelling back at them, the average voter has little confidence that either side can fix things. And hot cocoa begins to sound better than voting on a cold November morning. 
Keep in mind, a system can't be polarized unless two opposite sides both make it that way.  If the right wing is screaming, and we calmly ignore them and state our case, the polarization goes away. That's how things used to work. It's only been in the last 40 years or so that we came to think it was imperative that we answer every ridiculous notion the right wing puts out there.  
We have to push hope. We have to be the opposite of the right wing in every way. We can't assume they know where we stand on the issues; just tell everyone, and let them tell you whether they've heard it or not. ... 

So, please we need to take a breath, then we need to act. We need to get informed. We need to become involved in the process, and with our fellow citizens. Retreat now is to surrender and accept the Republicans view. And we know their plans for health care, for reproductive rights, for the environment, for Medicare, for Social Security, and for the Supreme Court. These ends are important, and we need to learn and be smart. So just getting angry and indolent doesn't make our case clearer. We need to act, having clarity and making connections. That's how you help rekindle hope.

So, why do we fall?

"So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
So let's learn. Let's pick ourselves up. Let's damn well not start fighting each other.

Bain is coming. And this fight will be against a juggernaut, juiced up with all sorts of cash, unflinching in it's use of dirty tricks and distraction, and unburdened with any moral compass.

Photo: Tom Hardy in "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Warner Bros.


Added the quote from Milt Shook.
Also modified the paragraph that followed.

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