Some of you won't appreciate World War 2 metaphors, but I'm afraid that this one makes sense. We're in a political war, not one that we started, and we have entered the battle that will stop the enemy's forward progress or collapse our defenses. There is no compromise tomorrow in Wisconsin -- either they win and continue to ride roughshod over labor and progressive ideals, or we take the territory and the initiative away from them.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court currently has a 4-3 majority -- and by that I don't mean Republican vs. Democrat. I mean "doing its job" vs. "not doing its job" -- "restraining the excesses of the Executive and Legislative branches" vs. "letting them do whatever they want." One of that majority, Justice David Prosser, is up for a retention vote tomorrow. His bad behavior in office -- talking about "destroying" the "bitch" who is Chief Justice -- has become well known. He has said, in effect, that he's going to rubber-stamp whatever Wisconsin Republicans -- that their paymasters the Koch Brothers and their publicists the Club for Growth -- want to do. This is not Administration of Justice. This is Abdication of Justice.
And I'm giving you a nice little diary here to read. Sure, I want you to read it. But the world change for the better, will victory become more likely, if all you do is read? Not a bit. It doesn't intrinsically matter whether this diary makes the Rec List; I judge this one by this criterion: did it get you onto the phones?
Will you, through your phone, join in the invasion to liberate Wisconsin?
A handful of hours from now, early voting will have ended and Election Day will be in full swing. Are you going to wait for the results? Or are you going to make the results?
If you're reading this on a weekday morning or early afternoon, the chances are -- although of course there will be many exceptions -- that you have the time to get onto the phone and make some calls to Wisconsin. There are likely many fewer people working the phone today than there were on the weekend; that means that, if you're free, your contribution of time and effort is all that more important.
Prosser's robots are calling ceaselessly, fueled by Koch profits. If history is a guide, the day before the election will be filled with lies and distortions. You, by yourself, can counter a whole fleet of these robots, because humans like to listen to other humans. You can stop reading this now and start calling, or if you'd like I'll give you something to mull on first.
How critical is Wisconsin? Well, how critical was the tiny island of Guadalcanal?
The Marines at Guadalcanal
In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Japanese drove the Americans out of the Philippines, the British out of British Malaya, and the Dutch out of the East Indies. (Note the advantage they gained from planning a fight on many fronts at once. Read this as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio.) The Japanese then began to expand into the Western Pacific, occupying many islands in an attempt to build a defensive ring around their conquests and threaten the lines of communication from the United States to Australia and New Zealand. The Japanese reached Guadalcanal in May 1942. (As Guadalcanal is a tiny island, so a Supreme Court election is usually a tiny thing, but it's a critical part of their defenses.)
When an allied reconnaissance mission spotted construction of a Japanese airfield at Lunga Point on the north coast of Guadalcanal, the situation became critical. This new Japanese airfield represented a threat to Australia itself, and so the United States as a matter of urgency, despite not being adequately prepared, conducted the first amphibious landing of the war. The initial landings of US Marines on August 7, 1942 secured the airfield without too much difficulty (like occupying the Capitol building?), but holding the airfield for the next six months was one of the most hotly contested campaigns in the entire war for the control of ground, sea and skies.
Guadalcanal became a major turning point in the war as it stopped Japanese expansion. After six months of fighting the Japanese ceased trying to contest the control of the island. They finally evacuated the island at Cape Esperance on the north west coast in February 1943.
This tiny election, from which the invading Rapacious Reactionaries hope to gain their defensive hold for a larger attack (on 2012 and the unionization movement rather than Australia), is a key battle in an unlikely venue. We have to win it. Losing it makes our future struggle that much harder.
You, if you're like most people, do not want to be on the phones. I'm asking you to get past that. If one or two of us do it, that won't matter much. But if 50 or 500 or 5000 people do it, then in our own solidarity we can turn the tide of this war.
And I don't call it a "war" fancifully or melodramatically. I call it a "war" because, if we lose, people will die. The union movement will be wounded -- that's why they're doing this, after all -- and the return towards 19th century hell-holes or 13th century serfdom means actual suffering for all but the wealthy.
The Call of Duty and the Duty of Call
You're reading this because you think that these sorts of things matter. Taking the step from political observer to political actor is a heady thing. Calling people seems impolite -- even though, in a GOTV time like this, you're calling to excite Democrats, make sure that they vote, and motivate them to get the people around them to the polls as well. (Wisconsin has same day registration -- totalitarians that they are!) What you can do is to not merely watch -- but to be part of the event.
In my diary yesterday I actually went through the process of calling in real time, explaining call by call what it is like. If you want to see what it's like, take a look. It is highly non-traumatizing. And if you call and somehow get traumatized, write about it below and we'll laugh about it together. We're here, in the comments section below, for mutual support.
You'll see a lot of people in comments exuding supreme confidence and other people
who have real worries about how much the Kochs and the Growths are putting into this election. If you live in Milwaukee, you may not realize what's happening in the burbs. If you live in Madison, you may not know what's going on in Green Bay. Not so many Kosters here are likely to be from the rural north and west; we can only guess what's happening there. All we know is: the more we do, the better we'll do.
You want to be enthusiastic, polite, steady, unflappable. Most of the time during the day today you will be leaving messages. Practice them (they're easy!) and don't worry if you mess up a little -- it just humanizes you. Showing people that you care reaches something deep within them. That's the power of our movement. It's about caring, not about greed.
What are you waiting for?
You can learn about JoAnne Kloppenburg on her website.
You can make calls from this beautifully constructed page.
You can see comments from Kosters about their own experiences making calls here.
Get onto the phone! I'll be here for most of the next three hours, reporting on my own calls. Don't leave me out there alone!
This is our battle of Guadalcanal -- and we're going to bust our butts to win it!