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There is a plethora of blog posts from people on the left trying to explain why Tom Barrett lost to Scott Walker in the WI recall election on Tuesday. So far, the consensus seems to be that Barrett simply couldn't overcome Walker's huge cash advantage. The cash imbalance did make the race much harder for Barrett, and it's one of the main reasons why Walker prevailed. It's true that we can't compete as well when we're being outspent by huge 7:1 ratios. But blaming this loss solely or mostly on spending is too easy, and it does nothing to address the real problems contributing to the GOP's continued nationwide appeal.

As people firmly on the left side of the spectrum, we know that the GOP has gone off the rails. Everyone knows that the GOP has gotten quite radical of late. We're up against a Republican party that wants to radically re-shape American society in a way that most people would find appalling. They should be alienating themselves, but this and the 2010 election show that that's simply not happening. Why is that?

Barrett's problem (and the problem facing the Democratic Party nationwide) is much more basic than a lack of money--and much harder to remedy. He lost because he didn't present a solid argument for supporting him over his opponent. He didn't just not have a clear, coherent ideological platform; he seemed to be relying entirely on Walker's radicalism to make his case for him. Clearly this strategy isn't working. It didn't work for John Kerry in 2004 or Congressional Democrats in 2010, and it didn't work on Tuesday. It's just not self-evident to the average voter that the GOP has morphed into a crazy caricature of itself, and assuming that voters agree with us on this issue is not working. The Democrats can't be a successful party if they're not strongly advocating for their own positions, instead of arguing against the Republicans'.

This recall election came out of a truly inspiring moment in progressive politics: energized citizens rising up and occupying the capitol building, protesting for weeks the extreme overreach of a newly-empowered far-right administration. However, after the protests began, the left totally dropped the ball when it came to transforming this nascent public outrage into sustained support. The Democrats in Wisconsin should have taken this chance to counter the GOP's radical agenda with their own, rather than running on a platform of opposing things the GOP has already done. The WI Dems should have used this moment to explain not just that busting public unions was bad for the state but also why, and then take the next logical step: arguing not just for the preservation of unions, but for their expansion and (re-)empowerment.

This is a much larger and more basic problem than just the Democrats' failure to defend the unions. They're failing to make a winning case for their own policies--to the point where it's difficult to explain the party's stance on most issues. Where do they stand on the the Affordable Care Act, today in June of 2012? Everyone reading this diary can name the standard GOP position on healthcare reform: repeal and replace. But what do the Democrats at large think? Was it a triumph, or just a start? Should we be working to expand its reach, and if so, how? Do the Democrats still stand for universal healthcare? But this also isn't just a problem with one issue. Name any issue, and the GOP's official stance on it can probably be stated in a single phrase: tax cuts create jobs, abortion is murder, social security is insolvent. But the Democrats have very few clear principles like those.

And perhaps more worryingly, the GOP seems to be on the offensive on every issue, offering their ideas first, while we on the left sit back and let them frame each debate. We have been put in the position of fighting to protect once-popular things like unions and abortion rights, while they get to seem like they're arguing for something new--and it doesn't matter whether the right truly is offering new or even good ideas; the fact that they're loudly arguing something while the Democrats flounder is what's keeping them popular despite their radicalism. This has to stop. We've got to focus on arguing for the policies we truly want, instead of just meekly defending what we've already accomplished.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (30+ / 0-)

    "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

    by rigcath on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:00:05 AM PDT

  •  If he was that unclear... (0+ / 0-)

    ...maybe he would have been too stupid to govern.

    •  he wasn't unclear (11+ / 0-)

      People knew the issues. Some felt Walker earned the right to finish out his term no matter what he did. And he won because of money. Period. As long as we continue to eat alive every candidate of ours who loses, no matter what the circumstances, we will continue to lose.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:09:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How did he win because of the money when polling (12+ / 0-)

        showed that a majority of voters thought that recalls are only justified for committing a crime?

        Barrett was NEVER going to win this election. They could have saved the money they spent on all the ads, and it wouldn't have changed anything.

        Hindsight is 20-20, but looking back it was probably a mistake to focus on get rid of walker instead of focusing on getting the Senate seats and organizing on how to control at least one house of the legislature until 2014.

        •  If you lived in WI you'd know that polling is BS (11+ / 0-)

          There was none of this recalls are bad stuff one year ago when the GOP STARTED the recalls by filing against 8 Dem senators.

          This recalls is bad shit was just offered as a rationale by people who were going to vote for Walker anyway.

          Take that poll in March 2011 and maybe 10% would respond "recalls are always bad".

          Fighting back was essential and it wasn't the decision of any damn political party. The Democrats of Wisconsin demanded it and the people is Party leadership slots wisely got on board.

          Full Stop.

        •  So which side pushed the idea (8+ / 0-)

          that recalls are only justified for criminal acts? And how much did they spend pushing that particular idea? How many right wing radio talkers continually yammered on that the recall was over policy disagreements rather than the 'bait and switch' fraud that got Walker elected in the first place?

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:26:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The recall was over policy disagreements (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stwriley, annecros, rcnewton, Orinoco

            The "bait and switch" fraud was that Walker didn't publicly say they were going to go after the unions when he was elected. It wasn't a secret who his backers were in 2010. What did people expect?

            •  What did people expect? (9+ / 0-)

              The TRUTH!  Is it too much to expect that a politician actually just tell the truth?!  Destroying public employee unions----which is precisely what Walker did----is not a minor thing.  Removing from women in this state the right to sue for equal pay is not a minor thing.  Gutting the education budget for the entire state, including our flagship University of Wisconsin-Madison to the tune of over $1 BILLION is not a minor thing.  Conspiring with ALEC and companies like the one that wanted to destroy the northwestern corner of the state with fracking is NOT a minor thing.  And you are incorrect---most of the voters in this state did not know who Scott Walker's backers actually were because they hid behind Citizens United and the media in this state covered for them as well.  We were aware of money flooding into the state that was paying for utterly scurrilous ads against Tom Barrett but until that guy impersonated David Koch and people got to hear Walker kissing the a** of what he presume actually was David Koch, people didn't believe it.  So I guess we're a bunch of rubes who deserved what we got.  You're wrong.  We did NOT deserve this.  And now I am out of this diary because I am sick and tired of having to explain over and over and over to people on this site who know NOTHING about what went on here why and how Scott Effing Walker got himself elected.

              We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Louis D. Brandeis

              by 3goldens on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:33:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There is a lot of buzz going on about... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rigcath, 2laneIA, Orinoco, 3goldens

                election fraud in WI right now.  Could be just people making excuses, but it sounds legitimate.

                No one deserves what Walker did, and he should not have won.  I saw that old people outvoted young people, by just about the margin that Walker won by.  

                That won't change the past, but knowing what the problems are will leave us more prepared for the future.

                •  Suzie, don't believe the buzz (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AnnieJo, Orinoco

                  about election fraud.  I've lived here my entire life and other than Kathleen Nickolaus, the Waukesha County Clerk, and her escapades regarding tallying votes which were exposed for everyone to know about, election fraud is not a common thing in this state.  I've been seeing some rumors here on DailyKos but unless/until there is something a lot more substantial than what has come out thus far, I think people are venturing into Conspiracy Theory territory (making false accusations about something that clearly could not have occurred) and that can get them banned here.  Walker's win was so extensive over Barrett that there would have had to be massive vote-flipping or vote "creation" in order to accomplish that.  This election wasn't even close.  I honestly don't believe that there was anything resembling election fraud.  

                  We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Louis D. Brandeis

                  by 3goldens on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 02:56:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  buzz - - concern & questions (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I don't know if you are familiar with
                  This guy specializes on election integrity and he had a video on Questions about Wisconsin's Recall Election


                  Apparently the problem with Wisconsin elections is that the people vote on paper ballots but machines scans and count the ballots.  These scanners have a history of declaring the loser as the winner.  Coincidence, I don't think so.

                  Now that the democrats have control of state assembly, maybe they can take a voting area and count the paper ballots to see how accurate the scanners counted your votes.

                  To some generations much is given .......... Of other generations much is expected .......... This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny .......... Franklin Delano Roosevelt

                  by Juzzain on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:48:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Um, no---Democrats have control (0+ / 0-)

                    of the State Senate, not the Assembly.  There will not be a meeting of the State Legislature until after the November elections, so there won't be any immediate looking at our voting process.  Finally, I'm familiar with Brad Friedman and his blog and I think he does a fine job in many areas.  But he's in conspiracy territory that the vote was somehow "rigged" for Walker.  I despise Walker with the heat of a thousand suns, but given the huge margin of Walker's win, there is simply no way that there could have been fraud.  It would have necessitated a huge conspiracy to flip votes to Walker OR to "create" votes out of thin air.  It didn't happen and please do not push this kind of stuff here.  It can get you banned.  

                    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. Louis D. Brandeis

                    by 3goldens on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 02:12:07 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  This is the point. The ads against recalls (9+ / 0-)

            ran for months before the campaign really started, funded by the outside groups, and uncontested by the Democratic Party.

          •  I'm sure (D)s said the same re: Gray Davis. (0+ / 0-)
        •  I see this as the important tangent (0+ / 0-)
          a majority of voters thought that recalls are only justified for committing a crime?
          some of those voters might have voted for Walker, then a Dem Assembly or Senate candidate.....

          I pose that as a question......

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:44:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Amen!!!! Democrats have GOT to stop (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JamieG from Md, churchlady

        eating their own but it seems they never will...that's how we got 2010. The Repugs stand together no matter what and they are destroying our nation as a result of it.

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:56:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with that somewhat, but (0+ / 0-)

          rigcath is correct about the party's lack of simple, coherent messages, and then standing by them.  You can cuss the repugs all you want, but they are alway on message and disciplined.  2010 happened because the party fractured in 09 on AHCA and the stimulus.  They had a mandate and blew it. The fence sitters see this a weekness and they were correct. Until there is strength in the message, you will not overcome the GOP's money and discipline, and will will not win the hearts and minds of the indy's.

          "Success is a dangerous as failure, hope as hollow as fear" - Lao Tzu

          by anotherroady on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 01:53:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Barrett is smart but Walker campaigned for months (4+ / 0-)

      The problem that Barrett faced is that Walker campaigned for months knowing that a recall was coming.  One of the first ads that came out and ran for several weeks was an ad attacking the recalls as being unnecessary.  This obviously had an impact on some voters as exit polls showed around 60% of the voters did not believe in recalls.  

      Barrett only had the month of May to campaign and get his message across.  If ads had been out right away to counter Walker's message that recalls are wrong the election outcome might have been different.

      Barrett does have a degree in Economics and a law degree while Walker is a college dropout from Marquette and rumor is that he didn't leave willingly.  I would have preferred a governor who understands economics and the law instead of a governor who is being investigated for breaking the law.  Unfortunately that message was drowned out by the tidal wave of cash from the Koch brothers and other billionaires.

  •  I disagree (17+ / 0-)

    It takes oodles and oodles of money to repeat bad ideas endlessly until they become "common knowledge" meanwhile the truth languishes for lack of messengers.

    Even the supreme court pretty much said money = speech.  If so, then they are doing most of the talking.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:08:26 AM PDT

  •  The Right is Utterly on the Attack Not Because (9+ / 0-)

    of any debate but because their private sector national legislature is writing bills and submitting them across the country at the state, local and national level. Meanwhile the cost of running for elected office has skyrocketed so far that constitutional government is spending up to 50% of its time fund raising.

    Elected government no longer has the sheer opportunity to do more than defend against the tsunami of private legislation.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:10:55 AM PDT

    •  So we're supposed to just give up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, Sunspots

      on pushing our own agenda, just because the GOP is on attack? Isn't the best defense a good offense?

      "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

      by rigcath on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:15:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The biggest factor (8+ / 0-)

    We overplayed our hand.

    A sizeable number of Wisconsin voters, not necessarily in favor of Walker's policies, thought recall - which is a radical step - was uncalled for.

    If the margin had been closer, like a point or two, then perhaps money was the deciding factor.

    As a Californian, I told friends in 2003 after our recall that if one were called against Schwarzenegger or another Repub governor, I'd likely oppose it, because it was a bad thing to make normal. Now, if someone like Walker were governor here, then I'd likely feel differently. But I respect the instinct that recalls shouldn't be used to settle political differences.

    And that was the single biggest factor in Wisconsin.

    Though I disagree with the sentiment, I saw a pro-recall yard sign that said "Recall Santa - I didn't like what I got for Xmas." That sentiment rings true for a lot of voters. And we need to deal with that before we embark on another losing cause that hurts more than most losses.

    •  All fo the money that was spent netted Walker 47K (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rigcath, Quicklund, annecros, Sunspots

      votes give or take. He won by 3.5 times that amount.

      Many of us on the left are looking for a place to lay blame as to why we lost, because we cannot fathom how anybody could support Scott Walker. We need to realize that sometimes they just win.

      Did the money hurt Walker? Certainly not. But It can't be said that it was what won him the election.

      •  We ignore the power of that level of spending (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to our detriment. It is not everything but it sure provides the tipping point.

        Money talks, bullshit walks. Old old saying.  

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:23:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We over played our hand? Are you nuts? (8+ / 0-)

      You act like we were in the position of power with the ability to make decisions. Hardly.

      In Feb 2011 when this shit hit we threw everything we could think of at the Republicans in order to slow them down - anything that interrupted them on any level no matter how small was recieved as a major victory by us. That's how it feels to have your back against the wall.

      Now after we destroyed Walker's rubber-stamp state senate, you come here and say we "overplayed our hand"?

      To hell with that noise.

      Our hand was a pair of sevens showing and we were looking across the table at an open-ended straight flush. Yet we bluffed our way to stealing the ante. Like shit that's overplaying our hand.

      •  I stand by my point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kestrel9000, emelyn, Neuroptimalian

        The great and admirable energy channeled by the great citizens in Wisconsin should have been used for other purposes - the 2012 general elections for the legislature, setting up the case for opposing Walker through conventional elections and so on.

        You are refusing even now to acknowledge the elephant in the room - a large number of Wisconsin residents, though not pleased with Walker, were convinced that recall was wrong.

        He now is far more strengthened than he would have been going into November and the future.

        Unions - particularly public unions - are now more threatened than they would have been had there been no recall. Republicans are emboldened. Their donors are particularly emboldened.

        I'm sorry my point isn't getting through, but this was a classic overreach.

        We need to battle. We need to fight for what was fought for here. But we need to be strategically smarter. This turned out to be a strategically bad move.

        •  You are wrong. (9+ / 0-)

          I am proof of it. Actual living proof that you are wrong.

          Although my state senator was not up for recall, I worked for the recall Darling effort. I was part of the (now defunct, but influential) Playground Legends. That experience, even though we "lost," got us prepared to take on Scott Walker and form the OLB. While we "lost" that too, it is simplistic and short-sighted to just make those judgements about what is a win and what is a loss based solely on vote counts.

          The recalls energized communities to get off their asses and do something for positive change. Sometimes that was GOTV efforts, and if you don't think that is important, then you are wrong again. The Racine Recall Teams beat Van Wanggaard. It was very close. Those people got together BECAUSE OF THE RECALL. I can't speak to what those people would have done or not done without a recall and neither can anyone else.

          I am pretty sick of this Monday morning quarterbacking about Wisconsin right now, and I really should stop reading these diaries.

          But if anyone thinks money is not at the root of it, they are DEAD WRONG. Propaganda is powerful and it is expensive. Particularly when it runs 24/7, 265 days a year and 1 extra day on leap year.

        •  It was. Wisconsin now has a very well (7+ / 0-)

          laid ground game in place. Please inform yourself before you speak. There are Obama offices and phone banking and canvassing organizations ready to go. They don't have to be set up. The voters are excited and active. Hundreds of thousands of people were contacted and are more politically aware. Thousands and thousands of voters registered for the first time and many were Dems. What is wrong with you? Are you arguing for the sake of argument? OR do you just want to make a lot of people who worked their asses off trying to save Wisconsin and this country, by extension, from the Tea Party/Koch brothers/ALEC radical agendas, feel bad about what they did.

          Please inform yourself. There is no evidence to prove that Walker is strengthened. ALEC was exposed due to the recall uprising. No one even had heard of ALEC before that and they have been up to their model legislation for 25 years and growing more bold every year. They have been called out. Members are leaving them and their brand is ruined. This alone was a huge, huge triumph for Wisconsin recallers. You really need to catch up.  

          "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

          by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:31:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you rubyr. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rubyr, JamieG from Md, churchlady

            I fail to see why the left is so eager to blame themselves so profoundly and actually buy the right wing spin of these events.

            It is so emo. The right never gets emo. We need to stop this.

            I'm not saying that examining failures is bad: it is good! But it needs to be balanced by unemotional reality.

            •  I am totally unemotional (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rigcath, emelyn, Neuroptimalian

              in my analysis.

              Are you unaware of the polls that show how toxic the idea of recall was to so many otherwiser reachable voters?

              I hope that good will come out of this. But a lot of bad has also. And unlike a normal election, this was, if it was an error, a self-inflicted one.

              I am on the same side as all of you. But please don't accuse me of swallowing Repub talking points or being a defeatist or emotional. None of that is true.

              •  Unemotional and without insight is no bargain (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rubyr, rigcath

                Congrats on your Spock-like detachment to emotion. Jeers to your defeatist attitude

                •  Amen!!! n.t. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

                  by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:16:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  My initial point (0+ / 0-)

                  was and is that recall was unlikely because a core group of voters was opposed to that, though they didn't like Walker. And being aware of that fact (yes a fact) should inform this discussion and how the progressive movement procedes in the future.

                  I am happy to engage in a discussion of this point. But if the response is going to be a total dismissal of the merits of this viewpoint, then for me that is a symptom of a problem.

                  •  Then your initial point is nonsense (0+ / 0-)

                    because the polling data you're referring to comes from exit polling. About 60% disapproved of the recall, about 57% of eligible voters turned out, so at most you can say 34% of eligible voters actually expressed that sentiment. Most of those were probably Republicans as well.

                    Of the 43% who didn't turn out, you can pretend they agree with you if want to, but you have zero evidence that that's true. That in fact is the problem. Those 43% are about the same number who didn't turn out in 2010.

                    In terms of numbers, about 600,000 voters who voted for Obama in 2008 didn't vote for Barrett in either 2010 or 2012.  Walker got slightly fewer votes than McCain in 2010, slightly more in 2012 (Barrett also beat his 2010 total in 2012). Those numbers make it pretty hard to find the "recall hating" voters you pretend swayed the election, unless you mean Republicans, in which case, who cares?

                    What that points to is that Dems have a hard time getting their voters to turn out and vote, which is hardly news. Your explanation for one data point can't even be applied to any other election, and probably isn't even relevant for this one.

                    It's never too late to have a happy childhood - Tom Robbins

                    by badger on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:22:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Seriously (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      I am totally respectful toward you and in awe of your commitment.

                      Could I ask a little of the same?

                      I made zero reference to why those who didn't vote chose not to - I have no idea why you refer to that.

                      I do refer to polling I saw which showed that there was a large pool of actual voters who voted for Walker for the reason that they opposed any recall based on political disagreements. Are you disputing this?

                      Please make this less personal. I haven't done this. I excuse you for it, but at some point it detracts from the discussion.

              •   I am on the same side as all of you. (0+ / 0-)

                No!!  If that were true, you would listen.

                "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

                by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:18:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  We listen. (0+ / 0-)

                  But we know that those with opposing opinions do not possess a crystal ball of unchallengeable truth.  Opinions are just that without proven facts to back them up.

                  "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

                  by Neuroptimalian on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 01:53:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  voters were opposed to recall b/c Walker told them (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AnnieJo, churchlady

                to be - over, and over, and over.  And unfortunately we didn't have the money or the foresight, I guess, to tell them otherwise.  

                Walker, your pink slip is coming, unless the orange jumpsuit gets you first.

                by non acquiescer on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 01:28:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Well, Boehner... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rigcath, badscience

              Exception to the Emo rule I'd say.

              Those who "Stand with Walker" fall for anything.

              by GenXBadger on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:11:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  A large number of WI votes think Walker is great (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoMoreLies, AnnieJo, GeoffT

          Stand by your point all you want. I'll stand right here in WI and tell you your point is wrong. I'm glad your view did not sieze the day last year.

          Unions are more threatened now than if there had been no recall? There would be right-to-work legislation on Walker's desk right now if there had been no recall.

          You are grossly misinformed, insane or a little from column A and a little from column B.

          you point isn't "getting through" because your point is foolish.

      •  To hell with that noise. Amen!!! Sick of it. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badscience, Quicklund

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:24:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The reason it rang true was months of uncontested (4+ / 0-)

      advertising carrying that message.

    •  I think Ed Schultz and John Nichols disposed (5+ / 0-)

      of your argument on Wednesday night.  It took me a while to find this video, but it is a lot more informed than your opinion from the vantage point of California.  People heard that the recall was bad for months and months, without a counterargument being presented.  Advertising works. eom

      Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

  •  The Romney plan. (0+ / 0-)

    Mitt Romney wants to publicly hold off on his plan to improve the economy, put more people to work, and raise profit for share holders.  He, like Scott Walker wants to get elected first, then after in office, put his plan into motion.

    Mitt Romney wants to lower the minimum wage to $3.80 an hour.  He feels this will triple the work force, and improve the economy, and raise profit for share holders.

    This is not a good plan.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:15:19 AM PDT

  •  um no (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dopeman, Aquarius40, emelyn
    He lost because he didn't present a solid argument for supporting him over his opponent.
    He lost because many people thought a recall should only be used for misconduct rather than policy differences.

    been proven already.

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:27:19 AM PDT

  •  Young Voters Stayed Home Again..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annecros, Aquarius40

    16% voted this time, 20% voted in 2008.  The recall was held at the wrong time......summertime.  Students went home.  Walker won by 171,000.  The students would have made the difference.  

    60% of Wisconsin voters said they didn't like recalls unless criminal activity had occurred.  Give it until the end of the month when the job numbers come out & the John Doe investigation proceeds.

    Move on.....we have an election to win.  

  •  Don't forget (3+ / 0-)

    88% in exit polls said they made up there minds before April. SO, the money did matter, but it matter in Jan - Feb and March when Walker had the air waves and local media to himself. Similar to 2004 when Kerry lost it in August when his advertising went silent. The case for the recall needed to be reaffirmed constantly during those 3 months. The Dems never reminded voters that WIS Gov's for most of the State's history only served 2 year terms. Also they didn't maintain the case about Walker's lying. He stated under oath to Congress that ending collective bargaining had nothing to do with balancing the budget. That should have been a main thrust of an early ad campaign cause it went to the trust issue.

    •  But (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exterris, Sunspots

      the election was about whether or not to replace Scott Walker with Tom Barrett, not just about getting rid of Walker. I think the Democrats did make an effective case for recalling Walker, but they were missing 50% of their argument by not selling Barrett effectively.

      "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

      by rigcath on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:40:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what the election was about & what the electorate (5+ / 0-)

        voted upon are two different things.

        How it ended up that way was governed by the money spent prior to April.

        Look, I agree that there were other factors influencing the outcome of this electino. No doubt on that whatsoever. Timing (chosen by Walker), electoral fatigue to name but two.

        But the money mattered, when it was spent mattered.

        The audience open to persuasion had drastically diminished by the time Barrett brought his guns to bear. Money made that happen.

  •  Rig, you are VERY close to it. (6+ / 0-)

    Our messaging does suck raw lemons, and clearly there is no underlying theme or idea that our leadership tries to promote.

    As Kerry found, empty messaging always loses.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:41:12 AM PDT

  •  18% of theoretical Obama supporters voted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, Aquarius40, NoMoreLies

    for Walker. I don't understand that shit at all. I get not being favor of recalls but there was an opportunity right in front of them to get rid of someone whom they ideologically oppose.

    The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. G.B. Shaw

    by baghavadgita on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:42:47 AM PDT

    •  In CA some people (maybe 5% or so) always vote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      against ballot initiatives. They just don't like them. There could be some of the similar effect there. And in CA ballot initiatives have been around for decades while recalls in WI are rare. Also, Republicans did a good job using ads to push the idea that recall is bad.

  •  Well, the fact that Walker was never (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    valion, emelyn

    really that unpopular to begin with should have been a clue that a recall faced tough sledding.

    Gray Davis's approval ratings were in the 20's, yet his recall succeeded with a modest 55% of the vote.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:55:09 AM PDT

  •  I don't know if money swayed voters (5+ / 0-)

    That is so hard to quantify I'm not even going to try and argue the point.

    But, what I do know is that money sways politicians.  Entities and people with money can and do buy politicians.  That much I think we can all agree on.

    So, honestly, until we get the money out of politics, even our victories are merely slowing down the inevitable slide toward oligarchy.  

    Until enough people understand that money is corrupting the politicians and until those people demand for a constitutional amendment removing the unlimited influence of money in politics we won’t win.  We will simply slow down the inevitable.  

    And the problem is that we have little to fight back with.  They control the message (the media).  They control the politicians.  They have all the money and all the power.  They control the USSC which is the ultimate tie breaker.  

    Until a majority of the people figure this out we will continue to backslide.  I’m afraid that things have to get much worse for people to figure this all out.  And the problem with things getting much worse is that people become afraid.  And when they are afraid they can be manipulated.  So if things do get much worse people may wake up and smell the coffee or they may be manipulated and do something unthinkable.

    Fascism: The conservative notion that killing people makes them work harder

    by madtowntj on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 08:57:05 AM PDT

    •  This I agree with. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madtowntj, AnnieJo

      I think it is extremely naive to think that it is just the message, or a strong candidate.

      The right pushes their memes every day, all day, on a variety of media. Fighting that is going to be our challenge.

      •  Me too (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not suggesting that it's just the message or the lack of a strong candidate. There were a lot of factors contributing to this defeat. But one thing that we, you and I as dkos community members, might be able to help fix is the lack of a sound ideological basis for the Dems' policies.

        "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

        by rigcath on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:08:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It was far more than 7:1 (4+ / 0-)

    Walker and his clown brigade were running ads for months before Barrett was even nominated. In addition to an overwhelming financial advantage, he also had the advantage of being able to lie continuously with no push back for all those months. I do agree with you on the weakness of the Democratic Party. They need to pick a side; either workers or Wall Street. Yet, despite 100+ years of the economy and Wall Street doing far better under Democrats, Wall Street has already made their choice.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:13:46 AM PDT

    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, badscience, rigcath, AnnieJo

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:36:21 AM PDT

  •  And it doesn't help that the Constitution says (0+ / 0-)

    We have to have a Republican government. Of course there wasn't a repub party then me thinks and that is not what it mens but a real dumb ass repub friend informed me that because of that the Constitution mandates Republicans have control of congress.

    Yeah right.

    And the gonzo said it with a straight face.

    Must have been something Rust Bimbo said.

    PS I read it and it is there in black and white but we all know that it is not the Republican party it is refering to.

    Section 4 - Republican government

    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

    Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things. Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) Just A Real Nice Guy, thinking out loud.

    by arealniceguy on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:38:44 AM PDT

  •  Not in 100% agreement here but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rigcath, NoMoreLies

    Thanks for the thoughtful and reasoned argument. Its so easy to fall for group-think especially when we're embroiled in a tough fight and in the minority. We differ mostly in that I think money certainly had a pivotal role, but agree that we can't just chalk the loss up to that. I'll add part of a modified post I put in a buried comment thread the other day as it strikes to the heart of "messenger shooting":

    Here in Wisconsin we got a big problem with ignorance, arrogance and loving our abusers... Walker proudly put out his record (embellished, misrepresented, and spun 3 ways to Sunday) but still won. Over half the voters in this state are fine with what this crook has done so far.

    I by no means want to encourage trolls, but I think it's quite valuable to find the grains of truth in their gibberish. We can't turn a blind eye when they have a point or hit a nerve - otherwise we'll be as clueless as a FOX viewer.

    Note: I am not equating this dairy's author "rigcath" to a troll - block quote is from another thread altogether.

    Those who "Stand with Walker" fall for anything.

    by GenXBadger on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 09:49:39 AM PDT

  •  Well said! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "just meekly defending what we've already accomplished."

    Puts it better than my last few rants on the same subject.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:22:08 AM PDT

  •  Tons of money dried up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when the unions could no longer collect dues.  How much money could have been spent for Barrett had the unions had more member's money?

  •  While I like your argument viscerally, I don't (0+ / 0-)

    think you even need to go there.  Polling showed that most voters simply didn't think being really bad for the state was a recall-able offense.  In the face of that and the enormous outspending, I doubt if it would have mattered if the perfect Dem had run in Barrett's place.

  •  no, not the money- its the radio and messaging by (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rigcath, NoMoreLies

    Our side is doomed to failure as long as RW radio dominates so much of the country while the left looks the other way.

    GOP pols like Walker ride the RW radio bandwagon of coordinated repetition and it's only been successful because it is unchallenged, ignored, and invisible to most of the left, as they wait for high speed connections for every car.

    Considering the time lost on global warming ignoring talk radio has been the biggest blunder in political history.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:28:53 AM PDT

    •  "Coordinated repetition" (0+ / 0-)

      That phrase is spot-on. The Dems need to start using it as a tactic; it's just crazy to me that they don't, seeing how successful it's been for the GOP.

      "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

      by rigcath on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:35:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Need a better alternative (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When there is a good alternative, people will tune in.  Air America failed because most of the hosts had no broadcast experience and were very painful to listen to.  Not to mention, it get's old listening to someone rant for 3 hours.  Think about how long you could listen to Lawrence O'Donnell on a day-in day-out basis.  

      •  I'd rather not... (0+ / 0-)

        O'Donnell's about as grating as Ed Schultz....

        Plus Air America's other big problem was that the good talent they did find and foster (Al Franken, Rachel Maddow) left the network for greener pastures as soon as they were getting popular. I was an avid listener until Rachel joined MSNBC.

        "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

        by rigcath on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:40:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree but it's irrelevant thinking in terms o (0+ / 0-)

        Of trying to compete with their well established monopoly.
        If americans want democracy they need to use all legal means neutralize that advantage.  So far the last20 years there has been no organized opposition to the rights best weapon.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:03:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Abortion rights have always been about (0+ / 0-)

    as popular as they are now.  It's a truly weird thing about the subject: public opinion barely budges over time.

  •  I agree with you, (0+ / 0-)

    just not sure who that "we" is anymore. Democrats haven't resembled my idea of Democrats for a long, long time. Maybe that's it -- Democrat is an idea that has rarely been fully reified. But it's a long time since it's even come close. And beginning with Clinton, faggitaboutit. Yet any third party talk is shouted down as unrealistic or treacherous.  Wisconsin, such a beautiful state, is now a crucible for how American fascism would look and work. The electorate has stopped making sense.

    Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell ya the truth -- B. Dylan

    by ponderer on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:44:12 AM PDT

  •  Another thing to consider is that... (0+ / 0-)

    a majority of Wisconsinites either didn't like the idea of a recall election, or thought that a recall should only occur when something of a criminal nature happens, not simply policy disagreements.

    So it's not that they were voting for Walker, it's that they were voting against the recall.

    •  Who convinced them to think that about recalls? (4+ / 0-)

      Walker advertising and the right-wing media.  In an endless squawking unanswered loop, ever since January.

      If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

      by AnnieJo on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:49:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be fair you also have to blame (0+ / 0-)

        the fact that the very few Barret ads that did get on the air didn't hit on this topic hard at all.  They talked about how bad the bills are without talking about the gross dishonest conduct with which they were passed.  Recalls are like impeachments by the people instead of by the senate.  And like impeachments they do need to have gross misconduct to be valid in a lot of people's minds, which is why I despaired every time I saw yet another pro Barret ad that simply said "but unions are good, why hurt them?" instead of hitting on the illegal things he did to GET that bill through.  The fact that we like unions and Walker doesn't is not what wins anti-union people over to our side.  The fact that he outright lied did.  The fact that he's a dictator who abused his power as governor to oppress dissenting speech, prevent the public from seeing deliberations (which is against the constitution!),  and that he's a hypocrite by imposing a system of fraudulent election onto unions that would have prevented HIMSELF from getting into power had it been implemented in the 2010 election for governor (the system that assumes one side is hardcoded to always get to count as its own votes the people who didn't vote.)

        That last one was really heinous.  Want to piss off a few right wingers?  Point out that this is the exact same voting scheme that was used in Soviet Russia.  I'm not kidding.  On voting day there if you didn't walk to the booth to mark your ballot and just dropped it blank in the box right after being given it, you were counted as voting for all the party's preferred candidates in all races.  The only people who had to actually use the booths were people writing in some alternative instead.  Therefore walking to the "privacy" booth with your ballot to mark it was itself an obvious sign to the people watching the polling area that you are a dissenter.  People playing along with the party line just dropped the ballot in the box blank as is, utterly destroying any semblance of privacy in the vote - just like the new union voting rules work - if you make any effort at all to BOTHER voting, they know which side you're voting for by that alone.

        Where were the ads pointing this out?  I pointed it out to a few people in person, and when gathering signatures and on GOTV but where was this message in the ADS?  No, I'm not talking about the outspending problem (which was a huge problem) but the fact that what little money there was on ads were misspent on the wrong message - a message that only convinces people who already agree.

        The message that recall requires gross misconduct is absolutely right.  The problem is that while this massive gross misconduct definitely existed for those voters to latch onto if they had been told about it, it wasn't the primary focus of the ads so many of them didn't really get that part of the message.

  •  Dr Drew can help (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rigcath, NoMoreLies

    No, not that Dr Drew...

    “I know you’re scared and angry. Many of you have lost your jobs, your homes, your hope. This was a disaster, but it was not a natural disaster. It was made by Wall Street gamblers who speculated with your lives and futures. It was made by conservative extremists who told us that if we just eliminated regulations and rewarded greed and recklessness, it would all work out. But it didn’t work out. And it didn’t work out 80 years ago, when the same people sold our grandparents the same bill of goods, with the same results. But we learned something from our grandparents about how to fix it, and we will draw on their wisdom. We will restore business confidence the old-fashioned way: by putting money back in the pockets of working Americans by putting them back to work, and by restoring integrity to our financial markets and demanding it of those who want to run them. I can’t promise that we won’t make mistakes along the way. But I can promise you that they will be honest mistakes, and that your government has your back again.” A story isn’t a policy. But that simple narrative — and the policies that would naturally have flowed from it — would have inoculated against much of what was to come in the intervening two and a half years of failed government, idled factories and idled hands. That story would have made clear that the president understood that the American people had given Democrats the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress to fix the mess the Republicans and Wall Street had made of the country, and that this would not be a power-sharing arrangement. It would have made clear that the problem wasn’t tax-and-spend liberalism or the deficit — a deficit that didn’t exist until George W. Bush gave nearly $2 trillion in tax breaks largely to the wealthiest Americans and squandered $1 trillion in two wars.
    the other problem the Democrats face is they serve too many masters and the Wall Street masters have taken over the party. hence the Booker/Bill Clinton problem with Bain and tax cuts for the rich.

    Our party has a Frank Luntz, its Drew Westen, but we don't utilize him because our party serves too many masters and can't be as direct as Westen suggests.

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:08:47 PM PDT

  •  You are dead wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    A Recall election is significantly different from a normal election in one very big way that is highly relevant to your claims.  That way is this:

    In a normal election the voter is thinking, "It's the normal time for that regular contest our democracy needs to have every so often to pick the future direction of governance.  I have to pick one of these, which one do I think has the better platform?  Hey look this candidate takes too much time to say his opponent is bad and not enough time to tell me why he's good.  That makes me suspicious.  Hmm."  

    In other words, in a NORMAL election it works like you say.  A positive campaign works better than a negative one.

    But this is not a normal election.  This was a recall election.

    In a recall election the voter is thinking, "People are telling me this is a special exception case where the incumbent did something so horrible that it warrants unseating him before his normal term is up.  Is he really that bad?  I might not like the guy's policies and I might prefer the other guy's policies, but does that really warrant kicking him out prematurely like this?  That seems extreme.  How bad was what he did?  Was it bad enough for a recall?  Oh look, his opponent isn't really talking about what the incumbent did wrong to deserve recall!  All he does is talk himself up as being great and awesome and having such better policies... yeah... but... this isn't about him.  It's about unseating the incumbent.  And he's not telling me what was so horrible about what the incumbent did.... I'm suspicious."

    In a recall election it's reversed.  Going negative works better than going positive because a recall IS all about the incumbent.  It really is.  You must overcome the hurdle in the voter's mind that "recalls are supposed to be exceptions.  The incumbent has to be more than merely someone I disagree with.  It has to be far far more severe than that."  And THAT is where the Barret campaign failed.

    The recall-worthy things that happened under Walker were the way he and his cronies put his policies through without due process and repeatedly bypassed democratic (small "d') procedures.  Basically a recall is like an impeachment by the people when the senate is in the pocket of the governor and won't do it.

    The fact that Walker busted the unions and destroyed Wisconsin's traditions of liberal power is disgusting, but not gross misconduct, and not worthy of an impeachment by the people.  What WAS worthy of an impeachment by the people was the methods by which he did it - violating open meetings laws (keeping deliberations secret from the public kills democracy) - using his position as boss and head rule-maker of state public works buildings like the capitol grounds in order to stifle his opposition's voice, blatantly lying, and so on.

    The problem wasn't that the challenger's ads went negative about the incumbent.  That's the correct thing to do, both tactically and morally, in a recall election.  The problems was that they went negative on the wrong issues.  By making it about "do you or don't you like the anti-union policies of the tea party?" it became left vs right politics and everybody just voted the same way they voted before, instead of being about "do you prefer a democracy or a dictatorship?", which might make some people mad at Walker because they voted for him.

    I suspect if Wisconsin had the same recall system as California, Walker would have been kicked out.  In California, you have a two-step election.  FIRST you vote a simple yes or no to kick out the incumbent WITHOUT KNOWING YET who the new replacement will be, and then if that vote says "yes kick out the incumbent", THEN you have a second election a little bit later to pick who the replacement will be (an election in which the incumbent isn't allowed to run but other members of the same party are allowed to run.)

    I think there'd be a lot more Republican "defectors" if they thought they had a way to replace Walker while still holding out hope that the replacement wouldn't necessarily be a Democrat.

    Recalls can, and SHOULD be about the incumbent first and foremost, not the challenger.

    Going negative is exactly the correct thing to do because if the incumbent didn't do anything wrong, there shouldn't BE a recall.  Barret's campaign didn't do it enough about the right sorts of things.

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