We should have easily beaten Walker. The guy has an inability to tell the truth, breaks the law, raised taxes on the middle class, has the worst job creation performance of any governor, failed to balance the budget, has creepy eyes, is shorter than Barrett, and is a union buster.
But we lost. To this asshole.
Compared to Walker, Romney looks like a model candidate. One week after the Wisconsin loss, there are five important lessons that we should take to heart to avoid repeating the same mistakes in November.
1. Lying has no downside. Walker is the most dishonest governor in America according to politifact (politifact!), as just 11% of his statements are "true". Yawn. I know most of us lefties are shocked by how much Romney lies. But in an age of unlimited money, lying is the new normal. Nobody cares about lying because...
2. Money is power. Money is speech, and more money is louder speech. When you are getting outspent 9 to 1, there's no debate, it's a monologue. Loud lies will beat quiet truths all day long. Everybody says that the problem was that the left couldn't sell people on the idea of the recall. Well, somehow Walker sold everyone on the bizarre notion that county executive recalls are good (how he came to power), but governor recalls are bad. We see this same pattern of lying and spending millions promoting the lies with Romney. Money and lies work well together.
3. Corruption has no downside. Every single person who worked for Walker in his county executive office was arrested or given immunity. Yawn. It didn't affect the election. Walker's followers just thought the arrests were politically motivated, and nobody else heard much about it because of #2. Most lefties/independents are cynical about politicians anyways, so if we're trying to increase turnout, a good corruption story just gives an advantage to team righty (they turn out regardless).
4. Unions are weak. Right now unions use old-school methods (e.g. going door to door with a clipboard), that don't seem to work. In general, union members aren't the most charismatic or dynamic people out there -- even 38 percent of union members' spouses voted for Walker. Sending non-charismatic union folks door-to-door can't compete with a full-on Madison avenue marketing campaign that hits people in their living rooms. Its like a sling shot versus a laser-guided missile. The sling shot has some nostalgia, but I'd put my money on the Madison Avenue missile.
5. Whoever owns the word "freedom" wins. I have no idea how the right has hijacked this word. Walker drops the word freedom all the time. Here is a segment from Walker's 2011 inauguration speech.
Our rights as free people are given by our creator, not the government. Among these rights is the right to nurture our freedom and vitality through limited government.He says "free" eight times in these six consecutive sentences, and this speech is nearly identical to every speech he says. Of course it's a lie. The 400 billionaires who own more than half of the country and desperately want the other half sure don't seem concerned with freedom for anyone but themselves.
These rights were articulated in our original constitution. They were never amended nor revised. And these rights are evident and expressed in our cherished freedoms. Among them... freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Article I, Section 22 of the state constitution reads so eloquently: "The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles."
Today, in this inauguration, we affirm these values and fundamental principles. It is through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people.
The only freedom the right offers is freedom from freedom -- freedom to be robots/slaves/dittoheads of those at the top who have all the money and power. Those on the right repeat the lie that if we destroy the only thing standing between us and our would-be oppressors, freedom (not oppression) will magically appear.
The left offers true freedom. The freedom to spend time with your family, freedom to earn more money (via unions), freedom to grow, freedom to learn, freedom to say what you want, freedom to not be afraid of drinking dirty water, freedom to not go bankrupt when you are sick, freedom to leave your job and become an entrepreneur (because of Obamacare).
When people think of Obama, the first thing they need to think of is freedom. When they think of Romney they need to think of oppression, because that is honestly the only thing that Republicans offer.
That's why righty politicians have to lie so much -- they need 51% of people to sign up for greater oppression, which is a tough sell.
After witnessing Wisconsin, I'm convinced that the winning candidate will be the one who is most closely aligned with freedom. Democrats are the only party that offers freedom, but the only problem is that we often lack the money to remind people of it.
Walker has taught me that the only thing that matters is talking about freedom. That's it. If we do that, we win.