Now that I've had time to lick my wounds, I'm very interested in what is to be learned by
the loss of the recall in Wisconsin. And there's no one lesson, but many. This diary:
had some very interesting, and I believe important answers. Another article that has caught my attention, because it wicked my worst fears for November is this article by Paul Begala on the Daily Beast:
Begala takes on the air war vs. the ground war. Follow me below the orange cloud to find out why the ground war is not nearly sufficient to win. Wasn't in Wisconsin, and won't be in November.
First let me say, that the biggest hurt for me in this thing was that despite our passionate ground game, and the incredible work of so many, it wasn't enough. We so hoped that this would be another Meg Whitman election, where all the money in the world couldn't beat people power.
And Walker did have all the money in the world, or might as well have. And he used that money almost exclusively on TV, for months. Here's Begala's words on this:
It has become fashionable in progressive circles for activists and donors to delude themselves into thinking that a tidal wave of advertising can be answered by an army of grassroots organizers. It can’t.Begala then goes on to make the case that liberals are outnumbered by 21 to 36% by conservatives in Wisconsin, so centrist Democrats and independents must be won over to win. He shares this startling fact:
...consider this from John McCormack of the conservative Weekly Standard: even if every single person eligible to vote in the Democratic bastions of Dane County (Madison) and Milwaukee County (Barrett’s base) had voted—not just every registered voter, but 100 percent of everyone legally allowed to vote—Walker would still have won.His point is that although extremely important, the ground game must be a follow up, NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR, a platform that has had ample exposure, and the most powerful place that happens is in TV political advertising. And that costs money, and lots of it.
Why Wisconsin Democrats didn't have that kind of money is a source of debate and anger in itself, but not the point of my diary. My point is what's been learned, and how it applies to the next big election down the road in November.
I have read this and variations of it here countless times: "I'll vote for Obama, but I won't spend a dime, or a minute of my time on him." I am not interested in attacking that view point, and I have no appetite for a pie right now. Those who are disappointed in Obama are entitled to their opinions and their action choices.
I simply wish to put forth that one of the biggest lessons I'm taking away from Wisconsin is that money is God in politics in this Citizens United era, and I no longer have delusions about the ground game or people power being able to substitute for it.
In other words, GOTV is not enough. Voting is not enough. Last month Obama was out raised by Romney---out raised for the first time ever since he ran in 2008. And as we all know, the right has a Xerox machine when it comes to money. I get a sad kick out of those who try to take solace in the amount of money recallers forced republicans to spend in Wisconsin. That might have been true in the pre Citizens United world, but with super pacs--- bah. There's lots more where that came from, and I would counter that the GOP feels it got an excellent value for its money.
The recall was lost, and that can't be changed, and the point of my diary is not to make excuses, kvetch, or argue. I'm interested in what we need to go "forward." To win in November. And I think Begala makes a very salient point. We ARE going to have a Citizens United election, and everyone from the president on down has little choice but to roll with that, and go after and roll out the money---if we want to win. It stinks to high heaven, but that's the way it is right now.
Furthermore, no matter how much we might think we can choose instead to support the reps of our choice monetarily, instead of the president rather than as well as the president, it cannot be argued that the best bet for every one on the President's down ticket is making sure people come out to vote for Obama. Very few are going to come to vote for a senator or house rep and leave. They're coming first and foremost to vote either for Romney or Obama.
So I'll be donating what I can to the president. I'll be working for him too. It takes both. But I'm sadly convinced that money talks the loudest, and we've got to be able to compete. Policy, morality, whatever. None of it out talks money anymore.
I think of that little video/cartoon clip I so loved here in the 2008 election---the one with Obama, Biden and Hillary bobbing along happily in a jalopy convertible. I think Obama was driving but not sure. If I were to re-configure that clip for 2012, I'd put a sack of money in the driver's seat, holding a can of Red Bull, and bobbing along as if it's the most natural thing in the world. I'd put the democratic candidates in the back seat, not so jaunty anymore.