Please, contribute $8 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to help recall eight Republican state Senators.
Photo by Melissa Ryan
The common characteristic of the constituent parts of the Democratic coalition is the experience of being an outsider.
This is revealed by a quick rundown of the four demographic groups that voted more than 2-1 Democratic in every election since 2006: non-whites, non-Christians, single women and the LGBT community. (Groups listed by order of percentage of electorate. See the 2006, 2008 and 2010 exit polls for more data.).
If you don't fit into any of those four categories, and you are still a Democrat, odds are that you are an economic outsider of some sort. That is, you either in a union or you are poor. Although they were not included in 2010 exit poll, Americans making less than $15,000 a year voted 70% Democratic on average in 2006 and 2008. Unions members didn't quite vote 2-1 Democratic across the last three elections, but with an average of about 64% they came close.
Crudely speaking, in the face of a straight, white, Christian, married, non-poor and non-unionized plurality, the Democratic Party is the coalition of everyone else. Or, perhaps it's more accurate to say that it's the party of "everyone-elses," since the groups making up the Democratic coalition are diverse both internally and relative to one another.
This exceptional diversity is also one of the problems Democrats face when attempting to assemble a coherent political operation. Even leaving aside the long-term difficulties issue-group silos present for the center-left, most of the major institutions Democrats use for mobilization--the netroots, unions, urban machines, and minority-majority churches--often lack shared goals and coordination.
The cultural differences between the various "everyone-elses" involved are one of the main reasons for this disorganization. For example, according to every survey I've ever seen, the netroots are dominated by the sizable non-Christian branch of the party, in addition to being both disproportionately LGBT and in possession of a post-graduate degree. This makes us quite distinct from the unions, churches and urban machines that Dems have relied on for decades. We tend to not work together, not worship together, not live together and not hang out together. The result is that we tend to not join in the same political fights together, at least outside of general elections.
If you will forgive me for being elliptical and finally returning to the subject promised by the title of this article, that last sentence is why the new labor uprising is potentially so dangerous for Republicans. In these fights, the interests and organizing of labor, the netroots, and the Democratic Party are very closely aligned. The result has been astoundingly effective activism: tens of thousands of people at continuous rallies, a constant buzz from progressive media covering the rallies, paid media campaigns of high quality and quantity funded by the people consuming that coverage, and Democratic elected officials willing to use whatever procedural means necessary to take the fight as far as possible. It's caused at least the temporary disappearance of what my astute friend Matt Stoller called "the rootsgap,"--a lack of alignment between the interests of the grassroots and the leaders of a political movement.
In Wisconsin, all of the "everyone-elses" are joined together in a coherent political operation, and we are winning because of it. Despite the full-backing of the iron fist of the conservative movement, a newly elected hard-right Governor has seen his approval ratings plummet to around 40% only two months after taking office. That's unheard of.
If what happened in Wisconsin is replicated elsewhere, then conservatives are in a deep pile of doo-doo. They know it, too. Tea party groups are sending out fundraising emails on Wisconsin admitting that they are losing:
A new email soliciting donations from the Tea Party Express and Our Country Deserves sent out Saturday says that recent polls and an ad campaign by pro-labor groups are getting the upper hand and that conservatives backing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) bill to roll back collective bargaining rights are starting to cede ground.
"Friends, new polls coming out in Wisconsin show that the Obama-Labor Union ad campaign against him is having an impact," the e-mail says. "Governor Walker has started losing ground, even though polls had previously shown him winning the "public relations war."
That's right--now the tea party is scared of us. How sweet it is. These are exciting times.
Let's keep this up, and give them reason to be even more scared. Please, contribute $8 to Democratic Party of Wisconsin to recall eight Republican state Senators. It feels good to be winning, but it will feel even better when we actually win.
Update: And we are over 6,500 donors for the Wisconsin campaign1 6,500. Can we reach 7,000?