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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Happened To The People’s Rage Against The Machine?

I was perhaps one of few political Wisconsin bloggers before the election asking Obama, national democrats and national unions to stay out of our fight in Wisconsin. Call me naïve. Call me self-defeating and crazy, but if this fight was between the people of Wisconsin and our reprehensible Governor, there was no way we could lose. But the fact is, we weren’t facing just Scott Walker. The gods of the GOP came down from the right-wings of heaven onto Wisconsin, they split the skies and divided the state for Scott Walker like Moses parted the Red Sea.

They came down on a leaderless, platform-less and program-less peoples movement and squashed it like a grape. That’s our fault. But we ran against the almighty machine with what some view as a weak candidate and truth is - it was not a blow-out. However, I’m not trying to sugar coat it - WE LOST!

But again, call me naïve. The state Democratic party and the state unions did their parts. The Democratic party, for good or bad, gave us a candidate in Tom Barrett and some organizational capabilities. Hey, the movement did not have its own candidate. The unions gave us the urgency, some funding and showed Wisconsin what was at stake. The movement had no funding mechanism of its own. United Wisconsin ran a nearly flawless campaign for the Recall petition. The rest was up to us. In the end, it’s WE the people, with all of our frailties and fears, political hang-ups and ignorance that failed. I include myself in that group.

But I’m hearing the exact opposite from inside the blogosphere. That it's all Obama’s fault. The national DNC did not come through. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin failed, and the unions are an empty hollow shell of nothingness. We were all supposed to sit back and watch others fight our fight and if we lost - blame them. I don’t buy any it. But that’s all I’m hearing lately and the GOP and their astro-turf allies are licking their chops just hoping we divide and conquer ourselves even further.

The Progressive Excerpt:
(Rothchild: Accountability In Defeat In Wisconsin)
Meanwhile, the movement—a real giant grassroots movement, which flooded the capitol square with more than 100,000 people and which gathered a million recall signatures—is disintegrating.

Actually, it began to disintegrate the moment the leaders (and who were they, exactly?) decided to pour everything into the Democratic Party channels rather than explore the full potential of the power that was latent but present in the streets back in February and March of 2011.

There never were any leaders. I’ve been to two major rallies in Madison and a couple in Janesville and there was nobody regional, local or otherwise presenting a game plan or a platform. Nothing. Zero.

The Progressive Excerpt:
Procedurally, decisions were made (again, who made them?) in a very undemocratic way. Here we had 100,000 people storming the square but there was no effort to include them in any meaningful—or even symbolic—decision-making process. No voice votes, no show of hands, no breaking up into smaller groups and reconvening with a set of demands and desires that flowed from below, no people’s mic ala the Occupy Movement.

We were just protesting. That’s it!

However, don’t underestimate the powers that we lost to and don't believe stories that this was a cakewalk for the GOP. With all of our incompetence and disorganization, we faced the most powerful political machines in the country all at the same time in the RNC, the Tea Party, Americans For Prosperity, over a dozen billionaires, the Wisconsin right-wing media, Chambers of Commerce and several smaller right-wing issue groups brimming with cash - and lost by only a few percentage points. So we must not short sell ourselves either. They treated this election as if it was for the supreme ruler of the universe. They were prepared to move the heavens and the Earth for Scott Walker – and they did. They had their entire national ideology, vision and existence on the line. Unfortunately for us, we only wanted our state back.

The movement in Wisconsin is still alive but in my view it is at an important crossroad. Without centralized leadership, I would much hope to see the formation of local political committees and coalitions to begin looking at local and regional issues, get-out-the-vote teams for local candidates, messaging campaigns and start taking our state back one piece at a time by electing real people for local office. Local, local, local.

Our opposition is light years ahead of us in this, and is the precise reason why they're winning. Need some proof? Janesville and Rock county voted for Tom Barrett in 2010 and rejected Walker by an even greater margin in the Recall, yet during the interim we elected 3 Republicans to represent the area in the state assembly and recent winners for the Rock County Board and Janesville City Council are all tea party/right-wing candidates. Need I say more?

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