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Posted by on Jun 7, 2012 in At TMV | 7 comments

The Auction Election that Killed Labor

WASHINGTON – Karl Rove and Company put Wisconsin up for sale and Democrats didn’t make a serious bid. You can’t get outspent 10 to 1 and expect to survive. If they don’t take this on the road they’re nuts.

With his defeat of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the union leaders who rallied for months against Walker’s agenda, the rising GOP star became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt. – Walker survives recall election in Wisconsin [AP]

Pres. Obama was never going to show up in Wisconsin, because that’s not who he is, but the aversion Democrats have in the Obama era to pull out all the stops and take it to the right is why our entire political discussion has gone so far rightward that before getting their asses handed to them Democrats were saying things like “Wisconsin gives progressives something to build on.” For Christ’s sake, people, that’s the headline on Katrina vanden Heuvel’s Washington Post column on Tuesday! If that’s what The Nation‘s editor and publisher is telling progressives, Democrats are in more trouble than anyone guessed and that’s saying something coming from me.

The retiring congressman, known for his bluntness, is not the first Democrat to blast his own side for pushing for the recall: former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) told The Hill earlier on Wednesday that the race was a “dumb political fight” for labor to have picked.Barney Frank: Dems, unions made ‘big mistake’ in pushing for Wisconsin recall

With Rep. Frank and Ed Rendell castigating labor for fighting for its life, it’s hard to see exactly where the Democratic Party is willing to draw a battle line. This is a problem and if you don’t see that you’re part of it.

If you think that’s clueless read the AFLCIO’s Twitter feed. Two examples from Tuesday night:

Win or lose, Scott Walker has joined ignominious company in suffering the humiliation of a recall election. 3rd ever.

We wanted a different outcome, but WI forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people

Oh, sweet Jesus on a biscuit, Scott Walker WON and so did other Republicans, with one seat giving Democrats the claim of controlling the state senate.

Michael Moore tweeted this on Tuesday night: Lose a battle here & there, but trust me we’ll win the war. History proves one thing: The good guys sooner or later win. Hate cannot sustain.

Yeah it can, if it’s got unlimited resources and an opponent who won’t suit up.

Meanwhile, the Republican machine smartly, expertly and without looking back amassed millions of dollars in Wisconsin to continue systematically destroying an important engine of progressivism through an entirely legal process that Democrats and progressives disdain so thoroughly they’d rather lose than play the game that gets it done.

Congratulations, Karl, Chuck and Dave, et al. You put the state of Wisconsin up for auction, with a front man who had exactly what it took to make the case: firm convictions, regardless of the fact that he’s wrong and his policies will harm the middle class, a plan to execute, and the unwavering support of his base who had his back because he has theirs and is not pulling any punches in implementing what they say they want done.

Democrats ought to try it.

Many Democrats and progressives analyzing what happened inevitably get down to saying no one should worry, because Pres. Obama remains safe for November.

To quote part of a Howard Kurtz tweet, which you’ll hear parroted exhaustively today by the usual suspects, “…Obama’s decision not to go there (and own the loss) was politically smart.”

Because after all, that’s all that matters.

OFA-Wisconsin statement on tonight’s Governor’s race

“While tonight’s outcome was not what we had hoped for – no one can dispute the strong message sent to Governor Walker. Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites from all walks of life took a stand against the politics of division and against the flood of secret and corporate money spent on behalf of Scott Walker, which amounted to a massive spending gap of more than $31 million to $4 million. It is a testament to all of those individuals who talked to their friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the stakes in this election of how close this contest was. The power of Wisconsin’s progressive, grassroots tradition was clearly on display throughout the run up to this election and we will continue to work together to ensure a brighter future for Wisconsin’s middle class. This vision was shared by the voters tonight, as exit polling showed President Obama beating Mitt Romney 52-43, a 9-point difference. On the questions of who would do a better job on the economy and who would help the middle class the most, President Obama again held a strong advantage over Romney. These data points clearly demonstrate a very steep pathway for Mitt Romney to recover in the state.”

—- Tripp Wellde, State Director, OFA-Wisconsin

Translation: Rah! Rah! That twelve dimensional chess is always a winner. For Barack Obama, which is all anyone seems to think about.

A squishy Democrat who is basically the same as a Republican and sounds weaker isn’t going to cut it.

A squishy Democrat who feels the same about unions as Republicans do won’t either, especially when the Republican won’t mince words and the Democrat is scared to do the same for fear of scaring off independents; never mind that he loses some of his base. Barrett lost 38% of union households to Walker, because Barrett wasn’t their guy and proved it by taking collective bargaining off the table and out of the race. Oh, and the recall was stupid, because Barrett couldn’t frame it in a way to make it matter, and for him it was obviously a rematch of 2010, which didn’t convince anyone uncertain that it was actually worth it.

Voters won’t vote Democrats in when the policies they champion aren’t making their lives better, more secure, and they have to pay more taxes for the privilege.

I’ve got more respect for the Karl, Chuck and Dave contingent than I do for all of the elite Democratic politicians and strategists combined. Karl’s men knew what they had to do, what it would take and what it would cost, then they did it, took it, and forked over a little more for good measure.

Wisconsin was lost before it began.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog covers national politics, women and power.

Paul Szep cartoon used with permission.

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