Scott Walker’s victory an object lesson in progressives earning their votes

Posted: June 7, 2012 in democracy, economic justice
Tags: , , , ,

So, the recall election in Wisconsin happened, and sadly, it was a complete non-event, with the union-busting, constitution-ignoring republican and his lieutenant-governor both surviving the recall election.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, and it’s one that large progressive (or progressive-sounding) parties almost always need to learn. It’s quite simple: The right might vote if it feels threatened, but the left only votes when they feel hopeful or excited. You can’t tell us you deserve our votes, we require convincing- you need our enthusiastic support in order to turn out the young, disenfranchised, minority, and otherwise new voters that swing elections left. You can’t run a candidate who thinks raising taxes on the undertaxed elite is wrong, who is against prosecuting financial fraud, who doesn’t support campaign finance reform, who is complete centre-right milquetoast, and still feel entitled to win, even against someone as atrocious as Scott Walker.

Part of the problem here is the brokenness of the primary process- it often requires extra money from candidates to win, (pushing the election rightwards) and it also requires an extraordinary effort from voters to engage with. (as you actually have to be present in a room at a certain time to vote in most US primaries) If the Democratic Party agreed not to advertise during primaries and held them by mail ballot, they would have a much more representative candidate in the end. Of course, part of the problem here is that democrats don’t want to represent their constituency, they want to balance that with (or sometimes, ignore it in favour of) courting large corporate donors.

If they had run someone for governor that the recall supporters and the rest of Wisconsin could have supported, instead of trying to “grin and Barrett”, Democrats could have swept walker out of the governorship by turning out new voters. Instead they got the centrists who have been misled by an unprecedented (and in some specific cases, illegal) advertising push to believe that this is a partisan, unjustified recall, rather than a statement that the abuse of law, process, and illegal union-busting of the Walker administration deserves to be cut short.

All the more reason why in any other country, the Democrats would be considered the right-wing party. Watching them try to win elections is incredibly frustrating for all but the furthest left of its candidates, and even then, those democrats aren’t perfect either, and would probably belong in the left wing of the Labour Party in New Zealand.

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