Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We Are Wisconsin, and We're Already Winner's!

Published: Tuesday 9 August 2011
"Regardless of where we live, any of us who are either in the middle class or struggling to get into the middle class and are appalled by the right-wing assault on fundamental American values can say, "We are Wisconsin."

RE­SIZE TEXT + | - | R
This morn­ing Wis­con­sin vot­ers will stream to the polls in a his­toric re­call elec­tion that pits de­fend­ers of work­ing peo­ple against six in­cum­bents who backed a right-wing leg­isla­tive as­sault on work­ers. It is not too late to give those work­ing-class fight­ers a mas­sive out­pour­ing of last-minute sup­port to counter the tor­rent of right-wing cash that is buy­ing mil­lions of dol­lars' worth of at­tack ads and robo-calls in de­fense of the Re­pub­li­can state Sen­ate in­cum­bents.
Through the "Call Out The Vote" cam­paign by the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee and Democ­racy for Amer­ica, and the "vir­tual phone bank" set up by the Wis­con­sin De­mo­c­ra­tic Party, any­one with a tele­phone can per­suade vot­ers to go to the polls and elect mid­dle-class cham­pi­ons to re­place the in­cum­bents who backed an all-out as­sault on the state's work­ing peo­ple.
Re­gard­less of where we live, any of us who are ei­ther in the mid­dle class or strug­gling to get into the mid­dle class and are ap­palled by the right-wing as­sault on fun­da­men­tal Amer­i­can val­ues can say, "We are Wis­con­sin." Join­ing a phone bank today is one way to show it.
Though it may take sev­eral hours to de­ter­mine if any of the chal­lenged Re­pub­li­can leg­is­la­tors have been un­seated, it is not too early to de­clare one im­por­tant vic­tory for pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics: No longer can con­ser­v­a­tive ex­trem­ists rid­ing the coat­tails of a tea party po­lit­i­cal in­sur­gency as­sume that they can steam­roll over the in­ter­ests of work­ing-class peo­ple with­out a vig­or­ous grass­roots fight from the work­ing class. "They've put the oli­garchs and their po­lit­i­cal lack­eys on no­tice, let­ting them know that it won't be as easy to tram­ple on the pub­lic as they thought," our own Richard Eskow wrote last week.
Article image
The push-back is en­er­giz­ing other move­ments around the coun­try tak­ing a stand against the con­ser­v­a­tive aus­ter­ity agenda and call­ing for it to be re­placed by a jobs-first eco­nomic pro­gram. The Re­build the Dream move­ment launched by ac­tivist Van Jones, today is pub­lish­ing its "Con­tract For The Amer­i­can Dream," a 10-point agenda based on the input of more than 130,000 peo­ple who helped rate ideas on­line and at­tended hun­dreds of house par­ties around the coun­try. The Con­tract will serve as the man­i­festo for a se­ries of events, start­ing with "Jobs Not Cuts" protests being or­ga­nized Wednes­day in con­gres­sional dis­tricts around the coun­try and will con­tinue through the month of Au­gust.
These ef­forts coun­ter­ing the right-wing shock doc­trine will be able to re­group at the"Take Back the Amer­i­can Dream" con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber, where ac­tivists and sup­port­ers will be able to plot the next steps to­ward end­ing the tea-party hostage-tak­ing of the gov­ern­ment and our democ­racy. (You can reg­is­ter now at early-bird rates.)
Here is the mag­ni­tude of what has al­ready been ac­com­plished: In six leg­isla­tive dis­tricts—most of which are Re­pub­li­can strong­holds—a grass­roots up­ris­ing faced down a for­mi­da­ble and ruth­less right-wing po­lit­i­cal ma­chine fu­eled by a seem­ingly end­less tor­rent of cor­po­rate cash.
That this re­call ef­fort could even hap­pen is a minor mir­a­cle; as Chris Bow­ers pointed out Mon­day on Daily Kos, there have only been 13 suc­cess­ful re­call elec­tions in the en­tire coun­try in the past 100 years, and only two of those have been in Wis­con­sin. Bow­ers adds that "Re­pub­li­cans out­per­form their statewide num­bers by 10-15 per­cent in the key dis­tricts we are tar­get­ing" and "the days when we could out­spend Re­pub­li­cans are gone, pos­si­bly for­ever."
Nonethe­less, Daily Kos polls in four of the six dis­tricts re­leased Mon­day showed the De­mo­c­ra­tic chal­lenger ahead in one of the dis­tricts and sta­tis­ti­cal dead heats in two oth­ers. "The bot­tom line: This is too close to call," Bow­ers wrote.
One rea­son: Con­ser­v­a­tive groups have pulled out all the stops to save the seats of the Re­pub­li­can in­cum­bents. Wis­con­sin State AFL-CIO Pres­i­dent Phil Neuen­feldt told the AFL-CIO Blog that "right-wing money is flood­ing into the state at an un­prece­dented rate.  Just re­cently, Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­ity and the Koch Broth­ers pur­chased $150,000 worth of air­time.  Yes­ter­day, the Pres­i­den­tial Coali­tion, an af­fil­i­ate of the con­ser­v­a­tive group Cit­i­zens United, an­nounced a $270,000 ad buy."
Some of that money has pur­chased the dirt­i­est of dirty tricks, in­clud­ing Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­ity ab­sen­tee bal­lots mailed  to De­moc­rats in at least two re­call dis­tricts that had a mail-in dead­line date that was two days after the ac­tual dead­line date. One of the leg­is­la­tors who is being re­called, State Sen. Al­berta Dar­ling, is fac­ing a for­mal com­plaint from the Wis­con­sin De­mo­c­ra­tic Party al­leg­ing cam­paign vi­o­la­tions con­nected to mil­lion-dol­lar cam­paign warch­est fu­eled by a coali­tion of right-wing or­ga­ni­za­tions.
On the other side is a stun­ning dis­play of peo­ple power. Mother Jones' Andy Kroll re­ports, "This past week­end, 8,234 peo­ple vol­un­teered for the state De­mo­c­ra­tic Party to sup­port the De­mo­c­ra­tic chal­lengers in Tues­day's re­calls. Vol­un­teers made con­tact with nearly 785,000 vot­ers last week­end alone, ac­cord­ing to the Dems' es­ti­mates. All told, the party says total voter con­tacts have sur­passed 2 mil­lion."
What is sig­nif­i­cant is the dom­i­nant mes­sage that is being pro­moted by the re­call chal­lengers and by the or­ga­ni­za­tions mo­bi­liz­ing be­hind them. Gov. Scott Walker and the Re­pub­li­can leg­is­la­tors who backed his agenda have slashed the safety net and im­por­tant ser­vices for the mid­dle class and the work­ing class in order to pay for tax breaks for cor­po­ra­tions and the wealthy. An ad sup­port­ing the re­call of State Sen. Sheila Hars­dorf is typ­i­cal. It says that "Hars­dorf voted with Scott Walker to cut $800 mil­lion from our kids' schools; she sup­ported his plan to give hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in tax breaks to cor­po­ra­tions and the su­per-rich."
If that mes­sage pro­pels two or more of the chal­lengers to vic­tory, that will have enor­mous im­pli­ca­tions for the na­tion­wide push-back against con­ser­v­a­tive "shock doc­trine" poli­cies. Up until now, con­gres­sional con­ser­v­a­tives have cho­sen to ig­norethe polls that reg­is­ter ma­jor­ity op­po­si­tion to their poli­cies of shield­ing mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires from any con­tri­bu­tion to deficit re­duc­tion while push­ing for cuts in So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medicare, Med­ic­aid and dozens of sup­port pro­grams for mid­dle-class and eco­nom­i­cally strug­gling peo­ple. They are bet­ting that such events as the Stan­dard & Poor's down­grade of the U.S. credit rat­ing can be used to per­suade vot­ers that it is the work­ing fam­i­lies and re­tirees who must "eat their peas" while CEOs get an extra help­ing of filet mignon. And just in case their mes­sag­ing alone doesn't work, they are work­ing  to block ac­cess to the basic tool of democ­racy, the bal­lot, to pre­serve their power.
Today, rank-and-file Wis­con­sin vot­ers are ris­ing up to say, no, democ­racy be­longs to all of the peo­ple, not to the Koch broth­ers or to Dick Armey or the cor­po­rate PACs or the anti-gay, anti-women so­cial con­ser­v­a­tives. The ex­tent of their vic­tory is not yet clear. But after a dis­mal win­ter of po­lit­i­cal set­backs and ca­pit­u­la­tions, today may well be recorded as a turn­ing point in the ef­fort by pro­gres­sives to "take back the Amer­i­can dream."

1 comment:

  1. This is the "Liberal trap"!. ""They've put the oli­garchs and their po­lit­i­cal lack­eys on no­tice, let­ting them know that it won't be as easy to tram­ple on the pub­lic as they thought,"..Does this mean that it will just be harder, take longer, cost more??, but in the end they'll get trampled anyway??.How about "Take no prisoner's, these traitors will lose the election, lose credibility and be shown for the unAmerican corporate subversives they are!!