Working the Refs; or, Why Losing in WI Will Help in November

Here’s the big lesson from Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin last night: hatred alone isn’t enough to win elections on the Democratic side. Let’s face it: progressives, liberals, and blue dogs couldn’t get our shit together in 2004 to kick George W. Bush out of office, and that was in an officially sanctioned, regularly scheduled opportunity at overthrow. And don’t give me any of that “the election was stolen by Diabold” bullshit; we have to take some responsibility for the massive voter turnout being stymied in Ohio, for example, by a poor Election Day infrastructure, by long lines at polling places, lack of ballots, etc.

And yes, I know that, in many cases, Republicans controlled the local election board–and that’s my point. We have just as much responsibility to get engaged at the local level before a big election year–something the GOP has understood for a long time. This isn’t to say, of course, that Dems haven’t been making those same efforts–we have–but we have to keep trying.

As kos pointed out this morning, there’s an interesting cognitive/electoral split coming out of WI: although Walker won, exit polls conducted yesterday indicated that, if the Presidential election had been held yesterday, Obama would have beaten Mittens 51/44 in WI. So many of the Badgers who came out to vote yesterday pulled the lever for Walker–and would also have done so for Obama.

Kos goes on to argue that:

But the Right’s messaging tapped into voter discontent with the whole concept of the recall election itself. That won’t fly in November. Nor will Republicans win back the 18 percent of Obama supporters who pulled the trigger for Walker.

If anything, I’d argue that the Dems’ loss yesterday makes it more likely that WI will go for Obama in November and provides a necessary [if painful] lesson as to what we’ll need to do to ensure that the President is re-elected. The DNC, under the torpid leadership of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, can’t sit by and twiddle its thumbs.

We can’t assume that people power [as Howard Dean might say] and kick-ass GOTV alone can overcome the serious financial advantage that the RNC and the SuperPacs may bring to bear in certain states.

And, most important, we can’t spend all of our bloody time on MSNBC whining about how unfair it is that the Republicans are attempting to repress voter turnout among the poor and some ethnic minorities. About how Eric Cantor’s a douchnozzle. About how the RNC are clueless asshats who think women = caterpillars. They do, they are, and it sucks, but guess what? You can’t work the refs in an election, because, at some level, we’re ALL Ed Hochuli. We’re all the refs. And unless we accept that and focus on our own actions, on selling a positive message of what Obama’s second term would mean for the country, rather than simply bitching about what assholes the Republicans are [oh, and they are], we’re gonna lose. And that ain’t acceptable, in my book.

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