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.

I’ll Make A Man Out Of You. With My Fists.

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So I had C-Span on this AM so that I could watch Mitt Romney’s commencement address at Liberty University.

Make of my sanity from that what you will.

But I was early, or Liberty was late, so, in the interim, I heard a series of calls from C-Span’s morning call-in program.

The conversation centered on the Washington Post’s article this week on Mittens’ dumbassery at a high school student, which, according to the article, centered on at least one occasion on physically assaulting a younger classmate whose haircut Mittens didn’t like.

So he gave the kid a new one. You know, while his buddies were holding the kid down, ignoring his crying and screams for help.

Totally normal behavior. For a sociopath.

Anyway, Steve from Haymarket, VA came in on the Republican line.

And Steve? Couldn’t see what the big fucking deal was about. Because, he argued, he’d been bullied at school, during his time at a military academy. No, not bullied, he said: hazed.

And that hazing had, he claimed, been just awesome for him. Being bullied makes you butch, makes you tougher, he argued. Turns you into the man you’re supposed to be. That’s what it did for him. Getting the snot beat out of him convinced him to take up weight lifting, exercise, blah blah blah macho, and goddamn it: Steve from Haymarket was grateful for it. And he didn’t understand why the kid that Mittens and his buddies “hazed” wouldn’t have “manned up” under such treatment.

Now what struck me wasn’t the bullshit notions of masculininty, or of what it means to be a “man.” How you become a man–through physical violence and intimidation, apparently.

It was that, for Steve, Romney’s participation in this kind of behavior–which Mittens hasn’t denied–is a good thing, is a selling point for Steve on why Mitt is the Right Man for the Job.

To be a man, it seems, means you have to be willing to beat masculine conformity into the bodies of others who are failing to live up to your expectations.

So what does that mean for a guy who wants to be the President, the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military in the world? What about from a diplomatic perspective? Are “real men” only those willing to wage war, to push the physical assault of one kid out onto a multinational stage?

Certainly, I don’t care for Mittens, and I–like most people, I imagine–was bullied in high school. Not physically, for me, but bullied nonetheless. And over what my would-be tormentors perceived as my being a “lesbian.” Now, mind you, at my wee little high school on the edges of the East Coast Megalopolis, there were no constructive discussions of gender and sexuality, more out of ignorance, I think, than any sort of malice. I doubt the morons who tried to give me a hard time [in French class, no less! I think that’s my favorite part, in retrospect] even understood what a lesbian was, other than, perhaps, a girl who didn’t look “girly” enough to them.

So all that said: I’m not with Team Mitt on this one. [Or any one.] But I’m more freaked out by the notion that some people would see this kind of asshattery as a sign of Mittens’ leadership potential, of his potential awesomeness as the leader of the free world. And I wonder how many of said people would also claim to be “Christian,” to be followers of a religion that, ostensibly, is all about treating your fellow humans with dignity and respect.

Not sure what to make of that, exactly. But it doesn’t feel like something good.