Competing Visions

 

I like how Mitt Romney handled these hecklers in Wisconsin.

After several interruptions from a protester in the crowd at a Wisconsin campaign event, Mitt Romney said to the heckler: “You see, young man, this group is respectful of other people’s right to be heard. And you ought to find yourself a different place to be disruptive because here we believe in listening to people with dignity and respect.”

The heckler was also hit with several rounds of “USA! USA! USA!” by the crowd at the event.

Romney used the heckler as a chance to tell President Obama to take his campaign out of the “gutter.”

“Look, there is no question that if you follow the campaign of Barack Obama he is going to do everything in his power to make this the lowest, meanest, negative campaign in history. We’re not going to let that happen. This is going to be a campaign about ideas, about the future of America,” Romney said.

“This is a campaign about greatness, about America’s future for your children, for the world. Mr. President, take your campaign out of the gutter. Let’s talk about real issues that America faces,” Romney also said.

The gutter is all Obama has left. The last thing he seems to want to do is talk about real issues.

 

“Too many folks still don’t have a sense that tomorrow will be better than today. And so, the question in this election is which way do we go?” President Obama asked at a fundraiser in Chicago on Sunday.

“Do we go forward towards a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared?” Obama asked. “Or do we go backward to the same policies that got us in the mess in the first place?”

“I believe we have to go forward,” Obama said. “I believe we have to keep working to create an America where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, no matter who you love, you can make it here if you try. That’s what’s at stake in November. That’s what is why I am running for a second term as president of the United States of America.”

Forward right off the cliff. The mess we are in couldn’t possible be due to the President’s own policies to “share the prosperity”. It has to be his predecessors. If you try the share the prosperity, you only end up sharing poverty.

 

More on the Recall

I don’t want to dwell too much on the recall election last Tuesday, but reading through all the commentary, it occurs to me that the biggest mistake the Democrats made was having the recall at all. I imagine that even many voters who disapproved of Scott Walker nevertheless believe that the recall was expensive and unnecessary. They might have been wiser to wait until Walker was running for reelection in 2014 and made his fight with the  public-sector unions a major issue. They might also have made it an issue this November, which might have helped Obama’s reelection effort, and the Democrats in Wisconsin generally, or perhaps not. The public was clearly on Walker’s side in the recall, and there is no reason to believe that would have been any different this November. Still, at least they would not have wasted all of that money and effort.

Walter Russel Mead, as usual, has a good analysis of the implications of this election.

The American left as we have come to know it suffered a devastating blow in Wisconsin last night. The organized heart of the left gave everything it had to the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: heart, shoe leather, wallet and soul. The left picked this fight, on the issue and in the place of its choice; it chose to recall Walker because it believed it could win a showcase victory. That judgement was fatally flawed; it is part of a larger failure to grasp the nature of American politics and the times in which we live.

The left gave this fight everything it had. It called all the troops it could find; it raised all the money it could; it summoned the passion of its grassroots supporters, all the moral weight and momentum remaining to the American labor movement and every ounce of its strength and its will.

And it failed.

The tribes of the left danced and rallied in the streets of Madison. They knocked on doors. They staffed phone banks. They passed fliers. They organized on social media. They picketed. They sang. They brought in the celebrities and the stars; they marched seven times around the city blowing the trumpets and beating the drums. They hurled invective; they booed; they cheered.

And they failed.

For labor, this was a key test of strength and clout. Scott Walker attacked the American labor movement where it lives: the public sector unions are the only bright spot in the dismal world of modern American unions. They have the growth, they have the money, they have — or they had — the hope.

In terms of his ideas about the Blue social model and its increasing inability to provide answers to the difficulties of our postindustrial information age economy and society, the public-sector unions must surely be the bluest of the blue.

In terms of the blue social model, they are the party of the bitter clingers: the power of public sector unions among Democrats is a power that inhibits Democrats from putting forward innovative, future-facing ideas (about schools, health care, and so on) and keeps them focused firmly on the defense of the past.

Mead provides a link to a delightful piece by Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post.

Indeed, we are witnessing the first major battle between astronomical numbers of people and astronomical amounts of money.

As I write this, Walker leads in the polls, and if progressive turnout is merely ordinary, he will likely win. On the other hand, if we see the same groundswell today as on the days that led to this one, Walker can be defeated. Yet, big as this election is, it is only the first test of the progressive response to an electoral landscape overrun with money from corporations and wealthy individuals.

By attacking labor unions, flooding Wisconsin with outside cash and trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him, Walker has taken aim at more than a single campaign cycle or a series of policies; his real targets are the pillars of American progressivism itself. With the Romney campaign gearing up, and super PACs taking to the national airwaves, we face an unprecedented, well-funded assault on our basic values.

But progressives aren’t backing down. They’re just getting started.

Just like the South was on the path to victory after the Battle of Gettysburg, or the Germans after Stalingrad, or the Japanese after Midway. Or maybe not. They all lost the war after those setbacks. We haven’t won the war yet, but this may be the turning point.

I haven’t read anything from the Left explaining their rout yet, but I suspect that most of the commentary will resemble vanden Heuvel’s. They were beaten by money from sinister corporations and out of state wealthy individuals. Most likely the Koch brothers and Karl Rove were behind the whole thing. It couldn’t possibly be because people actually agreed with the governor that in tough times, it is not asking too much to expect even people in the public sector to tighten their belts a little.

This, of course, is a variation of the arguments in Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas. Those bitter clingers in flyover country should vote for the Democrats who have their best interests in mind, but instead are bamboozled into voting for Republicans, against their own interests. For people who claim to be on the side of the little people, Liberals are remarkably condescending towards anyone who doesn’t see the world their way.

Victory in Wisconsin

Very good news from Wisconsin last night. Scott walker not only won the recall vote, he won by a large enough margin so that the unions and Democrats couldn’t steal the election. Walker won 53% of the vote against his opponent Tom Barrett‘s 46%. This, despite all of the money and all of the attention they gave this race.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) survived a furious campaign seeking his recall on Tuesday, emerging as the victor in a bitter fight over state budgets and collective bargaining rights.

Walker prevailed over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, in the closely-watched campaign that stemmed from a fight in early 2011, when Walker drove a controversial bill stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights through Wisconsin’s legislature. Walker won with 53 percent of the vote while Barrett received 46 percent, a slightly larger margin than when the two ran against one another in 2010.

Walker told a raucous crowd at his election night party that his survival was an affirmation of political “courage.”

“Tonight, we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions,” he said.

Walker’s win served as a symbolic victory for a generation of reform-minded conservatives; the crowd at Walker’s Waukesha election night party let out a large cheer when a local NBC affiliate showed the projection of Walker’s victory.

Conversely, the outcome in Wisconsin was a galling disappointments to Democrats and labor groups that had vowed to seek the Republican governor’s ouster over the collective bargaining law. Tens of millions of dollars flowed into the state both in support and opposition of Walker, reflecting the high stakes in the race.

Well, maybe it won’t be a day long remembered, but this recall election does have considerable significance outside the state of Wisconsin. Walker’s victory will embolden other governors top take on the public sector unions and this will be good for the Republican Party, by cutting off a major source of funding and  support for the Democrat. It will also be good for the country as a whole as governors will be able to enact badly needed fiscal reforms for their state.

I don’t know what this portends for the election in November and it would be imprudent to make any predictions at this point, but I don’t imagine that they are too happy about this in the White House. This is a major defeat for the Liberals’ agenda and they know it.

 

Liberals are such drama queens, aren’t they? No, democracy isn’t dead. This was a fair election and your side lost. I didn’t cry when Obama won.

I am sure that the unions and the Democrats will not be sore losers about this and certainly not resort to threats of violence like those awful racist teabaggers, right?

Well no. Actually they have been flooding twitter with death threats against Governor Walker, which is all of a piece with the lawless and occasionally violent manner in which they have been acting all along. If these thugs had been successful with their intimidation tactics and mobs, I wouldn’t say democracy is dead, but it might be on life support. But the good guys won this one, so I’ll be celebrating.

 

By the way, I can’t wait to read what the Democrat’s fund-raising emails say about this. We wasted millions of dollars in an ill-advised campaign to unseat Scott Walker. Please give more.

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