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Gibson writes: "The most painful thing I ever watched was when Tom Barrett got his ass handed to him by a proto-fascist governor who ran on punishing working families to reward his wealthy campaign donors with the salaries of public servants."

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett delivers his concession speech at his election night party in Milwaukee. Barrett faced Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election, 06/05/12. (photo: AP)
Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett delivers his concession speech at his election night party in Milwaukee. Barrett faced Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election, 06/05/12. (photo: AP)

Get Left or Be Left

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

09 June 12

Reader Supported News | Perspective


An open letter to Democratic Party leaders.

ear Democratic Party leaders,

Your lackluster 2012 recall performance in Wisconsin reminded me of another lackluster performance I saw in Mississippi in 2010.

At a local bar's karaoke night in downtown Jackson, a dopey-looking middle-aged man in a jet-black toupee sang "Gimme All Your Lovin" by ZZ Top, drunkenly and off-key, to a group of young women at a nearby table. He was really getting into it until he stumbled off of the stage, knocked over their drinks, and spilled beer all over himself. The music stopped, and the women started laughing at him instead of with him. He sat by himself in the back of the room for the rest of the night. That was the second most painful thing I've ever watched.

The most painful thing I ever watched was when Tom Barrett got his ass handed to him by a proto-fascist governor who ran on punishing working families to reward his wealthy campaign donors with the salaries of public servants. This happened despite massive populist protests in Madison, an army of volunteers getting 1,000,000 recall signatures in the dead of winter and tirelessly knocking on over 1,000,000 doors leading up to the election, and his opponent's brand being associated with corruption. Despite what should have been a slam-dunk at a time when the far right is losing the battle of public opinion, Barrett's recall attempt fell flat on its face.

The Dems lost to Walker but took back the Senate, so I don't blame the unions or the volunteers. I don't even fully blame Wisconsin's shameless corporate-owned media, Super PACs, Citizens United, or Scott Walker's campaign war chest. Rather, Democratic Party leaders simply ignored and dismissed the powerful economic populist narrative that united the world around the Wisconsin State Capitol and Wall Street Occupations of 2011, and proved how out of touch they are with the 99 percent.

President Obama and DNC leadership treated the Wisconsin recall like a statewide race that didn't have national significance and put it on the backburner while the president campaigned for himself in neighboring states. But the RNC and their fascist wing, the Tea Party, outsmarted you in Wisconsin, so their multi-state class war will continue unabated, and perhaps even exacerbated. You'll continue to get pounded until you nominate and fundraise for candidates that are as far to the left as Scott Walker is to the right. I'm talking the kind of candidates who make stump speeches in the same vein of anti-robber-baron populism as FDR in 1934, or Martin Luther King in 1968.

Even British media smelled the stink of your failure in Wisconsin, calling out Clinton and Barrett for their milquetoast, plain-vanilla pitch to crucial voters at a crucial campaign stop. When your opponents actively seek to crush working families and the institutions that protect them, you don't energize those workers by telling them you'll work hand-in-hand with their oppressors. Wisconsin voters didn't force a recall to seek consensus with Republicans. They forced a recall to make a statement against a corrupt Republican regime that cares more about punishing its political enemies than serving the public interest.

Even though Blue Dog Democrat Tom Barrett lost handily to Scott Walker in 2010, establishment leaders still tapped him as the nominee for the recall election. Answer this: Why would the same guy, saying the same things, somehow have a different result against the same opponent he already lost to not even two years beforehand? Would it have killed you to nominate a woman, a person of color, someone younger than sixty, or at the very least, someone who doesn't wear the same color tie as his opponent? Why did you have to pick a boring white male career politician to challenge another boring white male career politician in a historic recall attempt?

Scott Walker made a mockery of the Badger State by ruling as the manager of the Midwest subsidiary for Koch Industries instead of serving as the Governor of Wisconsin. He proudly replaced union workers with prison labor, and oversaw the loss of over 30,000 jobs while middle class wages decreased and corporate profits have never been higher. Democrats chose instead to play defense to Walker's lies.

Even though corporate tax collections in Wisconsin are lower than the national average, Democratic Party leaders never forced the conversation about all the millions of dollars wasted on corporate tax breaks and subsidies that only exacerbated the jobs crisis in Wisconsin, growing wealth inequality, or the troublesome Orwellian police state Wisconsin Republicans gleefully brought about by arresting silent protesters in the Assembly gallery. In a state as polarized as Wisconsin, that type of rhetoric is exactly what was needed to motivate and energize the base. President Obama polled better than Barrett in Wisconsin: if he made good on his promise to put on his walking shoes and march like he said he would when collective bargaining was under attack, or if he used his presidential bully pulpit to oppose Walker's class war, if he did anything more than tweet for Barrett on election day, it may have made the difference.

People like those who run the DNC are the same reason my generation hates Democrats just as much as we hate Republicans, and why we're so turned off by the electoral process. You want votes from young, energetic 21st-century citizens? Stop running old and tired 20th-century candidates and 20th-century messaging. Leave the leadership up to the young leaders who haven't forgotten how to organize for meaningful change.

In the meantime, labor leaders should defy the outdated Taft-Hartley law and call for a nationwide general strike in the wake of the Democrats' recall flop. If the 1 percent is determined to wage class war, let's fight back. It's time to lead the Democrats where we want to go, instead of waiting for them to lead us.


Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You can contact Carl at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+66 # genierae 2012-06-09 16:49
Young leaders might know "how to organize for meaningful change", but they don't have the experience that is necessary in order to govern well. We will need great wisdom to get us out of this mess, and the young are not well supplied with that commodity. The problem wasn't Tom Barrett's age, it was his lukewarm attitude. Instead of marginalizing elders, we need to enlist their help. Until we begin to respect and value their contributions, we will continue to lose ground.

Why does no one talk about voting machine fraud? The exit polls in Wisconsin said that the race between Walker and Barrett was a dead heat. Exit polls are very reliable, and so why isn't anyone investigating?
+14 # Jerry 2012-06-10 00:00
That is bull. You’re as full of ageism as the author is. Us wise old farts are responsible for letting the middle class get slaughtered. What young person has been in charge while the country fell apart? None. As our old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. The younger generation has more intelligence, more education, and more empathy than ours. While we have more experience, the shape of the country shows that source of that experience got bad results. I suggest the young should pick carefully from the grains of wisdom we spout. They should learn how we screwed things up so that they don't repeat the mistakes. They should review the history of the country, and world, to see what worked and what didn’t. They will have to live with the results. Don’t stand in their way.
+12 # genierae 2012-06-10 14:13
You're such a charmer, Jerry. I'm speaking of enlightened elders, not those who have been conditioned all their lives to believe the crap that "those in authority" dish out. Yes there are many seniors out there who are awake and have much wisdom to share, evidently you are not aware of those people. Unfortunately, they are a minority, and in this country, unless it's the 1%, minorities don't have enough power to create national change. In every era of this country there were elders who worked hard for the good of all Americans, and they do not deserve to be lumped in with your wrinkled-up, couch-potato sleep-walkers. And when I speak of the benefit of experience, I am talking about those elders who "learned" from their experience, not just let it run off their backs. This world belongs to all of us, the young have no special patent on it, and no one should get out of the way simply because they are older. We all have a part to play in this life, and it doesn't end when we reach 65. It's your attitude that makes you old, Jerry, don't believe the ageism, and you won't be affected by it.
+4 # Capn Canard 2012-06-11 07:53
genierae, I believe that Jerry has some good points, the Left needed yet another good swift kick in the arse. But more importantly, I believe that what just happened in Wisconsin is a manifestation of how a well funded campaign can usurp public opinion, especially if the opposing candidate does does not have a well funded campaign. This is a money problem. And Barret was not an exciting candidate. Wisconsin needed an exciting leader but apparently there are none in Wisconsin, and money trumps average candidates.
+3 # genierae 2012-06-11 12:41
CC: I think that the Democrats are not only outspent, but they are not able to organize as well as Republicans. This is because Democrats are basically free-thinkers, who each have their own ideas about governance. Republicans, on the other hand, are conditioned into a lock-step mentality, sort of like basic training in the military. They are NOT free-thinkers, they have NO original thoughts, and so it's much easier for them to organize. They're like programmed robots, push their buttons and they always react the same robotic way. It's also true that Democrats are not good at pushing back against the Republican hate machine. Democrats are not haters, as a group, and so they are not equipped to handle the virulent malice of the right-wingers. They are much more suited to working together with others to create solutions to problems, and these tea-party Republicans are violently opposed to any form of compromise. The Democrats only hope is to devote the next five months to broadcasting the truth about what they stand for, contrasting it with the criminal negligence of the Republicans. If they will do this consistently, I think they will win.
-9 # Jerry 2012-06-10 00:05
Ihit the thumbs down on genierae and the count went up 4. Did Reader Supported News get Diebold counting machines?


While you are reading a comment, many other people are also reading it, and voting. When you click a thumbs up or down, it refreshes the count with the total of all the votes during that period of time - not just yours.
+10 # SpyderJan 2012-06-10 05:19
Check out this article from the 7th

It is not going unquestioned.
+3 # genierae 2012-06-10 14:16
Thank you, SpyderJan.
+6 # pbbrodie 2012-06-10 06:54
First, I'm old. Although I believe Gibson went a bit overboard with his age comments, I see where he is coming from and understand his feelings. I believe he is right in that the Democrats do at least appear to ignore the younger generation and fail to tap into the vigor and energy they possess. Look no farther than the Occupy movement.

"Instead of marginalizing elders, we need to enlist their help. Until we begin to respect and value their contributions, we will continue to lose ground."

This was satire, right? Otherwise, what on earth can it be? Your "elders" are in complete control, lock, stock, and barrel. We already respect and value the contributions of elders. I believe that Gibson is saying the same thing as you with the young replacing elders. It is the young who are marginalized and whose help we need to enlist. "Until we begin to respect and value their contributions (the young), we will continue to lose ground." Amen!
+11 # genierae 2012-06-10 14:25
pbbrodie: Please read my above comment to Jerry the charmer. The elders in control of our government are not the ones I'm talking about. They have been corrupted by the system, though there are many, such as Bernie Sanders, who are truly wise. When I spoke of the wisdom of elders, I was speaking of those who have managed to wake up and they are not in charge. As for the young, I value their passion and energy, and living in a college town, I have been encouraging them to get involved for years. I am so proud of the OWS movement, and I think that it will eventually morph into a powerful resistance movement. But the wisdom of elders will be essential to its success. Once people realize the danger we are in, many will take to the streets, and if Romney gets elected, this will happen soon.
+5 # Billy Bob 2012-06-10 07:03
THANK YOU FOR THAT COMMENT! This article was BEGGING for that response.
+3 # genierae 2012-06-10 14:35
You're welcome!
-18 # phantomww 2012-06-10 09:07
How do you know that exit polls are reliable? Maybe people are lying to the pollsters. Or maybe we should change our elections to just be polls and get rid of the vote.
+18 # Billy Bob 2012-06-10 10:04
Exit polls CONSISTENTLY undermine election results favoring republicans. It happens over and over and over and over. It doesn't seem to be a coincidence. When the same thing happens in other countries the United States demands the U.N. send in monitors to figure out if the results were fixed. That seems to apply to the rest of the world, but not here at home. You must agree that exit polls which are considered accurate within 2% shouldn't vary from the election results by 12%!
+29 # davidr 2012-06-09 17:55
Give money its due. Getting outspent 20-something to 1 actually matters. If Feingold had run, Walker would have had to spend 40 to 1 maybe, but would the result have been different? Would Feingold then be forced to bear recrimination? In California, with a huge mismatch in their campaign coffers, cancer was elected over medical research! Can we fault medical research for being a weak candidate?
+2 # William LeGro 2012-06-09 23:49
In California, you can indeed fault medical research for being a weak candidate. The proponents chose the wrong beneficiary for that tax hike, and even people who voted for it didn't like where the money would go. Cancer research is awash in cash, and California would have birthed a brand-new bureaucracy and highly paid commission to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars a year. While the schools go broke, teachers and firefighters lose their jobs, the universities go downhill? No, uh-uh. That's why that proposition lost.

I felt this way from the first I read about it - it stunk on the face of it, and I never saw or heard or read one anti-Prop 29 ad. As it is, even with that lame plan for cancer research, it almost won despite being outspent 5 to 1. If the money had been earmarked for education, Prop 29 would have passed no matter how much the cigarette lobby spent, because Californians don't smoke and they don't give a rat's a$$ how much a pack of cigs costs. they care about where the money will go.

That was the fatal mistake the Prop 29 folks made. I'm sure they'll try again, I hope they do, and I hope they get their priorities straight next time.
+6 # davidr 2012-06-10 15:44
The tobacco companies outspent Prop 29 proponents 5 to 1 in order to protect their biggest domestic market — 5.6 MM CA smokers. Had a $1/pack tax increase passed, they stood to lose more profit EACH YEAR than they spent to win this single election.

My argument is that the tobacco companies (or the Kochs in WI) are willing and able to outspend their opponent at ANY ratio until their polling assures them they'll win. 10 to 1, 20 to 1. It doesn't matter. A victory is cheap at ANY price. What's
it worth to the Chamber of Commerce to bust unions? It's a number truly beyond calculation.

Making Barrett the goat in WI is just willfully ignoring the real, and uglier and more intractable story. We're at a point where, if the stakes are worthwhile for big money, then big money can't lose.
+8 # RLF 2012-06-10 06:40
Stupid people will get exactly what they are asking for until things get so crappy that they start seeing through the money...or else they will get crappier still!
+26 # 8myveggies 2012-06-09 21:29
I loved and completely agreed with all but one paragraph of this article. Ageism is no more acceptable than racism or sexism. Your personal prejudice doesn't belong in your article, on RSN or anywhere else.
+2 # conniejo 2012-06-11 09:32
I agree with you that ageism is not acceptable, but Carl had a point. Fifty-six percent of older people voted for Walker who is the Wisconsin face of the republicans who want to cut Medicare and Social Security. However, it should be noted that only 18% of eligible young voters actually voted in the recall election. And 38% of those from union households voted for Walker. We need to stop putting people into pigeonholes and then blaming entire groups. We need the wisdom of elders, the experience of the 1960s veterans of both the war and the protests, the young who have fresh ideas and perspectives, the working poor who don't have the luxury of time to evaluate the nuances of public policy and, therefore, are vulnerable to disingenuous sound bites, the well-educated who have done the analysis, the poor who are the only ones who can describe life from the bottom of the heap -- everyone who cares about community and believes that we all can and should be given the opportunity to live a decent life. The republicans use "divide and conquer" very successfully; let's not help them do so by singling out specific groups of people for criticism. The republicans stir up fear of the "other" among these various constituencies. Our only weapons against that are understanding those fears and combating them with truth.
+44 # mdhome 2012-06-09 22:52
Trouble is, this is war and while the republicans have AK47s, the democrats came in with pop-guns.
+5 # Rick Levy 2012-06-10 00:07
So what else is new?
+10 # pbbrodie 2012-06-10 06:59
Why is it with the left that it's always, "now play nice," while the right is punching their noses bloody? I realize we don't want to stoop to their level of lies and unethical behavior but a little bit of fighting fire with fire wouldn't hurt anything now and then.
Every time President Obama has reached out his hand across the aisle, he has drawn back a nub. How many times does he need to see the same result before he realizes it isn't going to change!
+8 # Mrcead 2012-06-10 08:47
That's because Democrats had no idea of how rabid the Republicans are over something considered so ordinary as an election.

Who would want to match that level of absurdity? To spend over $30 million on a seat that can't be held forever just to prove a point?

Every decade the Republicans manage to find an "enemy" to beat on. Survival of the fittest is the law of mindless animals, not people. There is no limit to "insanity," so you throw it in a padded room and medicate it until a treatment can be developed to better manage it.

What went on in that state was an atrocity yet people still voted for the harbinger of their destruction. I blame the voters for believing one man's hype over another's rather than take a trip down memory lane.
0 # DPM 2012-06-09 23:17
It's time!!!
+6 # cordleycoit 2012-06-09 23:26
I am glad someone else is pissed at the DNC for being a craven bunch of weasels in their White Boy Suits. This is what we get to look forward to Curly, Larry and Moe do the Democratic Party. I bet they didn't share the backhander.
+6 # Regina 2012-06-09 23:32
When is the Democratic Party going to wake up to the obvious fact that the Republican Governors Association is organized in a nationwide conspiracy against our real national interests? Why isn't there a competing effort from Democratic governors? They won't get Koch money, and will have to work that much harder, but they have a far better message and need to get it out before the Teapots whistle again.
+2 # genierae 2012-06-11 12:49
Living in Ohio, with Kasich, I agree completely Regina. He is devastating our state, privatizing everything he can. He sold off our state liquor stores, at a bargain basement price. Our rest areas are now going to be commercially owned, ads will bombard us when we stop for a "rest". I wonder if they will charge for drinking water? They are also thinking about putting ads on the sides of our school-buses. It's a sickening thing to watch, the loss of Ted Strickland is hitting us hard.
+22 # William LeGro 2012-06-09 23:39
I'm 65, and I was saying this stuff before you were born. I'm with you 100 percent, but drop the bigotry of age - it's as bad and as self-defeating as any other bigotry. As things stand now, your organization is minimal, your youthful compadres have their eyes glued to smartphones and ears to earbuds tuning out the real world, and your most effective leaders are nowhere in sight. The major weakness of youth is to think they're smarter and more capable than they are, and that they don't need anybody else - hey, is that a spot-on description of adolescence or what? After all, I was one once, I know about the strengths, it took time to learn about the weaknesses. Youth will eventually lead the way, I have great hopes for them, I admire their creativity and ferocity. But you'll need people of every ethnicity, gender and age to get the work done. Above all, you'll need wisdom, and what I see here is telling and much-needed criticism, but precious little wisdom. That takes time. We're all in this together. Shut people out based on your bigotry and You. Will. Fail. It's that simple.
+4 # soularddave 2012-06-09 23:39
The way to get the experience of Barrett with the determination of a lesser know candidate would have been to run an articulate orator for the Governorship and then employ Barrett as the Chief of Staff, or something like that.

Yes, age does have something to do with running for an important post where experience counts for something, but it needn't be an impediment to bringing in youthful vigor. A governor doesn't really RUN the state - the government just continues to operate. Changes must be made, but those changes are decided in conference with the heads of departments. Governors inject *policy* and those policies can change. That's what elections are for; to redirect policy.
+1 # asbpab1966 2012-06-10 00:14
Walker won by convincing enough voters that a recall is like an impeachment and that an officeholder should only be removed if found guilty of crimes.
+2 # ProgressiveJones 2012-06-10 18:36
Yes. I spell it out here:

Also, Walker controlled the message throughout most of the state, while we permitted the corporate media to control ours. While we were marching around hoping that somebody would pick up the story besides Fox, Walker was building his web site, running his "our reforms are working" ads. The corporate media, even the ones on "our side" contributed to the misinformation by choosing what what to cover (collective bargaining) and what NOT to cover (everything else). 
Comcast (which owns NBC), Media Corp (which owns Fox), and Time Warner are all confirmed ALEC members. I'm convinced that the reason NBC called the race early was to freak Barrett out and force an early concession. The corporate media were just as complicit in our failure as were the corporate Dems and, sorry, the corporate unions. 
0 # Rain17 2012-06-10 00:24
The problem is that there were no other candidates besides Kathleen Faulk who chose to run. And the unions spent the primary attacking Barrett in favor of Faulk, who had no chance of winning. Faulk narrowly lost a race for Attorney General in 2006, one of the best Democratic years in decades. If Faulk couuldn't win in 2006, when the Democrats were winning everywhere, how on Earth could she have won in 2012?
-34 # brucbaker 2012-06-10 02:47
If anyone thinks Walker is Fascist ... maybe you need to live in a real Fascist state and stop with all this over-the-top slander? You have NO CLUE what Fascist really is.

And this "out-spent 20-to-1" Come on! GET A CLUE! If the message is good ... MONEY DOESN"T MATTER! Fact is .. Democrats and UNIONS sent in the BIG GUNS which usually work WHEN TIMES ARE GOOD AND PEOPLE DON"T CARE! That is the bottom line for this Scott Walker election.

You want a clue? WAIT FOR THE ECONOMY TO GET BETTER and PROSPERITY RETURNS. At that time people won't care if the Unions rob and steal, or if the Democrats pull the same old crap of power grabs figuring out new ways to steal the money from American citizens... because we will HAVE MONEY and if they steal a little ... fine ... we will have enough or our own left over.

That is the bottom line every single time the Democrats stupid propaganda doesn't work and the MESSAGE of a Republican does.

I am not saying all Republicans are good, but then not all Democrats are bad. This SITUATION in WISCONSIN ... was the message ... NOT THE MAN. That's your CLUE FOR TODAY!
+19 # Billy Bob 2012-06-10 10:05
If money doesn't matter, why are repuglicans spending so much as though it does? Either money DOES matter, or conservatives are extremely stupid. Which is it?
+19 # reiverpacific 2012-06-10 10:06
Well, I have lived in Franco's Spain, Stroessner's Paraguay and Suharto's Indonesia, ALL Fascist states and ALL propped up by the US death apparatus of their times -and Walker would have fit right in there handily, probably as a fink for their secret police military and wealthy dynastic upper classes, all interlinked and all brutally corrupt.
Sound familiar yet (and not just in Wisconsin either but much of the "Fragmented states") -B.T.W., my daughter lives in Madison, was and still is, one of those tireless activists and she is just as disgusted with Barrett "doing an Al Gore" as she so aptly put it- and she also calls Walker a Fascist -and worse.
So it's YOU who don't know what you are talkin' about; and please quit yellin'!
+4 # humanmancalvin 2012-06-10 03:41
Holyone wrote "People are really tired of the non-patisan charade that Obama seems to think is noble, but has really made he and other Dems look patheticly {sic} naive."

One of the many traits I admire about our president is his willingness to attempt to govern to all political persuasions. I would like to believe that at this point after being rebuffed & kicked in the pants each & every time he has tried to work across the aisle, his drive to be president to all will not so much vanish but decrease. The "open mic" moment while speaking to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was telling: ""This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."
The flexibility to overrule, cite strong, plain facts from the Bully Pulpit; all in an effort to dig this country out of the Republican hole left by 8 years of Bush giveaways. With Democrat majorities in both houses, America may have a chance at restoration for all its citizens, even the screaming Know Nothing Party AKA the Tea Bagger contingent.
+10 # Vegan_Girl 2012-06-10 04:53
I think that the Democratic Party is also corrupted by special interest. We need a People's Party and we need it now.
+6 # ecoforestree 2012-06-10 09:56
Straight and to the point, Vegan Girl! I'm glad to see someone is awake to the fact that the Democratic Party is just the left hand of the tyranny that destroys people and Nature on our beautiful planet. Until we form a truly grassroots political party that is serious about rights for all species, we will continue to watch the death cult that is in complete control of out planet. Reforming the Democrats and Republicans is like trying to reform a mass murderer. Giving authority to the killers just encourages them. Yes, we need a People's Party now!
+7 # Rain17 2012-06-10 10:43
And a third party will never exist in the US. The Green Party is a joke. The US system is winner-take-all . A third party will only be a spoiler. If the US System were like Israel, where even fringe parties can win a seat or two in the Knessett if they get maybe 3% of the vote, you would have a point. But unless the US adopts a proportional system, rather than the current winner-take-all that exists today, a third party is likely to go nowhere.
+6 # LegendBert 2012-06-10 05:32
Carl Gibson got it right. Obama and the DNC had the same cake walk attitude in 2010 and we can see where that got us. It is such a pity when the Dems are so right and the Reps are so wrong.
-2 # RichP 2012-06-10 05:47
"Democratic Party leaders simply ignored and dismissed the powerful economic populist narrative that united the world around the Wisconsin State Capitol and Wall Street Occupations of 2011, and proved how out of touch they are with the 99 percent." The trouble with this and similar analyses is that they assume the Dems are a legitimate party. In fact, the Dems are the other face of the same coin, and their allegiance, in fact their sole reason for being, is that they present a (false) alternative to the party of the bosses. The bosses own them as well. It is time to stop looking to the Dems as the opposition -- it is third party time, with truly different solutions, ones that are outside the limited cures offered by the current lineup.
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-10 06:27
Barrett's age may have been a factor IF it was connected to the attitude he brought to the recall, which, for the most part, seemed to be to act in a "Wisconsin" Nice way. (In Minnesota, it's "Minnesota" Nice.) Basically, this is the attempt to avoid conflicts so as to appear reasonable."

When dealing with someone like Walker, perhaps it's necessary to remember what Gandhi said: "I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson: to conserve my anger, and, as heat conserved is turned into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world." I believe that is what Elizabeth Warren is doing.

Walker always found ways to "appear" reasonable, while doing his spin. A friend of mine once said, "Sincerity sells. And once you've learned to fake sincerity, you've got it made." Walker fakes sincerity very well.

I didn't hear the last debate, but supposedly, Barrett finally took off the powder puffs, and went at Walker; too little, too late.

On the Charlie Rose show, Thomas Friendman said: "We don't need better leaders; we need better citizens."

However, I do think it helps to know that someone with courage is in the corner of the middle class. As has been written, success is never final, and failure is rarely fatal - it is courage that counts. I hope Barrett and the other potential progressive candidates in Wisconsin come to understand that, and soon.
+5 # Rain17 2012-06-10 10:49
I am no real fan of Friedman, but he is right about needing "better citizens." The problem is that most people really don't care about political issues. They don't have time nor the desire to follow current events and their impact on their lives. They are more concerned about their favorite TV show, last week's American Idol episode, the Jersey Shore, their favorite sports team, their family, and so forth.

The GOP knows this and creates better campaign ads and messages that reach these people. The Democrats still suck at messaging. And the Democrats try to "be reasonable" way too much.

At the risk of sounding sexist, as I thought about the recall, it seems like voters are like some girls I know. When I was younger there were these girls who always fell for a$$holes, men who cheated on them and treated them like dirt. For some reason they just loved men like that.

And perhaps there is a key point here. I think voters mistake "kindness" and "niceness" for being weak and wimpy. They reward politicians like Walker, even if they come off as a$$holes, because they equate it with strength. That is part of the reason why the Governor of NJ, Chris Christie, is so popular with some people. To them boorish behavior equates with strong leadership.
+3 # ProgressiveJones 2012-06-10 17:13
Walker also took a year and a half to build his brand. He bought television ads that calmly touted the "successes" of his "reforms." he assiduously avoided public events and public speaking unless th circumstances were tightly controlled. Like every textbook sociopath, he manilpulated his cronies into doing all the nasty talk and nasty work for him, and he came across as calm and sensible. By the time a least-common-de nominator opponent had been chosen, Walker had a strong brand, and the only platform OUR side was able to come up with was "Barrett isn't Walker." Perhaps if we had had more time to build a good case FOR Barrett (not just against Walker), had has the courage to vote for Vinehout, had talked about what Walker has been doing besides busting fundraising and public unions, educated people about what warrants recalls (, not relied on the corporate media to tell our story fully, and... Walker had a strong brand, Recall Walker had a weaker one Barrett had the weakest one, and we didnt have the time, money, or political savvy to counter Walker's year of advertising with our five weeks.
+6 # Billy Bob 2012-06-10 07:02
The article was pretty good. The comments about it were better than the article itself. Ageism is exactly what we DON'T need right now. Unless the goal is to alienate more voters...?
+2 # RMDC 2012-06-10 07:06
Good article. the national democratic party betrayed the people of Wisconsin. this is Obama's doing. It is time to recognize Obama for what he is -- a neo-con who works for the same dick Cheney cabal that is only interested in war and bankers and oil companies. Obama did not have time to stand up for the people of Wisconsin but he did have time to start two wars -- one in Libya and another in Syria. This does not include all of the covert wars he's started in Africa

If Obama is not the leader of a progressive democratic party, it is because he was never a progressive. He gestured toward that in his campaign, but in reality he is a neo-con and a neo-liberal -- same as GW Bush but smarter and better looking.
+1 # Rain17 2012-06-10 11:01
I don't necessarily fault the DNC for not getting more aggressively involved for the following reasons:

1) There was no consensus candidate at the beginning.
2) The unions gravitated toward Kathlee Faulk, who lost a narrow race for Attorney General in 2006. There was no way she could beat Walker. If Faulk couldn't win in 2006, when the Democrats winning almost everywhere, how on earth could she have beaten Scott Walker in 2012?
3) The unions spent the primary attacking Barrett and supporting Faulk. That cost precious time and resources that could have been better directed to going after Walker.
4) The polling never looked good. That final 4-5% that Barrett needed just didn't seem to want to budge.

Perhaps, if they had found a better candidate, unified behind said candidate and not wasted a primary, the DNC might have been more involved.
-5 # dick 2012-06-10 07:12
I thought Dem "leaders" backed a different candidate at first, but that candidate was so weak that Barrett came on to win the support of recall VOTERS in the primary ELECTION. Face it: Walker offered CHANGE, REFORM, no matter how offensive to progressives. ObamaDems offer lofty-but-empty rhetoric, pathetically weak Stimulus, Big Pharma wet dream ObamaCare,
budget cuts, & bi-partisan compromise with right wing extremists. Anti-Scott was NOT ENOUGH. ANTI-Mitt will NOT be enough. Dems have to have real reform of oligarch-rules.
+19 # bingers 2012-06-10 07:29
The very first thiong that should be done if it's not already too late is to replace Debbie Wasserman-Schul tz with the guy who knows how to win. If Obama didn't have a hard on for Howard Dean, 2010 would have had a much different outcome and 2012 would be in the bag no matter how much the Kochsuckers of the world spend.

He may be a relatively old white man, but he's a Roosevelt type old fashioned fighting Democrat with more know how in his little finger than the rest of the Democratic leaders combined.

If you ever attended one of his speeches in '04 you know he, not Kerry should have been the nominee. He got trashed by the media because he promised to rein in corporate consolidation. And he would have been the best president since FDR.
+4 # Majikman 2012-06-10 10:08
I'd love to give you a gazillion thumbs up.
+6 # DennisMerritt 2012-06-10 08:35
I worked hard on Barrett campaign but he was a terribly ineffectual candidate. He did not attack Walker's main refrain that he had the courage to stand up to the "special interests" and that is what saved the municipalities of the state $1 billion. Barrett did not hammer Walker by pointing out that "special interest" were the teachers and AFSME union members who have run an educational system in the state that is consistently in the top 3 for ACT scores and created a state government known for clean, effective and efficient conduct. He did not rail on Walker for making these workers the boogymen for our economic woes. He did not go point by point through the sad litany of new laws that are boiler-plate ALEC laws. Neither did he defend our 16 brave Senators who left the state when the Republicans tried to ram through in a short period huge bills that attacked collective bargaining and a host of other issues that were counter to Wisconsin's long and rich Progressive tradition. Part of the problem for Barrett is that he used some of the "benefits" from the attack on the unions to negotiate with unions in Milwaukee where he is mayor, and Walker reminded the voters of that.

I compare our present political situation to Hunger Games as I describe on my blog
+7 # fredboy 2012-06-10 08:55
To many of us, the Blue Dogs are but pigs in a blanket--Republ icans in sheep's clothing. They gave the GOP the House in 2010, and they'll probably give Romney the White House in 2012. So why did Wisconsin run a Blue Dog against the fascist right? He was a candidate that drew, at best, mediocre support from our hearts.
+5 # ComradeYuri 2012-06-10 10:22
Yes! there is a pattern here that is just too obvious to be chalked up to political tactics. Obama is not just running scared or maneuvering for position against the Republicans -- HE IS A REPUBLICAN. What I mean by this is that Obama is a beltway neoliberal. He is part of a Washington consensus that is calling for a full-speed-ahea d, and damn the torpedoes policy when it comes to the dominance of finance capital and the globalization of production. He is a "steward" president. He, Obama, is operating a care-taker presidency. The problem is, for working people, that Obama is taking care of the banks and the fortune fifty. He is NOT a man of the people. I have to take my cap off to the oligarchs and their Madison Avenue minions for choosing Obama (placing the big money behind him). This was a stroke of genius. His presidency has demobilized much of the liberal wing of his own party. The Obama partisans in the middle of the Democratic Party actually believe they have a liberal (even a “progressive”) in the White House. The mainstream Democrats will support milquetoast candidates like Obama the same way they supported milquetoasts like Barret in Wisconsin. Until the mainstream of the Democratic Party wakes up these guys (the Walker and Obama types) will continue to (literally) laugh all the way to the bank at our expense.
+7 # Sir Real 2012-06-10 10:30
Like pbbrodie, at 57 I too am old compared to Gibson and many here. That doesn't mean I support the same old tired, tried and failed policies of the democratic leadeship in lockstep. I completely agree with Gibson's call for a nationwide general strike, it is pretty nearly our only remaining option if we are to regain any power and momentum and turn this nation around and get the policies we stand for enacted. I have been calling for a general strike for years as I have seen my wages and purchasing power diminish for at least the past thirty years. My dad once told me that as labor, the only thing you have to bargain with is your labor. You must use it to force the changes you want and withhold it when necessary if you ever hope to gain anything. Management will never relinquish anything without a demand and the threat of withholding your labor. That is how you get what you need and deserve.
+8 # DennisMerritt 2012-06-10 11:27
I forgot to mention on my earlier entry that almost a third of the labor vote, 31% to be exact, went to Walker. This supports my argument that Barrett blew an opportunity to emphasize the importance and necessity of people to organize to combat the corporate takeover of democracy.
+4 # geraldom 2012-06-10 13:23
I'm sorry, but I blame the Dems & Tom Barrett himself for losing against Scott Walker. The Dem Party & Tom Barrett should've known from the start that he wasn't strong enough to win against Walker. What do you expect when you put a teddy bear up against a barracuda & attempt to run a civil campaign against such an opponent?

As I had stated in a previous posting under a different article, we need people like Paul Wellstone, honest but strong & ruthless in how they fight, to run against these coldhearted SOBs who aren't afraid to lie thru their teeth & use (illegal) dirty tricks as they did in Wisconsin to win elections that they would normally lose.

Unfortunately, GWB, back in 2002, saw Paul Wellstone for what he was, a serious threat to getting his admin agenda passed & a possible & strong pres threat in the 2004 pres election & had him assassinated in a tragic plane crash just 2 weeks before the Nov, 2002, midterm elections took place.

Tom Barrett had absolutely no chance of winning the recall election given the Repub rules of the game. Then, to add insult to injury, Tom Barrett & the DNC then just simply walked away from it all without even attempting an investigation into the many illegalities that had occurred that election day.

If this is the MO that the Dems will be using to fight all of their campaigns, God help us all! If the election had been held a lot sooner, maybe Barrett might won. Time was the Dems enemy here.
+6 # ProgressiveJones 2012-06-10 15:46
I'm grateful for this discussion thread. One thing it's making clear is that our failure in unseating Walker can't be "blamed" on one discrete factor, anymore than you can nail down the "one" reason for suicide or divorce. I want to print up a bunch of buttons that say "Wisconsin died for our sins." I think one thing we can learn is that, if we were in the Aesop fable of the Wind and the Sun, Walker would play the role of the Sun, and we the Wind. Our media, courts, legislature, are too entrenched in dirty money to help. So, what do we do? We need an unconventional way of reaching everyday people who still trust what they read in the paper and see on the evening news. Even Jon Stewart thought we were idiots. How do we circumvent the conventional media to help people figure things AND to help the people who need help?
This reminds me of the abolition movement. While some people took to the pulpit, others took to the courts, others ran an Underground Railroad, and the community wrote songs that helped people keep up their courage and find their way to freedom. The roots grow down, and the tree grows up. What should we do? (Don't ask me. I'm old and I live in Wisconsin, which means I'm tired.)
+5 # ProgressiveJones 2012-06-10 16:31
This country is like a big codependent family in denial of an addiction to corporate money that is taking down the whole family. We're all enablers. The Baby Boomers built it into what it is, yes, and the BBs are the most entrenched, but part of that is because we've been trying to survive with it for so much longer. We also have more baggage. Deciding to sleep on the street as a protracted act of protest is a different decision for a 25-year-old than it is for a 50-year-old whose decisions affect, not only himself, but his spouse, his children, and his ability to keep them fed, housed, clothed, insured, educated, etc., not to mention the elderly parents he's looking after. But it's not about young vs. old. It's about progress. It's about vision. We Baby Boomers need the strength, energy, and creative passion of the young to help us pull our wagons out of the mud and keep on trying. The young need our long view, perspective, and learning about where the potholes are. The enemy here is convention, money, greed, and corporate power -- what we, the complicit elderly, used to call "the establishment." I'm with you regarding the corporate political parties. But it's the fact that they're corporate that makes them cynical and sociopathic, not the age of their leaders or members. I marched in the snow like you. And my heart is just as broken.
+2 # dovelane1 2012-06-11 05:16
Check out these books by Anne Wilson-Schef - "When Society Becomes An Addict" and "The Addictive Organization." She is basically saying the same thing that ProgressiveJone s just did. Ironically, she wrote these books back in the 80's I believe.

The main symptom of addiction is denial. All addictions are based on fear. The main and first commandment should be "Don't let them scare you." If we allow our fear to overrule our judgment, in any and all situations, we will be lost.
+6 # Mrcead 2012-06-10 17:56
I swear, the gloves better come off now! No more playing nice! You see the Republicans are more than willing to brig a gun to book club night so unfortunately we will have to stoop to their level - and take a thorough shower afterward. Let's give them the trouncing they so desperately deserve and have coming.
+1 # ProgressiveJones 2012-06-10 18:57
Andy Kroll's analysis of the Highjacking of this movement by the corporate electoral process is excellent. Read it here:
+3 # davidhp 2012-06-11 08:54
I blame this loss on the lack of critical thinking skills in people today. Too many believe what they hear without evaluating the messenger, the goals of the messenger, opposing views, and the goals of those with opposing views. If we are to stop the sprinting fascism in this country we must educate our children in critical thinking skills, so that those with the money cannot buy elections with lies and half truths.
0 # teineitalia 2012-06-12 13:51
David, I agree with you. Think about this. For the last 30 years or so, the Republican party has consistently defunded or under-funded education initiatives. Perhaps what we have here is the result of that strategy- a truly dumbed down electorate. I don't think this is a conspiracy theory- look at the unfunded mandate of No Child Left Behind. Look at the way the current GOP wants to trash truly helpful programs such as Head Start. Critical thinking skills are taught in liberal institutions; do you think they are taught in Oral Roberts University? (I'm not going to bash all church schools here, because there are a few, run originally by the Jesuits, where critical and independent thinking is valued.)
+1 # moby doug 2012-06-12 08:59
Here's a puzzler: the number of people signing the recall petition and the number of people voting AGAINST Walker (for Barrett) was just about the same---just over a million. Wouldn't you have thought at least a FEW HUNDRED THOUSAND more people in Wisconsin would vote for the recall than signed the petition for the recall?!!! Will someone who knows Wisconsin please explain this for me?
0 # teineitalia 2012-06-12 13:38
When the Obama administration and the DNC kicked Howard Dean to the curb, I was worried.Really worried.Dean is a true progressive, and would have been a great president. He is a very kind and decent man, and was brilliant as head of the fact, it was his 50-state strategy which helped win Obama the White House.
But he wasn't exactly thanked for his trouble. He was pretty much handed his hat and shown the door (Probably by Rahm Emmanuel) Can't say much about Kaine, he seemed like a place-holder. Debbie Wasserman Shultz is not shy..she's a fighter, and a progressive one at that. Which is why the way this played out is so mystifying. Gibson is correct to call out out the leadership of the DNC. They were not paying attention, to Wisconsin's sorrow and the country's detriment.
+1 # teineitalia 2012-06-12 13:41
Of course, as many here have noted, mounting a true progressive candidate would have helped. Democrats are generally kind people, they are not haters and prefer cooperation to confrontation. Still, there are times when one must fight with fire. Bullies only understand strength in numbers, and the Republican party of this day and age has attracted more than its share of bullies.
0 # Buddha 2012-06-18 16:15
Wisconsin showed that the Dems are trying to get on their knees in front of our Corporations/Pl utarchs just like the GOP to try to get some of the share of that campaign donation treasure. The problem of course is that we just can't compete in terms of corpo-corruptio n like the GOP, although Centrist Dems like Clinton and Obama certainly will try.

I don't like the idea of a general strike though. You think a general strike is going to hurt some multi-billionai re like the Kochs more than it will hurt some poor pay-check to pay-check laborer? Get real.

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