John Laesch: What Happened in Wisconsin and Lessons for Barack Obama
Submitted by Illinoisnoki1 on Wed, 06/13/2012 - 14:38
By John Laesch, Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice, carpenter and former Congressional Candidate in the old Illinois 14th CD
Most Democrats will spin the cash discrepancy between Walker and Barrett as the overwhelming reason that Barrett lost. I have a different perspective. I remain a true believer in the idea that we can out-organize and defeat the money with a good candidate, clear message and real hope.
It is true that people are leaders, or, they are not leaders. The president’s decision to stay out of Wisconsin reinforced the fact that he is a consensus builder, not a leader.
It also seems clear that trying to shove an anti-union candidate like Barrett down the throats of working people just doesn’t work. Wisconsin party leaders should have been swayed by labors push to back Kathleen Falk. LINK - http://www.kathleenfalk.com/media/press/2012-03-endorsements
Scott Walker won when Barrett won the primary election. While Barrett had greater statewide name recognition, as a woman, and solid pro-labor candidate, Falk presented a stronger contrast to Walker.
Paul Thurman with Red Alert Politics wrote this about the Barrett-Labor rift after Barrett won. “Labor leaders who supported Falk have also been furious with Barrett implying the candidate supported Walker’s stance on collective bargaining. Andy Stern, the former longtime leader of the national Service Employees International Union said he expects “a short let-down” if Barrett comes out on top of Tuesday’s primary.
AFSCME has been critical of Barrett for demanding too many concessions from the union in his role as mayor. Barrett canceled his appearance at a Democrats’ post-primary “Unity Event” over fear that pictures with him and other union leaders will be used against him in his race for Governor against Scott Walker.”
Within days, the rift was “healed” and Walker was the target. Understanding the importance of electing “the lesser of two evils” in Wisconsin, I chose to stay home and let Barrett lose. I am done working for the democratic lesser of two evils who keep pushing corporate policies that benefit wealthy, elites in our society. I should mention that I marched in Madison and I gathered signatures to recall Walker and the Walker 8. Tom Barrett – no.
We didn’t have to learn this lesson in Wisconsin. Democratic Party leaders could have easily drawn on this lesson from the 2010 blood bath that resulted in their party losing the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, I don’t see national party leaders picking up on the lessons of Wisconsin either. Maybe after 2012?
Instead, they are learning the wrong lesson which is, “raise more money.” This wrong-headed lesson means that we will start to see more millionaire candidates and more democratic candidates sucking up to the corporate privatizers like Crowns and Pritzkers.
The lesser of two evils argument comes up often in conversations about the 2012 presidential race, that presents voters with a Hobbesian choice between the really bad and the really, really bad. It is a false choice and I have chosen to sit out the 2012 presidential election until we have better choices.
It would not take an act of congress for the President of the United States to offer me a better choice this November. Obama can fire Tim Geithner and replace him with Robert Reich. Obama can fire DeMarco and replace him with someone who supports mortgage principle write-downs. Obama can fire Arne Duncan, the chief architect of for-profit schools. President Obama has the power to stand down our military presence in Afghanistan and shut down for-profit military contractors.
I recognize that Mitt Romney is really, really bad, but President Obama has been really bad for working people and democracy. It was his inability to lead and his full embrace of corporate policies like the bank bailout that caused people to lose faith. These policies showed that he was indeed, not the “hope and change” candidate he purported to be in his 2008 white house bid.
If not made clear in 2010, the 2012 Wisconsin recall election should make it even clearer that voters are not motivated by mediocrity and that fear-based, “lesser of two evil” arguments do not motivate those who see through the empty rhetoric.
Obama’s inability to lead in Wisconsin emboldened his opponent, Mitt Romney. Unless President Obama makes dramatic choices to change course and change his cabinet, we will all be stuck with President Romney. The really sad part about all of this is that we the people are going to pay the biggest price. The task of my generation remains a separation of corporation and state.
America is in a state of crisis Mr. President and we cannot afford to stay on the same course. My voice is the voice of the people demanding change. You are the one who has to change. Asking me to change my view is, in effect, blaming the victim. It is unacceptable.