The only thing scarier to Democrats than a robust conservative grassroots is, I don’t know, mandatory school prayer. Or maybe Scott Walker serving as governor indefinitely.
Democrats’ Get Out the Vote efforts are a peacock-sized feather in their caps. They’re notorious for organizing and rallying people behind their cause — so much so that their last presidential candidate started his career in politics by doing just that. In the movement to recall Governor Walker in 2012, there were rumors of unionistas not just crashing in to help register voters, but also to actually establish residence in the state and vote. It was unprecedented and, thankfully, pointless. Meanwhile, as the Governor held on to the office, his detractors literally cried on the steps of the capital that democracy had died, as if Big Labor had no role in funding and organizing the anti-Walker junta.
The left has a knack for unity. Sometimes the kooks are allowed to roam around for a while so the Party bigwigs can get the real work done without significant distraction. Ultimately the party narrative prevails. Case in point was Brett Hulsey’s absurd candidacy, one that Mary Burke never really bothered to acknowledge. It was fun while it lasted, but even his bizarre and inept supporters will likely gather around Ms. Burke in November, and without having to choke down bile while doing so.
There are degrees of liberals, some of which we’ve chronicled here: The Sinicki Democrats (the morons), the Democrat High-Brow (the high-minded thinkers whose politics can’t survive in reality), the Ranting Loons and Assorted Boneheads (the kooks, like Brett Hulsey), each alongside the party faithful, the varying strains of progressives, and the cornucopia of single-issue bleeding-hearts.
Sometimes they disagree on the minutiae, and most would probably hate being lumped into the Democrat category. They cry about unions and the imagined travesties committed by big business against the workin’ man — but it’s all platitudinal nonsense designed by the Party Elite to help win votes. Reducing voters to demographic characteristics has been the left’s successful strategy since at least the ’60s. Placating a bloc of voters with the promise of benefits financed by the other guys takes less energy than telling the stories of freedom and prosperity, a yarn the right has to get more efficient at spinning. Despite their political divisions, they all get behind not being Republicans, and they mostly get behind the Democrat Party.
In the case of their nominee for governor, she is nothing but a product of the establishment, invented by Mike Tate and DPW powers-that-be to produce someone whose background and supposed credentials have the potential to remove her from political squabbling and position herself as a fixer to clean up the mess. That’s a very business-y notion: the consultant who rides in to clean house and fix what’s broken because she hasn’t had a stake in it before. But that’s a farce — she did serve in Jim Doyle’s cabinet, and her professional history is in direct conflict in the policies she now pretends to support, as we’ve extensively reported. Her candidacy is the Buckley Rule in effect, only for their party: Elect the most viable liberal candidate.
The GOP suffers from a different affliction. Nationally, the grassroots/establishment conflict is a mess. Politicians like Paul Ryan who were once darlings of the tea party movement were eviscerated for playing the political game and not supporting policies that are manifestly pointless when the president has veto power. But locally, the governor is a very functional figurehead with whom candidates take great pains to associate themselves. Gov. Walker’s policies are the template any other state could use. He is at once the de facto party leader in Wisconsin and also the poster child of the kind of politics the anti-establishment right-wing worships.
For Wisconsin, whose politically schizophrenic identity elevates both Democrats and Republicans to major offices simultaneously, that’s important.
The story of a robust conservative grassroots ruins the image of white guy fat cats that Democrats are desperate to portray, but it’s one that’s been unfolding over the last months and years. In the race for Secretary of State, Julian Bradley’s aggressive campaign has inspired thousands of voters who eagerly support his reform-minded agenda and pragmatic brand of politics. The “no government” raison d’être trumpeted by libertarian-leaning conservatives could have been an issue in that race, supported by his opponent Gary Bies. But that’s unrealistic and, ultimately, stupid. The Bradley brand was able to present a common-sense solution for a complicated problem that appeased most of the right, as yesterday’s vote tallies have proven.
But his victory was also the result of a tireless ground game whose epicenter is the La Crosse GOP, where a network of volunteers and a very specific communications strategy has made that group one of the most powerful local Republican organizations in the state — and not just for Mr. Bradley.
Even this site gets a surprising amount of traction and notice in the blabbosphere.
There is a very alive conservative grassroots movement and that terrifies Democrats. Or perhaps they refuse to believe it — my recent favorite example being some boob in the comments who’s convinced we take money from some group to say mean things about Mary Burke. Sorry, no.
Conservatism is an idea accessible to everyone. Its principles take some understanding and explaining, especially for those who’ve only listened to their professors and Jon Stewart their whole lives. And it’s blossoming in Wisconsin thanks to high-profile people who are clearly enunciating a vision for the state guided by conservative philosophy. That will greatly threaten the liberal mission of buying votes with political promises and feelgoodery.
Surely the cards are stacked against us, but we don’t have to make it easy for the Burke campaign, Mike Tate and the DPW, and the screeching hoards of incredulous goons who always seem to win by just not being Republicans and without offering real vision. In Wisconsin, conservatives are going to win the ground game, and reach people who are paying attention — the ones who know better than to believe the bilious lies touted by the left.
It’s time. Game on.