The Ed: Sad State of the Democratic Party

This week’s Martinicast editorial:

Wisconsin’s Democratic Party is a mess.

A series of crushing defeats – losing to Scott Walker three times in the past four years, losing the Assembly, losing the Senate – have Democrats in this state doing a lot of soul-searching.


Try as they may, they just can’t figure it out. Dem leaders Jennifer Shilling and Peter Barca offered limp denunciations of protesters camping out at Scott Walker’s home in Wauwatosa, where the governor’s 70-something mom and dad are living.

Barca said: “Generally speaking I think it’s better off not to visit people’s homes.” Oh, is that what they’re doing? Visiting?

Shilling said: “It’s their right. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with that.” No, it’s not their right to invade someone’s property. This from the woman who sat idly by as her allies dumped roofing nails in ousted Senator Dan Kapanke’s driveway and county snowplows buried his mailbox. Shilling had nothing to say then. Now, she’s struggling against her instincts to trash the place when Democrats don’t get their way.

Speaking of struggling against instincts, the Democrats are searching for a new leader to replace outgoing firebrand Mike Tate, the architect of Democratic failures. The slate of candidates is more of the same, the same old pitchfork-and-torches types that make the Democrats feel comfortable.

Meanwhile, the one shining victory of the Dems in the past few years may be coming unraveled. Marquette Baylor, the staffer for Sen. Tammy Baldwin, has decided not to take the hush money offered to her after the Senator canned her in the wake of the Tomah VA scandal. Instead, she’s suing. This could destroy Baldwin.

And pundits on the left whose noses are certainly raw from scraping the ceiling have lined up in an all-too predictable diatribe bemoaning a “GOP War on Knowledge.” One columnist wrote that Walker is putting scientists on the chopping block. Another lefty writer actually claimed Walker is waging a “dangerous war on knowledge.” Because science doesn’t happen if it’s not funded by a bloated government budget.

It’s all a transparent attempt to portray the Governor as a brutal barbarian. Watch as it unfolds into a concerted effort to paint presidential candidate Walker as dumb.

Dumb he is not. In fact, the most crushing defeat for the Democratic Party wasn’t necessarily at the polls in recent years. Where they saw a beautiful display of democracy, everyone else saw a mob of thugs trashing the capitol, or protesting in front of a private home occupied by an elderly couple.

Walker played all of this – and the Democrats – like a ukulele. In a way the Democrats themselves created Scott Walker, the presidential candidate with double digit poll numbers in early primary states.

It’s a time for soul searching in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. But they’re all struggling against their instincts in the process. And as long as they convince themselves Republicans are some combination of evil and moronic, they will continue to lose.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.