DDMaybe things in Wisconsin last night are not as bad as they appear, but maybe they are worse. On the positive side Democrats did pick up a seat in the Senate thereby gaining control so they may be able to help curb the worst of Walker’s excesses. It is also encouraging to learn that in spite of the local victory President Obama still enjoys a substantial lead in the Presidential race. But it seems to me the positives stop right there.
Democrats, some of them at least, seem to want to play down the importance of the enormous advantage of money enjoyed by the Republicans. They cite the fact that in spite of all the money spent on Walker’s behalf it did not seem to change the polls as Walker’s numbers stayed essentially unchanged. This is, I think, just dreaming. Obviously the money made a difference. First, Walker spent so much money on ads even in advance of the election that his opponent was rendered virtually unknown. This was especially true because Barrett did not even become the known candidate until relatively late in the process. Second, Democrats thought they could get more people to the voting booths, but with so much money the Republicans could easily match that effort. Third, with his enormous financial advantage Walker was able to produce ads to enable his divide and conquer strategy, generating resentment on even the part of private union members about their perceived disadvantage with public sector union members (some 35% of union members voted for Walker). Fourth, it is entirely possible that although the money spent did not boost Walker in the polls it may well have protected him from falling further in them. Who knows where he might have been without so many ads in his favor? Similarly, although he did not receive a higher percentage of votes than he did in his first election, he may have received many less without his massive advertising effort.
There were other factors as well that may or may not have been directly related to the money. Apparently many people voted against the recall simply because they were against the idea of recalls in general. Also, by virtually smothering the contest with ads, the fact that he may actually soon be indicted for illegalities went more or less unreported and unknown. Also, Walker’s previous dishonesty about attacking the unions, as well as his questionable means about getting his way, seem to have been forgotten. He somehow, through the ads I guess, managed to emerge as a more or less reasonable guy who just had a difference of opinion about things, in fact he emerged somehow as a kind of hero rather than the schmuck he seems to be.
In spite of what happened in Wisconsin many Democrats want to believe that money is not going to be that important even in the national elections, believing, again, that they can counter with a large grassroots turnout, the idea that we have the votes while they have the money. This seems to assume the money does not affect turnout. But more importantly it seems to also assume that the massive ad campaigns and all the propaganda will have no affect on those voters who will be going to the voting booths. There is little else Democrats can do except try to turn out their voters as there is no way they will ever be able to match the finances being spent by the few billionaires and their corporations who seek to rule the world, backed, of course, by the partisan Supreme Court that has made this possible. It is technically possible to pass a constitutional amendment against Citizens United but that will be so difficult and time consuming it will probably be too late, the Fascists will have already won. I suspect it might be easier, and even quicker, to impeach some of the members of the Supreme Court, but that will not be possible insofar as they already control Congress.
I see little hope for the future unless something can be done fairly soon. It is possible there could be a massive backlash against what is happening. Those who are predicting the end of unions may find out the unions will actually gain members and become more and more powerful. It is also possible that ordinary citizens will be so enraged (if they ever actually can cut through the endless lies and propaganda to find out what is going on) they will take to the streets and demand genuine parity. At the moment, realistically, the only hope is that President Obama will be re-elected. I suspect he is the only thing standing between hope and disaster. The possibility of a Romney presidency I find absolutely unthinkable, a true kiss of death. No individual person, or small group of such persons, should be allowed to control so much wealth they can literally buy an election. This is little more than medievalism revisited.
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
Woody Allen (1935 - )