But conviction isn't enough. Wisconsin Republicans have convictions and those convictions have made them about as popular as a stubbed toe. Yet, they're inarguably Tea Party convictions. If the Tea Party is a popular movement, then why isn't it -- um -- popular?
There's a lesson here for Democrats: be about something. No one other than a Broderist pundit or a TV talking head is impressed by anyone's centrism.
E.J. Dionne, Washington Post:
In Wisconsin, by contrast [to the Washington Democratic establishment], 14 Democrats in the state Senate defined the political argument on their own terms -- and they are winning it.
By leaving Madison rather than providing a quorum to pass Gov. Scott Walker's assault on collective bargaining for public employees, the Wisconsin 14 took a big risk. Yet to the surprise of establishment politicians, voters have sided with the itinerant senators and the unions against a Republican governor who has been successfully portrayed as an inflexible ideologue. And in using questionable tactics to force the antiunion provision through the Senate on Wednesday, Republicans may win a procedural round but lose further ground in public opinion.
Dionne argues that if Washington Democrats want to win back the public, they're going to have to be a lot more like Wisconsin Democrats. "For the first time in a long time, blue-collar Republicans -- once known as Reagan Democrats -- have been encouraged to remember what they think is wrong with conservative ideology," he explains. "Working-class voters, including many Republicans, want no part of Walker's war."
In other words, stand for the middle class, stop pretending that "trickle-down" economics has any basis in reality, and stop putting low prices on the shelf (i.e., global free trade) above good wages for workers. Sure WalMart has low prices -- which is good, because we've shipped all our jobs to China and now WalMart is all anyone can afford. To return to a theme I visit often on this blog, tell Blue Dog Democrats to take hike. We don't need Blue Dogs, we need blue collars. A constant impulse to compromise only gets you played by Republicans. I mean, look how well that's been working so far.
Take a cue from the Wisconsin 14. When they finally come back home, don't be surprised if the voters of Wisconsin throw them a freakin' parade. You've got a backbone for a reason. Maybe it's time you used it.
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