But it gets easier when Walker and his "independent" backers dominate the airwaves.
This is where the money issue becomes significant.
Joel Rogers, a sociologist and political theorist, says that we often miss the reality of how money works in politics. The point at which to look at the role of money in politics is not the final tabulation that says one candidate or party had more money than the other. The point at which to compare is at the early- and mid-stages of a campaign. Does one side have such an overwhelming advantage that it can effectively silence the other? Does one candidate have the ability to so dominate the discourse that their messages come to define the debate?
That's what Scott Walker and his supporters have tried to do. They did not succeed in the early stages of the recall campaign, at least in part because of the high level of attention to the campaign and the intensity of the opposition to Walker mustered by energetic grassroots groups such as United Wisconsin.
Now, however, as this fast-paced campaign reaches its midpoint, Walker's financial dominance allows him to spin political fantasies that are precisely at odds with reality -- as he's doing with the spun job-loss numbers.
This is where the frustration with national Democrats becomes a factor. While unions have been delivering resources for grassroots mobilization, there has not been an equivalent level of engagement by national Democratic Party operatives. Callers to Ed Schultz's national radio show, a broadcast center of the discussion about the state-based struggles by unions and defenders of public services and public education, were furious with the DNC.
They aren't just griping, however.
Brookfield, Wisconsin, activist Mary Magnuson went to MoveOn.org's member-driven petition site -- www.SignOn.org -- with a note that read:
"As a Wisconsin progressive working day and night for the recall of Scott Walker, I'm shocked: The Democratic National Committee still isn't giving financial support to the recall fight in Wisconsin. After more than a year of grassroots efforts, Wisconsin citizens have accomplished more than anyone thought possible. We now have a Democratic challenger to Scott Walker who is neck and neck in the polls, even though Tom Barrett is being outspent by Walker's millions from out-of-state donations."
"There is no more time for the Democratic National Committee to wait -- if Walker wins, it would be a huge setback to Democrats in races across the country this year. We need the DNC's support immediately!"
The petition language is simple, but blunt: "Democratic National Committee and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, invest now in the crucial fight to remove Scott Walker from office in Wisconsin--the people have worked hard and it's time to help."
By mid-day Wednesday, more than 100,000 people had signed on.
These are grassroots activists, most of them Democrats, who recognize that Magnuson is right.
If the Wisconsin recall is defeated, not because Walker or his austerity agenda was appealing but because he and the RNC and the Koch brothers were more committed, then the Democratic party will take a hard hit. Not just in Wisconsin but nationally.
It won't just be that the Democratic National Committee will be identified as a dysfunctional political operation when compared to the Republican National Committee. A failure to leap into an essential fight about the future of working families and their unions, as well as public education and public services, will raise questions about whether DC Democrats "get" what America is debating about.
And there is a bottom line: if the DC Democrats don't "get" it, Wisconsin will only be the first of their frustrations in 2012.
1 | 2