Lyndon Johnson’s 61.1% to 38.5% over Barry Goldwater in the 1964 popular vote and FDR’s 523 to 8 electoral college landslide over Alf Landon in 1936 are the Democratic party’s two biggest victories ever.
Scott Walker’s election in Wisconsin may prove to be an even bigger victory for the Democrats.
In the view of partisans, Walker won because significant numbers of Democrats stayed home on election day; by inference the blame for the governor’s union busting tactics lies with these stay-at-home voters. This unpropitious circumstance is seen as an abject lesson to party loyalists – vote Democrat or bad things will happen. It has also given partisans a new enemy – collaborators within the ranks. Mix the lesson and the enemy, throw in a little fear, shake it up and voila ! You get the reason the Democrats won big in Wisconsin. Let me address these two peculiarities then briefly explain why it was a victory.
Any list of liberal values would certainly include peace and social justice. Some of the rank and file may view these issues with more urgency than others; those exhibiting a sense of urgency might be viewed as too idealistic, yet few would disagree that peace and social justice have a place in liberal dogma.
Following Wisconsin, those liberals voicing opposition to the administration’s continued and expanding military roles are no longer considered idealistic. Party loyalists now consider opposition to the administration’s wars to be divisive, indeed those not on board with the president’s war efforts are considered by some partisans to be working on behalf of the Republican party. Peace is a worthwhile pursuit only if a Republican holds the executive.
The same “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” mantra applies to social justice as well. Criticism of policy favoring the F.I.R.E. sector over job creation is unacceptable; failure to be enthusiastic enough over a health insurer bailout masquerading as affordable health care will “out” one as either an Obama basher or a Palin supporter. One not marching in lockstep is no longer an individualist, party loyalists now regard dissent as virtual treason.
Simple truth – people get off their couches and vote when they see something in it for themselves. A political party that ignores its base until it needs their votes risks alienating all but the most enthusiastic among its supporters. Yet when voters in 2010 didn’t flock to the polls to vote Democrat, partisans didn’t see this as a party failure and chastise the leadership – instead they blamed the alienated voters for not accepting yet another round of empty promises. The lesson learned by partisan’s from Wisconsin is this – the Democratic Party does not exist to serve its members, it’s members exist to serve the Democratic Party.
So why is Wisconsin a massive victory for the Democratic leadership?
Simple. They no longer have to do anything. Anything at all. Party loyalists will gladly accept whatever swill the party leadership chooses to ladle over their prostrate bodies. Their fear of Republicans is total, their derision and contempt for those with principle is absolute, their fawning adoration and Stockholm Syndrome deference is complete. Like fundamentalist Christians in a revival tent, they shout Hallelujah as their pockets are picked.
Get off your knees. You’re pathetic.