How the Wisconsin Uprising Changed America and Why Its Renegade Politics Are Here to Stay
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The process is struggling a little because even grassroots citizens are sort of obsessed with the political strategy, you know, who is the candidate going to be? How are we going to structure this? And that’s a danger.
Look, we have to be practical about politics. We have to be realistic. We have to recognize that when you schedule an election you’ve got to have a candidate, you’ve got to raise money. But the one thing that will decide whether the Walker recall succeeds or fails is the extent to which it remains a renegade, challenging political endeavor that does not follow the rules of existing parties and existing players.
Walker is following the rules. He is raising money like crazy at a rate of almost $5 million a month and he is doing all the stuff you’re supposed to do. The other side is only beginning to get itself together. But its response must be much more popular. There’s no way you’re going to counter Walker’s money. But when you’ve got 30,000 volunteers, that’s huge.
Now, the other thing too about the Walker recall, and this is a practical reality of why I think it will probably succeed, is that while we care very much about these labor issues, and these popular democracy issues, corrupt corporate power tends to be corrupt. Walker is the subject of a John Doe investigation in Wisconsin that continues to reveal increasing amounts of illegal activity by his aides. The revelations are devastating politically to him. I’ve seen the polling that suggests that it really moves numbers even among moderate Republicans.
So my sense is that the Walker recall will succeed in part because Walker will be in a lot of trouble. But it must succeed as a popular movement that isn’t just about money and politics, it’s got to be real and it’s got to have something to it that excites people because politics shouldn’t be a boring spectator sport.
That’s what Wisconsin was in February and March. People who had never gone to demonstrations decided they wanted to go to demonstrations. You've got to make an election campaign that’s so exciting that people who have never voted want to vote.
Sarah Jaffe is an associate editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and frequent Twitterer. You can follow her at @seasonothebitch.