Election 2014  
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Does the Liberal Establishment Care About Anything But Itself? The Hard Lessons of Wisconsin

"The lesson of Wisconsin is pretty straightforward," says Van Jones. "This is what happens when we put our minimum against their maximum."

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And then the second step in this thought experiment is: What do you think the you of 2013 would be begging the you of 2012 to do this year? Because you want to have a no-regrets 2012. With the stakes this high, it's very easy to sit back. You know, it was very fashionable four years ago to be optimistic, and now it's fashionable to be very cynical. It's very easy to sit back and say, well, I'm just so disgusted by Obama I'm not going to do anything. The problem with that is that tomorrow always comes. And when you're living in the world created by your inaction, you're going to have to then work 12 times harder just to lose less than if you work now to quite possibly make some actual gains.

We're going to fight anyway; we're going to be involved anyway. The question is are we going to just blow this year and then have to spend 20 years cleaning up the mess.

AS: Meanwhile, the right always takes the long view. They keep pushing forward even when they've been defeated in a particular battle. And they didn't exactly love George W. Bush, but they fought to get him reelected.

VJ: No, not at all. And they didn't love George H.W. Bush. And they didn't love Reagan when he was there [in the White House]. That's the other thing.

AS: People forget that. The history has been revised.

VJ: It's been revised. They didn't love Reagan when Reagan was there. When Reagan was there, they thought his talking to Gorbachev was showing a softness. They thought he wasn't pro-life enough. He also raised taxes. So they didn't like Reagan when he was there. They just created their own mythology around Reagan to beat everybody else up with, but Reagan wouldn't be accepted in the Republican Party of today. But they do take the long view, and we take the microscopic view.

The other thing I said in my speech, and I keep saying to everybody is during Bush, you had the right movement -- millions of people for peace. You can't fault the peace movement; we had as many people marching for peace in the streets of America the first six weeks leading up to the Iraq War than we had in the first six years of the Vietnam War. So, you can't fault the peace movement, but you had the wrong president.

With Obama, you had arguably the right president, but you had the wrong movement with the Tea Party out there, pulling things in a negative direction. The key is to have the right president and the right movement at the same time. That's what we've got to be aiming for. You've got to have a president who is willing to be moved -- which is not Bush and not Romney. But then you've got to have a movement that's willing to do the  moving. And that's what we've got to be aiming for, which means that we have to work twice as hard as we did in 2008, not half as hard or a tenth as hard.

You know, I look around and I don't hear a lot of progressives talking about where they're going to spend October in terms of the swing states. I don't hear people talking about the fundraisers that they're doing. I don't hear [of] people doing any of the things that we did in 2008. And if we think we're going to put our minimum up against our opponents' maximum, when they've been given this huge window with Citizens United and all of this voter disenfranchisement, then we're crazy.