Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wedge Issues Or Good Organizing?

Republicans in Wisconsin have been making major gains politically and socially since the 1980's. The party came back to power with the rise of the Reagan Democrats-white ethnic working class that began leaveing the Democrats in droves with the decline of the industrial bases (unions) and most importantly gender and race-and the religious right. They organized with issues, abortion, tax cuts-Tommy Thompson cleverly hitched the issue to schools and lazy unionized teachers-and crime/race-the state passed truth in sentencing laws and went on a prison building binge which hooked in lots of trades and prison workers (mostly white). This has brought them political power that looks to be long lasting.

The Democratic strategy in the state has been to either depend on the New Deal coalition-union members, blacks, jews, liberal women and a smattering of gays and environmentalists or to become more like Republicans with a conservative pitch to the suburban voter who is a larger and larger percentage of the electorate. These voters tend to be more conservative fiscally but socially liberal so they are able to capture a few of these folk.

But one of the favorite past times from these liberal shores on the coast is to blame the media, think tanks and nasty politics and not look to the base reasons why the Democratic Party is in decline.

Yesterday's announcement that the State Senate had voted to put the death penalty on the ballot along with the November vote on banning civil unions and marriages was met with howls from the Democratic amen corner on public radio and in the written press.

Here's a proposal, out organize them on these issues. Put forward left issues like health care, living wages, progressive taxation and equal funding for schools. Stop complaining and put forward a vision of how the state can be not just how it shouldn't.

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