In 1998 I did some volunteering for the Ed Garvey campaign for governor. He was the better candidate, but lost, largely due to a lack of support from the "Democratic" Party of Wisconsin. He wasn’t an "insider" like, say, two-time loser Tom Barrett or convicted felon Chuck Chvala. He stood for something, similar to our current governor, mainly for distributive justice and economic well-being, along with support for public education and protection of the environment.
I made calls for Garvey from the AFSCME headquarters in the Deming Way area of Madison/Middleton. It was a busy, upbeat operation, with many volunteers and friendly, competent supervision.
Two things stood out from that experience. One was that we were calling voters all over the state, explaining to them why they should vote for Garvey. They were random calls, so we weren’t pounding on previous "Democratic" voters from a data base. We also weren’t calling to just Dane County.
The other thing that stood out was that voters were concerned about two things: guns and abortion. This was especially true the farther north they were. We had a stock answer (no pun intended) for the gun question: Ed Garvey supports the Second Amendment to the Constitution. For abortion, he supported choice. It was pretty weird. Gun, er, enthusiasts were inflamed. There was no sense saying anything more than the stock answer. For abortion we were on our own. One woman said to me: “I hear he’s for that partial-birth abortion.” I think I said something about how this was just a misrepresentation of his position.
I did some volunteering after that, in 2010, and during the recalls of 2011 and 2012. The phone and canvassing campaigns were different. They were run by the "Democrats." We called only previous "Democratic" and union voters, and called them repeatedly, urging them to get out and vote. No attempt was made to communicate with anyone else, and our script (the Garvey campaign had no script) just had scare messages about what the "Republicans" would do if they didn’t vote.
The "Democrats" have been losing a series of statewide elections since 2010, and the relatively few races they have won have been by smaller margins than the quality of the candidates have warranted. I don’t volunteer anymore, but I suspect that these candidates ran their own campaigns, and communicated with as many voters as possible throughout the state. Part of the election results can be explained by "Republican" voter chicanery, but a statewide office always calls for a statewide campaign.
Now the behind-the-scenes "Democrats" have lost another Supreme Court race. A popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. The "Democrats" have had the better candidate by far in every race I can remember in recent decades. They have lost far too many times. Some of the losses can be accounted for by voter suppression, but the better candidates should have won anyway. The TV screens in the Madison area were inundated ad nauseum with scare ads about Brian Hagedorn, again pounding reliable constituencies to get out the vote. These ads likely aired in Milwaukee as well. For the rest of the state, likely not at all.
Thanks again, "Democrats." Thanks for nothing. Your losing ways have lost another big race. Now we are stuck with the guy you’ve been scaring us about. Crony capitalism, climate change denial, voter suppression, gerrymandering and election theft are now secure for probably the rest of my life. I told a "Democratic" caller last month that if they didn’t stop calling me I was going to start voting for "Republicans." Now I might as well. They are going to win anyway.
John Hamilton is a Madison resident.
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