Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Have It In Our Power To Begin Wisconsin Over Again

By Jeff Simpson

In every election as far back as I can remember, the party in power gets smoked in the mid-terms.  For Wisconsinites, the timing could not be better.   The 2018 election will be much more important than the beating the Democrats took last night.   The work for that needs to begin today,  but first we need some housekeeping and lessons from the election of 2016(from a Wisconsin point of view). 

1.  The old rules of how to campaign, win elections etc... all got thrown out the window this year.  While normal candidates, by the book, spent thousands on polling(more on this later), the Donald spent more on hats than he did polling.   The Donald had no real ground game, fought with everyone and spent most of his energy attacking anyone who criticized him, yet was the first Republican to win WI since Ronnie.

2.  There NEEDS to be accountability.   We have zero power now to make change, but we have all of the power to demand change.   There needs to be resignations and they need to come yesterday.   I would recommend we start with Martha Laning, Kory Kozlowski and whoever the head of research for the party is because he/she apparently had no idea that many people were running for office on the Dem Ticket.   We need to continue on and get new leadership in the State Senate and Assembly.   Jen Shilling and Peter Barca need to step down from their "lack of " leadership positions.

3. I recommend that David Bowen take over the party for the next year and he hire Mandela Barnes as Executive Director.   Then Mandela can decide after a year if he wants to run for office again or take over the WISDEMS.  One way or another, Mandela Barnes is part of the future of our party.    I also recommend that Kathleen Vinehout be Senate Minority leader and that Katrina Shankland be Assembly Democratic Leader with Jonathon Brostoff as her assistant.    Fresh leadership is desperatly needed!  

4.  Anyone who tells you that Bernie would not have done better against The Donald is just trying to cover up their own incompetence and lack of understanding of the election process and the Wisconsin electorates, so please take what they say with a huge grain of sand!  

5.  We need to have all of the super delegates, understand their role in the massive losses that we sustained in Wisconsin.   Bernie was a huge favorite, won Wisconsin primary handily, and yet all but David Bowen used their super delegate vote for HRC.  Wisconsinites who supported Bernie were contacting them to advocate for their candidate, some of the SD's were reprinting their letters and openly mocking them on social media.   

David Bowen, Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, Tammy Baldwin, Martha Laning, Jason Rae, Christine Bremer Muggli, Martha Love and Michael Childers.   

 6.  The old saying of "Don't mourn, Organize" is becoming passe' and needs to be edited to say "Don't mourn, talk".   I understand that everyone needs a little time to let the loss sink in but do not withdraw.   I see lots of my liberal/progressive friends on social media unfriending their Trump supporting friends and family members.  Stop it!

I have no problem criticizing our elected officials who are bigoted, anti education, racist and just plain dumb.  Keep that up, but their supporters are a different story.  We need to dialogue with them, try and understand them, see where they are coming from.  how they got there. and what you have in common.  Help them see the same things about you.   A big problem is we have put ourselves in a little bubble and only hear and see what we want too.   That happens on both sides (see News Fox) and we need to find ways to step outside our bubble and into theirs and vice versa.    

So Don't mourn, engage!    

7.  Find a spot for Mandy Wright.  Like Mandela Barnes, Mandy Wright also needs to be the future of the party!   

8.  Lets stop pretending that Charles Franklin and Nate Silver are heroes, guru's, experts or geniuses.  It is time to recognize that the anonymous opinion of a thousand people does not speak for 5 million others.   Polls are fine and they are good to know some information, but like a standardized test in public schools, tell us just a small frame of a feature film.   

9.  Who is the base of the Democratic Party?  As a former industrial, heavily unionized, blue state, the economy is not working for many many people.  With Gatt, NAFTA, WTO, And now the TPP, states like Wisconsin have been crushed economically.

Why have we allowed someone like Scott Walker to divide and conquer?  Because there is no champion to unite us.   No person to acknowledge the fact that we have lost jobs, that poverty is going up and so are incomes of the upper class.  No one to acknowledge that people are working two jobs and losing their homes.   No one to acknowledge that attacking public workers for having health insurance while we allow our politicians to give millions of our tax dollars to their friends no questions asked is hurting our state.  

That is what made Bernie so popular in WI(he won 71/72 counties) and elsewhere.   He spoke to the people that needed a champion.  He spoke directly to them and told them he gets it and understand their pain and the importance of fixing it.     

The people of Wisconsin, and elsewhere, are desperate not only for a populist message but a sincere populist message.    If you can filter out the racism, sexism, bigotry, etc... (and many people could) the message that Trump was saying was a populist message,   He told the people that he understood that they are losing their jobs to Mexico and China etc...  He let them know that he understood that we need jobs in America and that if you elect him the jobs will come back.    Ignoring the fact that the messenger was incredibly hypocritical, and the part of the problem, but the message resonated.   

10.   The Dem party, which includes the party apparatchik, made many mistakes throughout.   
          A. This is the first election in memory where the candidate did not make an appearance in the final days before the election.   Great idea.  

          B.  Hillary did send many surrogates here (Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren) and every time, they gave speeches to a solid crowd of Democrats and not once, did local/statewide candidates get a chance to share the stage and introduce themselves.   Now when we start looking at the next election, we get to hear how so many Democrats do not have "name recognition". 

          C.  Statewide Dems, who had a chance to get on a bigger stage, never once did they start naming names and talking about winning.   For instance, Mark Pocan was on Mike Gousha show and when asked about Paul Ryan working with The Donald, never once even mention the fact that Ryan Solen was running against him and he had to win his election first.   

11.  We need to identify who the base actually is.   It should be a big tent party where we bring in and appeal to everyone from the white working class to the minorities to the CEO's to the people in poverty.  If you follow politics, really follow politics, you know that many Trump/Walker supporters should be voting why aren't they

12.   There is a whole professional political class, that moves from one inside job to another and they are destroying our state.   The consultant class is consulting our state into a bright bright shade of red. For instance: 
 *  As Nation Consulting owns writes:  2. THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET. This is not the case of one thing going wrong. If you think nominating Bernie changes this 180 degrees, no. If you think more money changes this, no. If you think only racism or sexism or bigotry explains this, no. If you think only economics or culture explains this, no. If you think any one thing being different is the solution, no. A clusterfuck of this proportion only happens when many, many things go wrong. So take your simplistic answers and shove them.
It is not simple but if you think nominating Bernie would not have made a difference then you can take your simplistic understanding of the WI electorate and shove it! Of course a shill for Hillary would downplay the importance of the vast majority of Wisconsinites.

* Former Mary Burke team member, Joe Zepecki(who handled the press operations for Burke, on what might be the worse press operation campaign in history), who was given numerous chances on news talk shows to "speak for the Democrats", was also given the keys to a multi million dollar Super PAC (For Our Future Fund), which focused on community organizing, was based in Milwaukee. The lower turnout in Milwaukee was the difference in helping the Donald win WI and the Presidency.

Looking at some numbers (not sure what they mean, except turnout matters). (Assuming the results are all in) Clinton had similar margins of victory as Obama in Milwaukee County (66% to 29% vs 67% to 32%; 162,895 more votes in 2016 vs 169,660 in 2012). However, Obama collected 39,104 more total votes in Milwaukee County. Trump's statewide margin of victory was 26,788.

*  Many statewide candidates hired a company from Chicago called The Strategy Group.  Apparently this group of high priced political consultants from Chicago, most of whom were from the Coasts and Washington DC, were the perfect group to tell us how to win in Ladysmith, Winter and Oconto.    Of course right up until election day when they cash their checks, head home and their candidates get their hats handed to them.  

13.   The party insiders need to get over themselves and take a long hard look in the mirror.  Wisconsin was a blue state until Mike Tate and his crew took over and now we are a bright red state.   Members of his team turned that kind of success into other jobs, like Jake Hadju, who ran Hillary's operations in WI( the first time since 1984 that a Republican won our state).  

Many of the team are outright hostile to people who are not members of the party or have criticisms.  Which leads to divisions in the party and Republican landslides.   If they want to continue in their old habits, then they need to find a new career.  If they are willing to acknowledge that their way has not worked in years then lets all work together and change this state back to blue! 

14. Do not be a party of the Republicans suck, be a party of telling stories and holding Republicans accountable.   For example, in the last week before the election, Paul Ryan had someone yell at his GOTV rally "Where is Lee Harvey Oswald when you need him?" and Paul Ryan completely ignored it.  So did the media and the Democratic party.   What would have happened if someone yelled that about Scott Walker at a Democratic GOTV rally? 

15.   Finally, we need some people to start running for Governor now.   Lets get name recognition and message fine tuned soon.  We need to let the Republicans attack them now, and make the hard core criticisms old news by election season!  

Extra Credit:   Make Alan Grayson head of the Democratic National Committee! 

We can do this.  2018 can bring a new day but we need to work together and we need to start now! 


  1. Well said, Jeff. The corporate careerists and consultants that have been steering this state party need to go drive themselves off a cliff. The people need to truly take back the party, or Wisconsin will permanently be a red state.

  2. Is this the same Mandela Barnes who has not done anything as a State Rep? You want to make him head of party of operations. I was with your dissent until #3. I strongly disagree with #3

  3. I'm surprised that anyone would disagree with Mandela Barnes as an excellent choice to lead the party. The criticsm offered, 'did not do anything as state rep,' is simply, lame. Strictly speaking, with the GOP stranglehold on our state, 'doing anything,' except for speaking out intelligently, was not even an optiom.

  4. And Barca as Assembly leader? What's your assessment of him?

  5. OMG. You took the words right out of my mouth, although you added more excellent thoughts.

    The Dem Party is going to review what went wrong. What a joke. They've been doing the same shit since Anthony Earl. I'm not sure they'll get it until Dane & Milwaukee go red, as well. The sheer arrogance and inability to listen to anyone in rural counties is annoying & frustrating to say the least.

    Your comment about consultants is spot on. I was partially listening and watching a TV ad that I was sure was for Ron Johnson until I heard the disclaimer. I literally screamed and uttered several profane words. And, the van with a dozen people coming out. WTF!

    I am sharing this with everyone I know who is as disgusted as we are.

  6. IMPORTANT: State Superintendent Tony Evers will be the next right wing target. We need to organize for the Spring Election on APRIL 4, 2017 (Primary FEBRUARY 21, 2017) This is a non-partisan race (just like supreme court justices) but we know better. Evers is the firewall between public schools and Scott Jensen's American Federation for Children advocates for education privatization. There are already 3 candidates who have declared their intention to run. The way this works is the top 2 voter getters in the primary go on to run against each other in the general. Lowell Holtz (endorsed by the 2013 Evers opponent retired Rep. Don Pridemore) and Jeff Holmes are the right wing candidates. Remy Gomez appears to be the token colorful character. Evers donations:

  7. Grayson for head of Democratic National Committee. Because if you are going to go crazy, why not full tilt bat shit crazy?

  8. Again, while knowing that I will draw the ire of the far left let me begin my own rebuttal of Jeff. I believe Jeff and I are more similar than different but I think we represent the difference in the democratic party. Below are a few of the things I believe would be necessary to have the democratic party become the majority party in Wisconsin.

    1. People are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Quit proposing programs that the government pays for without an equal amount be taken out of the budget.

    2. Quit listening to people surveying on college campuses and metropolitin areas. It does not work. This is our base. They will vote for us no matter. Expand. Find others that believe our policies are better.

    3. Quit being such elitists. I was told that I was a racist but wasn't smart enough to realize that I was a racist. The democratic party or more specifically the members have made it an all or none party. Unfortunately most rural americans dont agree.

    4. In order for the democratic party to be successful they need to get off the college campuses and into the churches and bars. The democratic party used to be inclusve until it found that people didnt agree with them.

    5. TBC depending on the response.

    1. Again with the im so pragmatic and right the crazies will hate me.

      1. I agree actually that people are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. You will never hear me calling Republicans "conservative" because there is nothing conservative or fiscally conservative about them. In case you didnt notice our last wi budget was the biggest in history while also saddling us with more debt than anytime in history of wi.

      They do however do a good job of telling everyone how fiscally conservative they are. That being said not sure what programs your talking about that the dems discussed.

      In this era of Citizens United I don't remember seeing issues being discussed in a political race in quite some time.

      2. I agree that the Dem party needs to expand ....but i would suggest they have to start paying more attention to non members who are liberal and progressive instead of treating them like pariahs.

      3. I agree with that they do get very elitist.

      4. I have always said and still believe that the same issues that matter (for the most part) to rural voters (jobs, public ed, future for their kids) also matter to urbanites and college kids. The problem is the Dems pretend there is a difference and dont know how to speak to either.