PROVIDENCE, RI- If it weren’t for the amount of money the Koch brothers and other conservative groups spent in Wisconsin, union members would have been successful at recalling Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), top liberal activists said today.
At a panel discussion on “What to Do When the Right Comes After You” liberal activists spent the morning deliberating why certain, recent liberal campaigns were successful, such as Planned Parenthood’s fight to have their Komen funding reinstated, and others failed, including the Wisconsin recall election held last Tuesday. The panel was part of Netroots Nation, an annual conference for progressive bloggers and activists, that is taking place in Providence, RI this weekend.
Spokespersons from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Planned Parenthood first said they still weren’t sure how to turn organic, local issues like the one that caused Walker’s recall into national issues or how to fight back when the Right is clearly winning. Throughout the panel they listed various potential reasons for the Wisconsin recall loss, such as the fact that AFSCME had just begun growing it’s facebook community when the recall occurred, so it was ill prepared to organize online. Or that at the national level, the staff was not large enough to control the narrative.
“I don’t know what the message is out there in the mainstream media, “said Tracey Conaty, a spokesperson for AFSCME, an influential national union.
But despite getting their “a**es handed to them” in Wisconsin and elsewhere on issues important to them, Conaty said the Left sent a message to conservatives – there will be repercussions for messing with union workers’ rights.
“Win or lose on this recall, we sent a message loud and clear,” Conaty said.
What that message was, the panelists couldn’t seem to agree on, but by the end of the panel the panelists at least seemed to settle the issue of why they lost in Wisconsin: money.
“It’s a huge f**king problem,” Conaty said of the GOP’s ability to raise and spend large amounts of money on grassroots organizing.
Even before Walker successfully fended off the union-fueled recall election liberal activists and pundits tried to downplay the significance of the their forthcoming, humiliating loss, by claiming that the money, not Walker’s policies, would be responsible for the GOP’s win.
“Thousands of Wisconsinites mounted this effort in the face of a flood of out of state, secret and corporate special interest money– amounting to a massive $31 million war chest for Governor Walker to just $4 million on our side,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz said in a statement on the night of the recall.
However, with the “truth” on their side, Conaty assured the audience that eventually, the Left would be victorious on issues like maintaining collective bargaining rights for union members (the issue which sparked the Wisconsin recall).
But the truth is that Democrats were not outspent in Wisconsin by as much as they claim. As Hot Air notes, liberals were actually outspent by at most 2-1 and more realistically 1.5 to 1 in Wisconsin. As even Politico’s Alexander Burns points out, money alone doesn’t explain why the Left lost in Wisconsin. Furthermore, the idea that Left is behind the Right in terms of online organizing capabilities is laughable.
Luckily for the Left, Netroots last until Saturday. That gives them plenty of time to come up with a new excuse for why the GOP is somehow to blame for the failure of their unpopular policies.