Wisconsin Recall Vote
Last night marked the darkest hour in all of human history. Humanity has seen pestilence, wars, famine, genocide, and atrocities of all shapes and sizes. But all of that paled in comparison to Scott Walker’s “surviving” a recall victory by a “narrow” 7-point margin.
Why was this the darkest day in human history? Because it was the day democracy died.
It’s the end of the USA as we know it, but strangely I feel fine.
According to Democrats, the recall election was either the moment western civilization marked its inevitable decline or a great sign that Barack Obama is going to roll to re-election. While the truth is probably somewhere in between, either way Democrats expressed tremendous outrage over this election that was bought by Scott Walker and the evil Rethuglicans. Evidently spending a lot of money on elections is a bad thing. Unless of course you’re Barack Obama.
The narrative shift demonstrates a couple of things about the progressive left, neither particularly positive. The first is the blatant dishonesty. It’s quite amusing to listen to these people complain about “the death of democracy” when they’ve spent the better part of the past 18 months organizing, busing people in from other states, staging rallies and sit-ins, ushering their representatives out of the state in the middle of the night to shut the legislature down, and basically just throwing giant hissy fits because they aren’t getting what they wanted.
More importantly, it highlights something that has been an essential fabric of the left since the Enlightenment: their utter contempt for people. According to their vision of how the world should work, Scott Walker would easily have been thrown out on his keister were it not for all the money funneling into Wisconsin on his behalf. The implication is that the people are so dumb that they forgot how angry they are supposed to be with Walker just because of a bunch of 30 second advertisements. I wonder if these people even realize how arrogant and snobbish they sound. Because there is a rather nasty undercurrent to all this talk that makes it seem that they don’t have too high an opinion of most other individuals.
As I said, this really dates back to the Enlightenment, particularly the philosophes of the French Enlightenment. As Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote, it was a common tendency among the philosophes to generalize the virtues and elevate “the whole of mankind” over the individual. The most striking example of this wariness towards real, live, human beings was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Throughout his writings, but especially in his Confessions, he continually wrote of other people in a manner that demonstrated his contempt for them. He felt so isolated from the world that he wrote:
I am now alone on earth, no longer having any brother, neighbor, friend, or society other than myself. The most sociable and the most loving of human has been proscribed from society by unanimous agreement. In the refinements of their hatred, they have sought the torment which would be cruelest to my sensitive soul and have violently broken all the ties which attached me to them. I would have loved men in spite of themselves. Only by ceasing to be humane, have they been able to slip away from my affection. They are now strangers, unknowns, in short, nonentities to me – because that is what they wanted.
And yet his entire philosophy was geared towards improving the lot of mankind.
This succinctly summarizes the attitude of much of the left throughout history: they love humanity, but they hate people. Much of what I have read and seen over the past 24 hours has made that abundantly clear.
I haven’t discussed the Wisconsin recall vote. It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my disdain for populism that I find recall elections to be complete shams, and this goes whether the affected officeholder(s) are Democrats or Republicans. Had I been blogging in 2003 I would have said the same for the recall vote that ousted Gray Davis in California. Voters know going into an election that they are voting people into office for a certain amount of time, and they have to live with the consequences of said vote. Barring glaring corruption or malfeasance, elected officials should remain in office for the duration of their terms. If recalls became regular features of the democratic process, elected leaders would never enact meaningful change lest they be booted out of office at the drop of a hat. And while as a society we have grown cynical and jaded regarding politicians, there is something to be said about stability in office. After all, we can vote the bums out every two, four, or six years depending on the office – as the voters in Indiana have done with Senator Richard Lugar, who I believe was first elected shortly after New Hampshire ratified the Constitution.
In the specific case of Wisconsin, the unions have led the effort to boot Governor Scott Walker out of office. It is looking more and more like this will be a futile effort. What’s more, it looks like the DNC has rebuffed requests by the Wisconsin Democrats for help with the election next month. The local Dems asked for $500,000, and so far the DNC has sayed, “NYET!”
Leaving aside your feelings about this recall effort, is this a smart move by the DNC? Yes, there is this little election coming up in November, and the party’s fundraising hasn’t gone as spectacularly as hoped. And even though the polls have been close, it is a better than 50/50 proposition that Scott Walker holds onto his seat. It would arguably be better for the Democrats to funnel their resources where they are needed, like potentially closer than originally thought House elections in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.*
*Okay, that might be the thing of fevered fantasies, but you never know.
That being said, a Democratic victory in June would be a colossal shot in the arm for the party. Polls indicate that President Obama has a very narrow lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, and this is certainly a state that Republicans could capture in November. I wouldn’t suggest that there is a direct correlation between the recall election in June and the general election in November, but it doesn’t hurt (usually) to have the incumbent governor campaigning for the presidential candidate. By bypassing this election the Democrats could be hurting Obama’s chances in the state later on in the year.