It is supremely ironic that, despite, as measured by opinion polls, the unpopularity of Donald Trump and lack of popularity of Gov. Scott Walker, national and state Democrats continue to screw up.
Christian Schneider lists how things have gone for state Democrats, including Democrats not labeled as such, in the past year:
On the night of April 6, 2016, an exhausted Rebecca Bradley stood before her campaign supporters at the Crowne Plaza in Wauwatosa. Bradley had just been elected to a 10-year term on the state’s Supreme Court, and summed up the experience to her election night party by quoting Winston Churchill: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
In the preceding month, Bradley had been through hell. The race had been a brutal one, with the conservative incumbent justice garnering some of the worst media coverage imaginable. In the prior month, opposition groups had dug up embarrassing college newspaper columns Bradley wrote as an undergraduate that took controversial stands on homosexuality and abortion.
Bradley apologized for the pieces, and noted they were written in a fit of despondency over the election of Bill Clinton a quarter-century earlier. But the damage was done. By the end of the campaign, the only way Bradley would have garnered favorable media coverage would have been if she had changed her last name to something more sympathetic, like “Jong Un.”
Yet despite punishing media coverage for a full month, Bradley stood victorious at the podium on election night. It was a moment of clarity for the left in Wisconsin: In races that pit a conservative versus a liberal, voters prefer the conservative virtually every time — even badly damaged ones. In the most recent Supreme Court election, progressives couldn’t even muster a candidate against one-term incumbent conservative Justice Annette Ziegler.
Undoubtedly, much of the right’s success is due to the way conservatives have successfully framed Supreme Court races as “law and order” competitions, where the candidate on the right typically supports tough sentences for criminal behavior and the liberal candidate favors letting felons out on the street.
But the decline of liberals on the court also has tracked closely with the decline of Democrats both in the state and nationally. Since the 2010 elections that flipped control of both houses of the Legislature and the governorship from Democrats to Republicans, the GOP has dominated state elections. (The only hiccup was 2012, which saw Barack Obama carry the state and Democrat Tammy Baldwin win the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Herb Kohl.)
To repeat: In 2008 a majority of Wisconsin voters voted for Barack Obama for president, Democrats in all statewide offices except attorney general, and Democratic majority control of the Legislature. Since that election Democrats have lost all of that except for Secretary of State Douglas La Follette (some things defy explanation) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. Four elections — 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 — have been losers for Democrats except for Obama and Baldwin in 2012, and even in 2012 Republicans maintained majority control of the Legislature. And conservatives have won every Supreme Court race in that timespan except one.
For one reason, let’s go to Morning Joe:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: From everything you have seen, how would you try to best explain Democrats losing more than a thousand state legislative House and Senate seats over the past six years?
TOM BEVAN: Two words: Identity politics.
These working-class voters in the rust belt and other places, they don’t care about who is going to the bathroom in which bathroom in North Carolina.
They look at the Democratic Party and they see someone running against the ‘War on Women,’ they see Black Lives Matter, they see environmental activism. All of that stuff has become a brand of the Democratic Party, which for a lot of these folks it comes down to the economy. It comes down to say-in, day-out. That’s where Democrats have really lost ground.
For another, let’s go to the videotape:
That made New York University Prof. Jonathan Heidt observe to the Wall Street Journal …
“People are sick and tired of being called racist for innocent things they’ve said or done,” Mr. Haidt observes. “The response to being called a racist unfairly is never to say, ‘Gee, what did I do that led to me being called this? I should be more careful.’ The response is almost always, ‘[Expletive] you!’ ”
He offers this real-world example: “I think that the ‘deplorables’ comment could well have changed the course of human history.”
… and author Charles Murray say, as reported by Real Clear Politics:
I think Jonathan Haidt, the social psychologist who started the academy was right. He was right. he had an interview a few weeks ago where he said the ‘Deplorables’ comment by Hillary Clinton changed the history of the world, and he may very well be right. That one comment by itself may have swung enough votes, it certainly was emblematic of the disdain with which the New Upper Class looks at mainstream Americans.
And mainstream America notices this… People will say: ‘You don’t understand. We don’t particularly like Donald Trump, we won’t defend his character. He is our murder weapon.’
I think that is a pretty short, accurate way of showing what function Trump served…
Wisconsin Democrats seem to have learned nothing. When Joseph Jakubowski was arrested without a shot being fired, Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D–La Crosse) said:
“The threat of gun violence is an all too real struggle for families across Wisconsin. Today, that reality hit home in the small town of Viola. Tomorrow, it will be another community.
“We should use this opportunity to strengthen our communities and promote commonsense public safety reforms. It’s time for leaders in Wisconsin to stand up to the powerful gun industry and take proactive steps to keep deadly firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.”
You can wait until hell freezes over for Shilling to apologize to her gun-owning constituents. Or for Clinton to apologize to the Deplorables.