Eye on the Ball

In a letter to Jonathan Jackson dated 2 October, 1789, John Adams wrote,

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

Adams was a smart man.  He saw what was coming.  He predicted the great division between Republicans and Democrats.  I doubt, though, if he’d predict that one of the two parties would become clinically insane, but that’s a story for another day.

But he also hadn’t had the opportunity to meet the modern Democratic party.  As Will Rogers once quipped,

I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.

The modern Democratic party can factionalize and cleve along the most ridiculous lines imaginable.  It’s both a strength and a weakness.  It’s a strength in that it keeps the Party functioning as a learning organization.  New ideas can cause divisions and that can lead to a good policy shift.  But when it comes to the politics and not the policy, it can be a very bad thing (think the 1968 Chicago convention).  And they’ll do it over the smallest issues.  Take the difference between Kathleen Falk and Tom Barrett as a random “for instance” (wink, wink!).

The policy distance (because, after all, it’s really a question of policy and nothing more) between Falk and Barrett is about 1 millimeter.  They’re not the same, it’s true, but in perspective, they’re not really very different either.  However,  the policy distance between either one of them and Scott Walker is about 1 AU.  So continuing to fight over the Falk / Barrett differences is pointless.  It was, quite honestly, pointless before the primary.

It was certainly pointless for bloggers and radio personalities to tear down Tom Barrett in order to create the appearance of an elevation of Kathleen Falk.  And that was the principal source of my frustration during the primary season.  There were people who felt the need to use those kinds of inter-party tactics within the party primary.  I strongly disagree with that tactic.

As if fighting the power and wealth of the modern Republican party weren’t enough, we’ve shouldn’t waste our precious energy and resources squabbling over who is the more “severely progressive” candidate.   And when our candidate-of-choice doesn’t win, do we take our toys and go home where we snipe and snarl at the very people we should be working with to recall Walker?  I hope not.  I really do.

If we learned nothing else from the Insane Clown Posse Republican Presidential Primary, it should be that inter-party tactics don’t work in intra-party contests.  They drag everyone down.

No candidate is perfect.  Kathleen Falk isn’t perfect.  And Tom Barrett certainly isn’t perfect.  Kathleen Vinehout and Doug LaFollette aren’t perfect.  Tom Barrett would not have been my first choice gubernatorial candidate, all things considered.  But he was, in my very humble opinion, the best in the field offered to be able to defeat Scott Walker.  And that, after all, is what this is all about, is it not?  Defeating Scott Walker is the ball.

Most of the folks who supported candidates other than Tom Barrett have said to me personally that they will, of course, support Barrett in the coming election.  Our quaint two-party system affords them little choice in this matter.  While some are more reluctant than others, it’s clear that most of us have our eye on the ball.

I can only hope that, should Barrett fail to unseat Walker, we won’t see the emergence of the 20/20 Hindsight Keyboard Kommandos.

“Falk would have won!”

“LaFollette had a better chance!”

“Barrett had no chance!  See?  I told you!  I predicted this!”

I truly hope that that won’t come to pass.

We’re all in this together, one and all.

So let us march forward together and erase the memory of Walkerism from Wisconsin.  Let us return her to the ethics and values that made her the envy of the nation.


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2 thoughts on “Eye on the Ball

  1. Tom Barrett is an exceptional candidate who is in tune with the Democratic electorate to a remarkable degree. You can see him growing by the day. This profile captures it.

    The ward I live in on the east side of Madison is one of the most Democratic in the United States (96% in general elections). We went 66% – 23% for Barrett yesterday, compared to 58% – 34% statewide. Having talked to a lot of people, it was not a surprise. My (union) workplace, pretty much the same.

    He’s got the support, he’s got the message. Eyes on the prize, people.

  2. You are right. We should keep our eyes on the ball, and Tom Barrett is now our man. Let’s take out Walker, to the trash, and then we can watch while he is charged with crimes.

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