Apr 13, 2014

Wisconsin Dems Hope for Massive Republican Implosion—Their Only Shot in 2014

Intercepted communication from
the Wisconsin Democratic Party,
or possibly from Mary Burke.
Difficult to see the source or message.
Matthew DeFour's analysis in this morning's Wisconsin State Journal on the prospects of Wisconsin Democrats retaking the legislature is telling.

DeFour does not mention the words, "gerrymander," instead referring to "(p)artisan redistricting."

Republican voting obstruction is described as changes to "voting rules."

The rest of the piece is tripe with quotes from Democratic and Republican Party bureaucrats, though the conclusion the Democratic Party can retake the state senate is sound.

That's what we can expect from the traditional media in Wisconsin.

The problem for the Democrats is the campaign communications of their candidate at the top of the November ticket, Mary Burke, assuming no one else jumps in.

Does Burke rail incessantly against the most corrupt, destructive governor in Wisconsin history a la Bob La Follette or Gaylord Nelson who virtually reinvented political movements?

Not a chance, and Burke's communications director, Joe Zepecki, has to be the most useless political operative since, well take your pick among the current cast of Wisconsin Democratic do-nothings.

Has anyone ever seen such a broad array of killer issues the Republicans have supplied non-Republicans?

The traditional media of dailies and broadcast media are as uninformative as the performance of the Wisconsin Democratic Party functionaries who appear more interested in drawing paychecks than winning elections, much less creating something resembling a political infrastructure.

And Wisconsin progressives should not waste time with George Lakoff as some political savior for progressive communications, in the absence of an effective Democratic Party.


Lakoff's main contention is obvious, the assertion that compelling communications supporting an appealing message are more politically effective than non-compelling communications (or no political communications) in support of a not-so-appealing message.

Think impressions—the projection of one image onto one human brain (a voter).

This is what is called public relations, and it's been around about a century.

"If Lakoff is right, his theory can do everything from overturning millennia of misguided thinking in the Western intellectual tradition to putting a Democrat in the White House," writes Steven Pinker is a scathing review of Lakoff's work. "Though it contains messianic claims about everything from epistemology to political tactics, [Lakoff's 2006 Whose Freedom ...] has no footnotes or references (just a generic reading list), and cites no studies from political science or economics, and barely mentions linguistics. Its use of cognitive neuroscience goes way beyond any consensus within that field, and its analysis of political ideologies is skewed by the author's own politics and limited by his disregard of centuries of prior thinking on the subject."

Forget Lakoff, use Scott Walker.

Scott Walker is the most target-rich politician in Wisconsin since Joe McCarthy and Burke and the Democrats keep missing the mark.

"'If your goal is to hold down wages and turn Wisconsin into a subsidiary of Koch Industries, then Governor Walker’s your guy,' [Maryland Gov. Martin] O’Malley (D) said, referring to the giant conglomerate headed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who are prolific political donors." (Wagner. Washington Post)

That's the message.

Throw in Walker's jobs failure and the host of other issues on which Wisconsin state Democrats [national Democrats are much more effective] are mostly silent and November 2014 might be an exciting month for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin activists and writers aren't giving up.

But the Democratic Party of Wisconsin should rightfully drown itself in the waters of Lake Winnebago, and campaign from the bottom with the zebra mussels.

The way the party campaign is proceeding, it will take a John Doe revelation (Walker and the GOP are trying to stall the criminal probe), with an effective Democratic Party response, for Scott Walker and the Republicans to fall.

Otherwise Georgia is going to elect a Democratic governor before Wisconsin.


  1. Well said MAL. The media isn't going to go out of their way to tell the truth about this failing administration. It's the job of Joe Zepecki and Melissa Baldauff and Mike Tate and the rest of the Dems to keep bringing up the corruption and failures, or else they go away. Seriously, what the hell are they holding back for?

    Why does it take the Governor of Maryland to state in one sentence the winning campaign message that almost no in-state Dems want to say. I'm starting to believe again that Burke needs to be challenged, just to push the message out there. Do you even see her name in the news more than once or twice a week (other than a Politi-crap hit job on her)?

    1. Seriously, no. And like most following the race, I have Burke and Walker alerts. Walker is in some Wisconsin paper, almost every day. I do see Rep. Ron Kind (R- La Crosse) often in Facebook. Let's hope Kind gets in. Burke's campaign is a colossal cluster-fuck.

    2. It seems like Kind (who's a D, by the way), is waiting to take out Johnson in the 2016 Senate election, but he sure talks about Walker a lot. I think it was extremely weak of him not to run for Guv, in no small part because he's good on the issues Walker is bad at (Medicaid, education), and he'd win big, given that he's from outstate and generally liked. And also because that seat is Russ Feingold's to recover if Russ wants it.

      You can call Burke's campaign a clusterfuck, but I disagree. Mostly because I truly don't know what their plan is. It's the timidness that's the most vexing, because being timid is the best way to guarantee a loss for Dems in this race. When Burke speaks or give policy positions, she's reasonably good. BUT YOU HAVE TO SELL IT.

  2. Sometimes you can only fix a party by threatening them. I am running in the 19th Assembly as an independent (Pirate Party) against a pack of Democrats. We have no Republican opposition. If the Democrats fail to win in the 19th it will nock them out of their stupor. I will support progressive legislation and a level of transparency beyond anything before seen in Madison.



    • Enact a $10.10 minimum wage.
    • Enact marriage equality.
    • Enact equal pay for equal work.
    • Enact marijuana legalization and regulation.
    • Repeal ACT 10.
    • Make legislative caucus meetings open & online.
    • Stream all committee meetings online & live.
    • Enact the expansion of voting times and multiple early voting locations based on population.
    • Request UW Madison design a secure on line registration and voting system.
    • Amend the WI and US Constitution to make it clear to the courts that money is not speech, and corporations are not people.

  3. MAL - your assessment of the Burke/WisDems messaging is true on the whole. Your assessment of Lakoff's (and others) neural/cognitive research however is way off base. Happy to discuss in more detail with you...see my email to you sent today.