Monday, November 8, 2010

What's the Matter With Wisconsin?

What’s the matter with Wisconsin? Did they drink the Kansas Kool-aid? The state with a proud progressive heritage has turned its back on the ideals of some of the most iconic figures in that states history. Robert La Follette must be turning over in his grave. CNN reports on the red wave that has inundated that most liberal of states:

The wave of red crashed ashore in Wisconsin as well, as Republicans took over the governor's mansion, a Senate seat, two U.S. House seats and the state legislature.

Political newcomer Ron Johnson defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold by a comfortable 5-point margin, and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker took the governor's office by a similar margin over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Republican Kurt Schuller defeated incumbent state Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass, and Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen was re-elected. Secretary of State Doug LaFollette was the only Democrat left standing among statewide officeholders.

Democrats lost control of both houses of the state legislature, making Wisconsin the only state in the nation where Democrats lost a governor's office, a Senate seat and a complete legislature, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

I guess Wisconsin didn’t repudiate the ideology of all of the La Follettes. The Secretary of State was the only Democrat who survived the blood bath.

Thomas Frank who wrote about his fellow Kansan’s as a bunch of knuckle dragging dimwits would have the same thoughts about his fellow travelers in the once liberal north:

"Not too long ago, Kansas would have responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay. This would have been a political certainty, as predictable as what happens when you touch a match to a puddle of gasoline. When business screwed the farmers and the workers—when it implemented monopoly strategies invasive beyond the Populists furthest imaginings—when it ripped off shareholders and casually tossed thousands out of work—you could be damned sure about what would follow.

Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: To the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip today’s Kansans of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land and next thing you know they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed—unions, antitrust, public ownership—and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower."

It looks like Thomas Frank's world just shrank.

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