I’ve been disturbed by a short debate I had on Twitter with a furious Democrat after the Wisconsin heartbreaking results. She was coarsely blaming the Democrats who didn’t bother to vote. I told her instead of blaming voters, we should ask for more inspiring leaders. She called me stupid, saying our leaders are perfect. I tried to reply that insulting people won’t solve anything. She called me an asshole and blocked me.
Democrats in Wisconsin made a big mistake in assuming a platform based on pushing the rewind button prior to Scott Walker’s election would work. “No to Scott Walker” seduced a lot of voters. But not enough.
Sometimes, “no” is enough of a platform. But most often it isn’t. A candidate must be inspiring. The rewind button may sometimes be the best option, but going back where we used to be is not inspiring because we’re been there before. There must be a way forward. Dreams. Projects. Hope.
It was very smart from the Obama campaign to come up with the campaign slogan “Forward”. But so far, the only part of the platform going forward is the slogan itself. If the overall message is “we’re not as bad as the other guys”, it might lead to the election of the other guys.
Wisconsin Democrats assumed that Scott Walker’s shameful reign was enough in itself to cause his defeat. And a majority of voters disagreed.
The main reason appears to me to be civic education or the lack thereof. Fundamental knowledge about our history and the essence of our democracy. Only a minority of voters are able to name the 3 branches of government or 3 of the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court.
It creates basically 3 archetypal voters: the informed conservative, the informed progressive and the uninformed voter.
It puts the Democratic party in a paradoxical position. The party is trying to win the support of uninformed voters by basically ignoring its progressive base. But its platform requires civic education to make sense. It’s very challenging to understand why healthcare reform and gay rights are important if you don’t have a basic civic education.
And so uninformed voters often become accidental conservatives. Because you don’t need to know anything to be a conservative. All you need to understand conservative ideas is the ability to experience fear and anger. Which is common to all mammals. And birds and reptiles. Amphibians and fished, I’m not sure. I can’t really picture an angry salamander.
Most Wisconsin Democrats blame money – Citizen United – for their defeat. They’re not entirely wrong. The best way to win the votes of uninformed voters is a truckload of money spent in ads. The uninformed voters turned into misinformed voters and the richest side wins.
But money is the tree hiding the forest.
With well-informed voters with a strong civic education, campaign money would be totally irrelevant.
Or, more bluntly: no liberal education, no liberals.
The real question is this one: how do you convinced uninformed voters to support such education reform?
To this question, I do not have an answer.