Why Liberals Lose Even When They Win

Posted October 16th, 2012 @ 8:08 AM by

Because liberals internalize conservative criticism and do what their conservative opponents want them to do.

Bruce Murphy does a perfect job of summarizing how it works:

When I worked at the paper, it was common to get complaints from liberals about stories they didn’t like, but it was nothing like the response if conservatives didn’t like a story. You would get more and angrier email, often egged on by conservative talker Charlie Sykes. You can get some feel for that dynamic if you read the comments at jsonline (though I don’t recommend it to anyone). The Journal Sentinel clearly thinks it is viewed as a liberal paper, but the irony is that much of that reputation has come courtesy of Sykes, an employee of its broadcast company. Yet, as a result, it is now allowing a conservative think tank to subsidize its columnist and advertising his abilities to anger liberals. Not even the old Milwaukee Sentinel would have ever countenanced such an arrangement.

Look, compromise can be a good thing and sometimes criticism can help make a bill or ordinance or idea stronger after the criticism is addressed. But far too many liberal elected officials fall for conservative concern trolling or conservative heckling. The right-wing radio listeners who flood legislators phone lines are not persuadable and they are coming after liberal elected officials regardless of what the legislators do. If the liberal legislators actually do something, at least the elected officials will have something positive to run on when the next election comes around.

A Case Study: Dave Cieslewicz

Maybe I should have realized this during his last term as Mayor (I voted for Paul Soglin), but Dave Cieslewicz is apparently part of the hand-wringing surrender wing of the Democratic party. Look at how he has internalized conservative criticisms about liberal elitists:

My fellow liberals and I make this same mistake over and over again. We like to think that if everyone was as smart as we are, then we’d all be lefties and all God’s children would live in peace and harmony. Too many of us seem to think that the only reason people are conservative is that they’re too dumb to understand what we know.

So, the news that my fellow liberals are at it again is not welcome. One Wisconsin Now has just launched Our Dumb Senator, a website dedicated to all of the allegedly stupid things that Wisconsin’s junior U.S. Senator Ron Johnson says.

But routinely labeling those who disagree with us as dumb plays into the stereotype of elitist liberals. We should knock it off because it’s wrong, because it’s hurting our cause and because it’s just, well, dumb.

1. Who is this “we” that Dave Cieslewicz speaks of? He certainly doesn’t speak for me!

2. Last time I’ve checked, there’s no general push to call conservatives stupid. Do certain people get frustrated? Most certainly, but general criticism of people on the other side is common to all sides.

3. If you read the whole article, you’ll note that Dave Cieslewicz doesn’t actually cite any statistics or general patterns or anything, just a few anecdotal stories about liberals being elitists. It’s just a bit of conservative propaganda that seems to have gotten into his brain.

4. As far as the attack on Senator Ron Johnson goes, I’d like to point out that there’s a big difference between attacks on people generally and attacks on politicians. For whatever reason, a lot of electoral politics is about personality and not policy (I don’t really like this, but so it goes). The reason I’d vote against Ron Johnson is because I think his policies are bad, I don’t know if he’s intelligent or not, nor do I really care. But other people care about intelligence, so we get comments on that. The attack isn’t directed at conservatives generally, just at one specific elected official.

It’s really similar to the “liberal elites” line that conservatives push. You know, like the “liberal elites” are going to make you eat broccoli, and tell you how to live your life. And we can tell that the “liberal elites” line is effective because Dave Cieslewicz buys into it despite the fact that he has only the thinnest anecdotal evidence. I mean, it’s not like his social circle is the beginning and end of liberalism.

5. Also, the fact that Mr. Cieslewicz is making the “don’t be an elitist argument” is especially hilarious considering two of the big fights during his time as Mayor of Madison were over him raising bus fares and trying to give a luxury hotel a huge TIF subsidy. Gee, who’s being the elitist there? And I’d like to point out that the hotel is going to be built without the TIF subsidy…

What’s the remedy? People on the left need to apply pressure to liberal/progressive/Democratic politicians after the election. It’s not just enough to get a Democrat elected to office. Instead, we have to hold them accountable so that they aren’t just liberal in their hearts, but liberal in their actions. And if we don’t put forward pressure, then they’ll only hear from the conservative voices.

Categories: | Dave Cieslewicz | Madison | Media | Wisconsin

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