Left-wing organizers are trying to generate their own Tea Party in hope of stopping Trump’s agenda. Their efforts will ultimately fail. If you want to know why, look at their failed efforts to derail Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda. There, they rallied thousands, but the overflow of their anger backfired. As you know, Walker was not recalled, his union reforms were implemented and are working, and Trump even won Wisconsin in November.
Progressive Caucus Member Rep. Mark Pocan went on Progressive Talk Radio earlier in February and mentioned he thinks the Left can learn from the protests in Madison, Wisconsin. He suggested the Left can carry forward some of the tactics used in Wisconsin to create a nationwide movement opposing Trump.
So let’s circle back to remember what the Left did in Wisconsin and why it was such a big loss.
Walker Acts Like a Republican, Left Goes Nuts
Walker was elected in 2010 and quickly announced plans to reform collective bargaining reform, cut taxes, defund Planned Parenthood, bring tort reform, and a host of other conservative reforms. The Left organized massive protests, primarily against the union changes. They shipped in protesters from Chicago and across the country. These extremists were able to gather enough petition signatures to initiate a recall of Walker and his allies.
One the main reasons they failed is they used extreme tactics that backfired on their movement. Feeling justified in whatever they did, they even protested Special Olympics ceremonies where Walker was speaking, had doctors give out free sick notes to whoever skipped work for whatever reason (such as engaging in political protests), protested outside legislators’ houses, sent death threats to elected officials, and more.
Attempts at “peaceful protests” couldn’t curtail protesters’ vitriol. During the protests, the Left held anger management workshops to make sure their protesters didn’t get violent. Yet their anger was real and resulted in some violence.
One video in particular of protesters circling state Sen. Glenn Grothman (now a congressman from WI-6) shows them seething while chanting “Peaceful” as a way to calm themselves down. But these “peaceful” workshops and mechanisms didn’t work for everyone. When Fox reporter Mike Tobin was doing a live shot from the crowd, one of the protesters hit him.
I helped organize a counter-rally in February 2011 (the “I Stand with Walker” Rally) and saw the hate firsthand as union protesters surrounded and circled our peaceful demonstrators. When Wisconsin voters saw this ugliness, they ultimately re-elected Walker in the June 2012 recall election by a larger margin than he had been originally elected.
Going Crazy Alienates People
The Wisconsin tactics fell flat because Independents and moderates were disgusted with the extreme and ugly tactics. In the June 2012 recall election, Walker won independents 54-45 percent over his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and nearly three-quarters of voters thought recalls (an extreme tactic) should never or only be used for “official misconduct.” Voters saw how the protesters treated those with whom they disagreed and that pushed more folks to Walker.
Today, we can still see this propensity for violence, as the nation saw with the Berkeley riots and post-inauguration unrest in the nation’s capitol. There were no anger management workshops for the Tea Party in 2009, because they didn’t need to be told to behave. In fact, the Tea Party cleaned up the garbage that the union protesters in Madison left behind.
Progressives are now trying to copy the Wisconsin tactics that failed them. If the Wisconsin results are any indication, these measures will only make Trump stronger as they did for Walker. Some on the Left will undoubtedly overreach and harm their movement. The liberal base will get frustrated as they fail to stop the Trump agenda, and it will make them angrier. At the end of the day, the Left will only have themselves to blame.