This year, all that has changed.
While we didn't get three Senate seats, we got a lot more than most people will recognize. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Here's what I see today, as a result of our efforts:
- An energized, fun group of political change agents, connected all over the state.
- Great future candidates for school boards, city councils, assembly seats, and national offices
- Two seats in a Senate that actually has one Republican willing to compromise (we might actually get some balance now)
- Competitive races in previously unopposed Republican districts
At the same time it's become clearer to me now that progressive values don't start and stop at the ballot box. We make our communities what we want them to be. Eau Claire is a perfect example of a community that has built itself up as a model for happy, small-town life. We've got artists, lawyers, doctors, farmers, and business owners all coming together to make this place better. The council and county board here change as we change - they follow, and we lead. Our city isn't perfect, but it's definitely a sign of hope.
I've met so many people that are simply committed to making this place better, and I've only grown more optimistic this summer. We've got some great future leaders on our hands.
I'll be looking forward to seeing you all again as we ramp up the recall efforts on Governor Walker. My hope is that we bring even more people into the fold along the way. We need to recognize that we're not alone.
Everyone who requires a paycheck to live is in the same predicament today. Tea Partiers have to suffer along with the rest of us when politicians cut Badgercare, slash school budgets, and raise our taxes in order to pay for corporate tax breaks. They are only our enemy because they have declared it. They are swimming in the same shark-infested waters that we inhabit. Together we can pull out of this mess. Sure, we're not going to convince everyone that carries around a don't-tread-on-me flag. But we can continue to push the state forward if we stick together like this.
We've got two more recall elections to win next week. Let's keep our foot on the gas and win those elections. Holperin and Wirch both need your help. Take the drive to their district and pitch in if you can! Or head down to your local Democratic office and offer to canvass.
Last night was a far cry from perfect. I feel a little like I did after Bush won the election in 2004 - it's unbelievable to me that anyone would vote for a candidate that had done so much damage to our state in so little time. But I'm happy today for a united left in Wisconsin, powerful and noteworthy. If we can keep up this unity, we're going to go very far, my friends. Wisconsin will be ours!