In the dramatic Wisconsin recall elections tonight, both sides may try to claim victory. Democrats won because they gained two seats in the State Senate, but Republicans also won because the Democrats appear to have fallen one seat short of obtaining a majority.
I'll try not to sound too much like some of those annoying soccer parents who tell their kids
that it doesn't really matter who wins, and that everyone should be
rewarded just for participating. Of course it matters who wins. But in this case, there might be some other things just as important as figuring out who wins. What might be more important in Wisconsin this year was the huge outburst of political participation by all kinds of people: the activists who flooded the capital and gathered signatures; the unions who mobilized to fight challenges to their ability to organize; and the business interests who supported the new governor. What a wake-up call for a lot of people who learned that elections have consequences. What an experience for so many people who worked hard to make these recall elections happen. I saw some of the veterans of the Madison sit-ins at the Netroots conference earlier this year, and what they seemed to have in common was a new-found energy, enthusiasm, and sense of purpose.
Since this blog is more about process than policy, I'm less focused on the outcome than on how we get there. So my suggestion would be that instead of arguing about which side won, we just celebrate the trials and triumphs of democracy. Unless people want somebody else to make decisions for them, they must commit to a never-ending struggle, and they must continue to participate. Or at least, vote! This is what democracy looked like today in Wisconsin: