WINGNUTTERY GOT A THUMPIN' LAST NIGHT. WILL ANYONE NOTICE?
You know, they told me that if progressives took to the streets in protest, it would be a futile gesture, because the media (and therefore the public) wouldn't pay any attention. Far better to focus on working to change the system from within. Well, Occupy Wall Street happened, and everyone did pay a lot of attention -- but the attention is increasingly focused on the protesters, their encampments, and their activities, and less on the issues that are motivating their protest. The point of it all is being lost as we focus on whether they have generators or what the hygiene situation is. Increasingly, we're talking about Occupy Wall Street, not about Wall Street.
And then yesterday the people who are working within the system won a rather impressive wave of victories. John Kasich's union-stripping law in Ohio was overwhelming rejected by the voters in a repeal referendum. The personhood amendment in Mississippi lost 59%-41%, after polls showed the contest to be neck-and-neck. Voters in Arizona recalled state Senate president Russell Pearce, author of the state's notorious SB 1070 immigration law. Voters of Maine reinstated same-day registration, which had been the law for decades until wingnut governor Paul LePage led an effort to repeal it. Oh, and Republicans failed to win a majority in the Virginia state Senate, defying predictions, while the Iowa state Senate stayed in Democratic hands, thwarting efforts by Iowa Republicans to push through a full GOP agenda, including the banning of gay marriage.
And yet I go to the New York Times Politics home page, and what's the lead story? Herman Cain. (In fact, the two lead stories are about Cain.) I go to Talking Points Memo -- what's the lead? Cain.* Memeorandum? Cain. Politico? Cain and the rest of the GOP field as they get ready for the 7,836th of their 34,325 scheduled debates. Mark Halperin? Ditto.
So they're basically ignoring a big progressive thumpin' at the polls the way they routinely ignore, or used to ignore, lefty political protest. And actually, there's a common thread. Lefties protest the war? Downplay it. Lefties occupy public spaces? Downplay the issues, play up the conditions. Lefties win elections and referendums? Look, there's a gaffe from Herman Cain's campaign manager! Whenever lefties actually focus on an issue and win support from a broad swath of the general public, it's a non-story.
Some of that is the lack of an effective lefty noise machine. Some of that is the disconnect between different parts of the progressive universe. Some of it is the fact that stuff is happening at the occupations that is inevitably distracting.
And, yeah, not every contest yesterday went our way. Mississippi voters also toughened voter ID laws. Ohio voters rejected the health care mandate that's a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act (though, of course, opposition to mandates has never been an exclusively conservative cause).
But no wave election is ever universal -- some Democrats win in Republican waves and vice versa. Yesterday was a big deal. Does anyone care?
*UPDATE, 10:45 A.M.: TPM now leads with Ohio, not Cain. Good.