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April 04, 2011 10:41 PM UTC

Remember This Day When the 2012 Election Heats Up

  • by: Colorado Pols

Massive civil rights rallies have been planned for today across the country (Denver’s rally is at 5:30 at City Park) to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As The New York Times reports:

Labor unions and civil rights groups, joined by many other liberal organizations, are holding hundreds of rallies and teach-ins nationwide on Monday to defend collective bargaining and to tie it to the cause that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was fighting for in the days before his death exactly 43 years ago. The sponsors of the “We Are One” rallies being held in 50 states repeatedly note that when Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, he was planning to march with 1,300 striking sanitation workers.

“In some ways the challenges we face on April 4, 2011, are very similar to those Dr. King faced in 1968,” Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Monday in a telephone news conference. “We’re suffering from grave economic challenges here at home.”

The rallies and 175 teach-ins have been organized in large part to protest the Republican-led efforts in Wisconsin and Ohio to curb collective bargaining for public employees. In some ways, the day of rallies aim to build on the union protests in those two states and to warn labor’s adversaries in state capitals and Washington that unions remain a force to contend with in politics and that unions have many supporters.

Organizers of the rallies also said they wanted to draw attention to federal and state budget cuts that they said were hurting the most vulnerable Americans.

When the 2012 elections heat up next summer, we may be looking back at this day as a tipping point in gains by Democrats at the ballot box. The over-reaching and completely unnecessary moves by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans around the country awakened a slumbering group of progressives that might not otherwise have been as enthused about 2012. Walker’s efforts to take away collective bargaining rights prompted unprecedented demonstrations locally and created a firestorm that swept across the country.

If this sounds familiar, it should…but with a major caveat. It was early in 2009 when the “Tea Party” first began to emerge, and of course, they went on to play a significant role in the 2010 elections. The Tea Party’s emergence was somewhat related to Democratic efforts to reform health care, but by no means was their anger singularly focused in any one direction. The Tea Party and their supporters were angry about a lot of things, but mostly they were just…angry. They were a mob, being financed by outside efforts, looking for a direction in which to march. You can argue that the Tea Party was formed because of legitimate gripes with government, but you’d by lying if you didn’t say that their efforts were largely uninformed (“Keep Government Out of My Medicare” being just one famous example of this).

In contrast, the rallies scheduled for today have a very clear civil rights focus after Gov. Walker’s attempts at union busting in Wisconsin. This is certainly a progressive cause, but we’re talking about people’s livelihoods here. This isn’t just a symbolic opposition to a general set of beliefs — this is a very real opposition to a very real, and very specific, attack. Why Republicans decided to pick this fight is a mystery to us, but perhaps they just misinterpreted seeing a larger mandate in the 2010 elections — a mandate that quite clearly did not exist, as poll after poll shows most Americans oppose what happened in Wisconsin.

But back to the point at hand: We’ve got a feeling that tonight’s rallies will be looked back upon as another major turning point in American elections. While moderate Republicans fret over angering the Tea Party, an otherwise bored and somewhat disillusioned progressive left suddenly has solidified around a common cause. If that energy continues into 2012 (and if Republicans continue their overreaching attacks), the electoral momentum will undoubtedly rest with Democrats.

April 4, 2011. Remember it. Come November 6, 2012, many politicians may never forget.


15 thoughts on “Remember This Day When the 2012 Election Heats Up

  1. Why Republicans decided to pick this fight is a mystery to us

    Maybe because they thought that they would never again have as many State Governorships, State Houses, and Federal House at the same time and if they were ever going to get away with it, now would be that time.

    They were wrong but I am glad that the sleeping giant has been awakened!

    1. that they would get a reaction strong enough to remain in the news week after week.  They probably thought the protests would be the usual 1 or 2 K one weekend and nobody would pay much attention. Kind of like how Cheney and friends thought they could just topple Saddam slide their boy Chalabi into his place, not much fuss, pretty soon it would just be last weeks news story and everything would just go on as usual. Sometimes unbridled arrogance and confidence catches up with these people. Let’s hope this another one of those times.  

      1. The Sleeping Giant had been asleep for so long that they, apparantly, didn’t realize what a giant it really was!  

        It might be tough but the giant needs to stay awake through November of 2012.  If the arrogance continues that may not be as hard as it sounds and most of the country will have had their fill of teapartiers by November 2012.

    2. Republicans were living on the “permanent” Republican majority until it got derailed in 2006-2008.  When they realized it wasn’t so permanent, they executed a masterful strategy leading up to 2010 – block governmental action to prolong the economic crisis if they could, and blame everything on the Democrats knowing that the public would already be impatient to get back to work and out of the recession.  In the meantime, someone(s) recreated the Christian Coalition movement but with a more Libertarian bent and abducted the name “Tea Party” from some minor activist rally.  The results gave them the position they hold today.

      The Republicans now have two generations of Frankenstein’s Monster to appease, and not nearly enough others.  The future of the GOP hinges on suppressing the Democratic Party vote and overwhelming the Dems on public opinion messaging.  Their interests are in breaking the backs of as many Democratic power groups as possible while ensuring that Citizens United remains the law of the land.

      Even if the extreme positions Republicans are taking this year cause them to lose some seats in the 2012 election – even if Obama gets re-elected – so long as Republicans can hold on to an obstructing position they can eventually consolidate and gain ground because of this year’s actions.  They’ll never have a better opportunity; the economy will recover by 2016; if Democrats retain their power bases and are in control of the WH through that time, the current Republican Party isn’t likely to regain control for many years.

      1. keep the Republicans from doing too much election fraud.  It appears that they are arrogant enough to try to get away with it in lots of places.

        Something to keep track of:

        Some history on labor union busting:

        I believe it was in 2007 or 2008 that the Kansas GOP State President, or whatever the title is, had a blurb on his website bragging about how well their voter caging efforts had worked.  He apparently didn’t think that there would be blow-back and when there was, the blurb disappeared.  

        Thankfully we have a Secretary of Labor who is VERY pro Labor and well aware of the GOP antics. That should help at this particular time.  The last Labor Secretary was extremely anti-labor and didn’t like to be around anyone who had a job that required taking a shower at the end of the day.


      2. “In the meantime, someone(s) recreated the Christian Coalition movement but with a more Libertarian bent and abducted the name “Tea Party” from some minor activist rally.”

        You guys are really cracking me up today!

  2. No, it won’t work this time either. It will flop as miserably as the Coffee Party did. You just can’t bring yourselves to admit that the Tea Party is a natural and completely legitimate reaction to the harm done by a progressive-Democrat President and congress. As opposed to, say, people who already live better than everyone else whining for more money from taxpayers.

    1. On the “better than everyone else” remark, please.

      – Union workers, public and private sector.

      – People receiving Medicaid and Medicare.

      – Children in school.


      I’d also like to know a) where they said the Tea Party movement was not legitimate (funded outside, but legitimate in the partiers’ minds) and b) why when it’s Democrats it’s inherently unnatural to organize.

      Finally, we haven’t had a “progressive Democrat President” in a long, long time. Any theories on why the Tea Party took so long to form?

      1. who get Democrats elected who will give them cushy benefits and retirement programs that nobody else gets.

        a) Dems have done nothing but claim that the Tea Party is an astroturf movement ginned up by insurance execs, bankers, Koch brothers, etc., since its inception.

        b) Of course it’s natural for Dems to organize. And they are free to have their little pity party; I’m just saying that the broader public will not support it and it will fall apart. The leaders of the ill-fated Coffee Party are cracking up over who gets what little power they have left.

        I think you answered your own question on that last one.

        1. (a) The TEA Party movement is being led around like Pavlov’s dogs, and has since about a month after the movement started.  Dick Armey, Sarah Palin, the Koch Bros., and others have absconded with it in an attempt to revitalize voter interest in the GOP and you’ve fallen for it (if you even disagree with that goal in the first place…).

          It’s not that the movement isn’t valid in its own right, it’s just that it’s been hijacked and y’all haven’t figured it out yet.  It has been hijacked since the health care reform debate when “TEA Party” people were bussed around at the expense of people like the Koch brothers, and it’s remained hijacked ever since then.

          (b) Who cares about the Coffee Party?

          As to your main point, such as it is, you lost before you started on that one, since we’ve already gone over the fact that state employee compensation (benefits and all) falls short of private workers’ compensation for the same type of employee.  If those benefits are different from yours or mine, they’re still not getting better compensation.

          1. Why would we turn away people who agree with us? And why would we turn down money from people who want to further our goals? I don’t know where this notion of “hijacking” comes from.

            Nobody cares about the Coffee Party. That’s my point. You’re just flat out wrong on that last point. Public sector unions have negotiated extraordinary benefits and pensions which have caused an entitlement problem. Especially in tough economic times when everybody else has to cut back, it is especially insulting to them.

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