Democrats have two semi-plausible excuses for what happened in Wisconsin: the Republicans' enormous money advantage and the sense among many voters that the election should not have been called in the first place. Dismissing Walker's win for these or other reasons, as many progressives are inclined to, is ridiculous. It's also dumb, as it sweetens the GOP victory. The best outcome for Republicans is that Democrats learn nothing from this defeat and stay on their present course--just as they did after Scott Brown, just as they did after the 2010 mid-terms.
Before I get to that, let me mention a category of analysis deserving special recognition: articles calling the defeat a victory, actually. Katrina vanden Heuvel floated this concept even before the votes were in.
On Tuesday, all eyes will be watching to see whether Wisconsin voters will keep labor-bashing right-winger Scott Walker (R) in the governor's mansion. But win or lose, the real story is the 15 months of people power leading up to this day. The real lesson lies in more than a year of progressive organizing, petitioning, canvassing and campaigning for the cause. The real result is a progressive movement that is deeper and broader than before.
Something to build on, said the headline. Oh definitely. Winning isn't the point. Fighting the righteous fight is the point. Organize, petition, canvas, campaign--and lose. Think how strong the foundations for a Democratic revival will be if the party just keeps this up. I look forward to "President Romney Is A Good Thing for Democrats". I mean, that would really give them something to build on.