Mission accomplished. Genuine revolt and dissent was channeledÂ into the Democratic Party and neutralized.
By calling for a recall instead of a general strike after Walker stripped collective bargaining rights and cut benefits for workers, labor and Democratic leadership in the state diverted and then subverted populist energy, channeling it into an electoral process.
A prime function of the Democratic Party for decades has been to siphon real protest into itself where it then renders it inert. The Democratic Party pretends to be the friend of social movements before trying to co-opt and neutralize them. Peter Camejo explains this eloquently in his 2004 Avocado Declaration. This is exactly what happened in Wisconsin. Rather than pushing for a general strike, Democrats forced the dissent into a recall election which they then lost.
Then, Barrett, an anti-labor centrist, won the Democratic primary by crushing his labor-backed opponent, Kathleen Falk. Finally, Barrett himself was destroyed by Scott Walker, who outspent Barrett 7-1 with corporate money. In other words, first, liberals lost a policy battle, then they failed to strike, then they lost a primary election, then they lost a general election to the most high-profile effective reactionary policy-maker in the country. The conservative beat the moderate who beat the liberal. And had Barrett won, he wouldn’t even have rolled back Walker’s agenda. Somehow, in a no-win electoral situation, Democrats and labor managed to lose as badly as they possibly could.
Peter Camejo, emphasis added
[The Democratic Party acts] a “broker” negotiating and selling influence among broad layers of the people to support the objectives of corporate rule. The Democratic Party’s core group of elected officials is rooted in careerists seeking self-promotion by offering to the corporate rulers their ability to control and deliver mass support. And to the people they offer some concessions, modifications on the platform of the Republican Party. One important value of the Democratic Party to the corporate world is that it makes the Republican Party possible through the maintenance of the stability that is essential for “business as usual.” It does this by preventing a genuine mass opposition from developing. Together the two parties offer one of the best frameworks possible with which to rule a people that otherwise would begin to move society towards the rule of the people (i.e. democracy).
Editorial cartoon sympathetic to the Populists. The Democratic Party pretended to befriend the Populist Party of the 1890’s, diffused its impact, then backstabbed it.