Now that the recall is over, can we look forward to some relief from the vitriol that has characterized Wisconsin politics?
Both Gov. Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett have expressed a desire to heal rifts. Let me offer some thoughts on how we might do this. The key? Stop undermining the legitimacy of the electoral process just because you lost.
And lest anyone think I'm picking on the Democrats, I'll respond by saying what parents have said to squabbling siblings for thousands of years: "Knock it off. Both of you. I don't care who started it!"
Let me elaborate.Democrats: You lost the recall because your guy got fewer votes than the other guy. It doesn't matter how much you loathed Walker, or how hard you worked, or that you considered this the most important election since, well, the last election that was the most important ever.
You lost. Nobody expects you to be happy about it. But you get another chance in a few months.
Stop blaming the American Legislative Exchange Council, or Super PACS, or the Koch Brothers, or Citizens United. Stop insisting that the only reason you lost was you were outspent 3-to-1, or 5-to-1, or 10-to-1, or that democracy has ended because billionaires can buy elections.
Arguing that you lost because people were too stupid to see the brilliance of your position is not a good way to get more people to conclude that your position is brilliant.
And by the way, stop comparing Walker to Hitler. It's insulting in so many ways, and it's not clever, and it's not funny. Oh, and that mailer listing the voting activity of our neighbors? Really creepy. Don't do it again.
To Republicans: Stop gloating, and enough with the jokes about how delicious the tears of Democrats are. You'll get your turn in the barrel eventually.
And while we're at it, you need to stop the absurd claims that the only reason Democrats can win elections is vote fraud. I saw a dozen blog posts about buses full of union folks coming from Michigan or Illinois to cast fraudulent votes. Reince Priebus said Republicans have to win an extra 1 or 2 percentage points just to overcome vote fraud.
Not only is this preposterous, it is also enormously damaging to the legitimacy of the process (and it's particularly absurd because, well, you won; where are those claims now?). I know lots of you know someone who knows someone who once saw 10,000 people cast fraudulent votes, most of whom were dead besides. But yelling the same thing over and over doesn't make it true.
Stop saying the only way you can lose is because of fraud. It's a phantom.