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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

What I Admire About Liberals

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Suffice it to say that I’ve documented at great length all of the things I don’t admire about liberals, including their penchant for being wrong about so many things.

But this is a moment not to bury, but to praise the Caesars of the Left.

It was only five months ago that the left in Wisconsin suffered a crushing defeat when Scott Walker was so decisively reaffirmed. As Walter Russell Mead noted the day after, “The left picked this fight, on the issue and in the place of its choosing… And it failed.” This on the heels of a series of defeats, each one more potentially demoralizing than the last: the 2010 debacle that saw Democrats lose not merely the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat, but also two congressional seats and control of both houses of the state legislature; followed by the failure to stop Act 10; the defeat of Joanne Kloppenburg in the supreme court election, and the failure to wrest control of the state senate in the recall elections.

But, hand it to them:  they never gave up. They are a tenacious and a resilient lot.

The corollary of “by any means necessary,” is “never, ever give up.” (See my “Rules for Wisconsin Radicals.”) And conservatives, who now find themselves in the slough of despair, should learn from them, at least in this one respect.

After the McGovern blowout of 1972, Democrats were able to rebound in 1974 and ultimately won back the White House four years later. After the years in the Reagan wilderness (for them) and the demoralizing defeat of Michael Dukakis in 1988 (an election they felt entitled to win), they were able to come back in 1992 with Bill Clinton. After the shellacking of 1994, the party rebounded to re-elect him in 1996. After the gut-wrenching defeats of 2000, 2002, and 2004 – and despite the many political obituaries written on both ends of the political spectrum – the left was able to recover triumphantly in 2006 and 2008.

You know the rest.

Conservatives are prone to withdrawing back to their lives after elections and the nature of this year’s defeat – unexpected and fraught with consequence – magnifies that tendency. Some conservatives, who have labored in the trenches the last few years, might be tempted to simply give up.

In time, the sting will fade, but in the meantime, it is worth reminding ourselves:

Defeats, like victories, are never permanent. Just ask a Liberal. 


NOTE to Cheeseheads:

I think it is also important to point out that despite last week's defeat, the entire conservative infrastructure in Wisconsin is intact: the GOP controls five of the state's eight congressional seats; both houses of the legislature; as well as the governor's office. Paul Ryan is still in office, as is Ron Johnson. Compare that to the Dems, post-2010. They had nada. Still have nada.

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