Exit polling Tuesday night showed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg had ousted Rebecca Bradley from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley had been appointed to the seat by Governor Scott Walker back in October after Justice Patrick Crooks had died in office.
Just after midnight Tuesday night, Huffington Post published an article, reporting that Kloppenburg had won.
But later, HuffPo published a new story reporting that Kloppenburg had lost.
It was around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday when I noticed the new article and immediately went back to the first article to see if maybe I had misread it. While the HuffPo link went to a “404 Error,” I found the old article on several sites which scrape content from various news feeds. (Here, here, here, and here.)
HuffPo never admitted to “calling” the election — based on exit polling and early returns — and simply getting it wrong. They implied that they had two completely different stories ready to go and an “editing error” resulted in publishing the wrong one.
“Faith,” we often quoted in my fundamentalist upbringing, “is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” It is the basis for faith-healing and provision from God — “calling things that are not, as though they were;” believing something so strongly, that it happens.
In later years, this concept which had sustained many generations of genuine conscientious adherents, was perverted into a cheap “name it, claim it” religion that preached “prosperity gospel.” It went from being a deeply-held belief system combined with hard toil for basic necessities, to being a superficial effortless divine-lotto for riches.
And not surprisingly, the latter never worked — except for the prosperity preachers who plied it.
As it turns out, simply saying something’s so and it being so, is not the same thing. In real life, the other scripture we often quoted is instructive: “Faith — without works — is dead.”
In the days before the Wisconsin primary, both Bernie and Hillary implored their followers to turn out in large numbers to vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg, as news had broken about the vile and hateful things Walker-appointee Rebecca Bradley had written in her college newspaper back in 1992.
But Kloppenburg lost.
Wisconsin is a bastion of liberalism. Supposedly. And Bernie has launched a revolution of Biblical proportions, the likes of which has never been previously seen by mortal man. Supposedly. And Hillary supporters are way more fired up than the national media will admit. Supposedly.
But Kloppenburg lost.
In terms of “percentage of population,” Wisconsin had the largest total turnout since 1972. It was the largest Republican turnout since 1980.
But Democrats failed to best their 2008 turnout.
President Obama didn’t win on some cheap “name it; claim it” whim. He didn’t win by all of his supporters hyping each other up and telling each other how confident they were that he was going to win. He didn’t ride-in on wings of work-less faith. He didn’t draw record-setting numbers to the primaries and crowds of 100,000 to his rallies by preaching pie-in-the-sky superficial riches effortlessly pried from the hands of evil robber barons.
Saying Bernie is leading a revolution when a comparatively-paltry “army” of 20,000 shows up, doesn’t make it so. Saying Democrats are going to win the general election no matter what, doesn’t make it so. Ignoring Kloppenburg’s loss won’t make it go away. Explaining away consistently-lower-than-2008 turnout in the primaries won’t make it meaningless.
While we still have time, we need to roll up our sleeves and make sure our like-minded friends and family members are registered to vote; make sure they plan to vote; make sure they know where their precincts are; make sure they have a way to the polls. We can’t wait until November and whine about roadblocks. The rules are knowable now — if we need ID cards, we need to get ID cards; if we can’t vote on campus, we need to plan for back-home absentee ballots; if a marriage or divorce has changed a name, we need to fix that now. If there’s been an address change, fix it now.
And we need to remember why we’re Democrats and proudly proclaim our principles: We love all; accept all. We believe in equality for all; justice for all; fairness for all. We give voice to the voiceless and stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves.
We need to quit being sheepish and ashamed of the loftiness of our beliefs and the nobleness of our cause. We need to quit curbing our enthusiasm and muting our excitement over our principles, out of fear of being ridiculed. We need to quit being afraid of getting made fun of for expressing love and having hearts that bleed for our fellow human beings and we need to quit buying into today’s twisted norms that dictate anger and hate are the only two emotions we can publicly express without people feeling all icky.
When the votes are counted this November, there won’t be any late-night opportunities to rewrite the story. We won’t have the luxury of replacing the old story with a new story and backdating it.
The only story that’s going to count, is being written now.