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Let's Learn the Right Lessons From Wisconsin

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Two Democratic state senators in Wisconsin beat back recalls yesterday, by 58 and 54 percent. That means that in the nine recall elections held this month and last, two incumbents were defeated, both of them Republicans.

It was enough for unions to claim a victory, in the sense that the Republicans' margin in the senate is now down to one, and that one senator, moderate Dale Schultz, voted against the union-busting legislation. It is now unlikely that Right to Work and other elements of the corporate right's agenda will pass.

With the first great electoral effort over-the second being the inevitable recall campaign against Governor Scott Walker-we should step back and examine some lessons from the struggle to build a movement.

The uprising here was the awakening that labor movement activists had long hoped for-disproving the modern notion that those who work will not stand up for themselves: Last winter several hundred thousand people rallied in communities across the state.

Saying "Brother" and "Sister" and expressions of solidarity had real meaning. People were exhausted but energized. Community/labor coalitions emerged to build for the future.

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But the recall elections turned out to be an education opportunity lost, in a sea of negative attack ads.