This Wisconsin election could teach Democrats how to triumph over GOP culture warriors: columnist
(Photo via Tim Nordin for Eau Claire Area School Board Facebook page)

The results of a school board election in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in which a slate of progressive candidates defeated a well-funded group of right-wing candidates, could prove instructive for Democrats across the country in upcoming races, according to New Republic editor Michael Tomasky.

Tim Nordin and fellow school board incumbents Marquell Johnson and Stephanie Farrar easily won reelection. Nordin, who received a death threat against him, earned more votes than any of the other candidates.

Tomasky writes: "The right-wing slate trotted out all the usual dog-whistles and a fair sprinkling of plain-old human whistles about critical race theory, LGBTQ students, educational equity, and the rest. In the face of all that pressure, the progressives won, Nordin says, by about a collective 10 points."

Ruth Conniff of The Wisconsin Examiner agrees that there was a backlash to the intense politicization of school board races in Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Beloit, where liberals won. Tomasky thinks the Eau Claire results present Democrats with two lessons.

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"One is simply that despite the reflexive assumption I described above, not everyone falls for alarmist right-wing demagoguery," he writes. "A lot of people are decent human beings who think LGBTQ kids should be treated with a little compassion and understanding. Likewise, some number of people and parents clearly think students should learn something about systemic racism in the United States.

"The second lesson involves how progressives talk about these matters. Yes, sometimes, people can sound lecture-y or like they’re reading from some white paper prepared by an educational foundation, using jargon that no normal human being uses or even understands. Attaching these issues to actual human beings is a lot better."

He advises Democrats this fall should focus their message this fall on economics, not culture, inflation not withstanding, and totally avoid any conversation about “defund the police.”