Today, all eyes will be watching to see whether Wisconsin voters will keep labor-bashing right-winger Scott Walker (R) in the governor’s mansion. But win or lose, the real story is the 15 months of people power leading up to this day. The real lesson lies in more than a year of progressive organizing, petitioning, canvassing and campaigning for the cause. The real result is a progressive movement that is deeper and broader than before.
When Walker’s opponents needed 540,208 signatures to trigger the recall election, Wisconsin’s progressives responded by collecting more than a million. They filled 152,000 pages — weighty evidence of the power of a group of people determined to right a wrong.
And the effects have rippled outward. The sight of 70,000 protesters — teachers, firefighters, nurses, students, parents with children – occupying the Wisconsin State Capitol in February 2011 ignited activists around the country. Just as the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt motivated people around the world, including in Wisconsin, the occupation of the Madison statehouse helped inspire the occupation of Wall Street a few months later.
Let me state the obvious: I want the recall to succeed. A victory for Democrat Tom Barrett would not only create an opportunity to roll back Walker’s worst anti-labor, budget-slashing measures, but would also send a clear message to those who are masquerading as deficit hawks around the country: We’ve had it with starve-the-beast politics. We’re done with leaders whose idea of austerity is to cut education, health care and vital public services in order to give more tax breaks to their millionaire friends.
Walker’s GOP legislature, like so many Republican statehouses around the country, has pursued a “divide and conquer” strategy, as Walker himself admitted to a billionaire donor. His legislative efforts, backed up by the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and the extremist, corporate-funded group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are meant to cripple labor unions and disenfranchise poor and minority voters.
Make no mistake — Walker knows his recall has the potential to be a resounding progressive victory. That’s why he’s raised $31 million to stay in office, compared with $4 million raised by his opponent. Two-thirds of Walker’s money has come from outside Wisconsin, and his donor list reads like a list of Who’s Who of America’s Billionaires. Sheldon Adelson — Gingrich’s Daddy Warbucks — and Amway founder Richard DeVos have each given Walker $250,000. And remember the “Swift boat” ads against Kerry? Houston home builder Bob Perry, who backed that smear campaign, wrote Walker checks totaling $500,000. As the recall fight comes to an end, this record amount of money from ultraconservative outsiders has kept Walker alive.
Money in politics is nothing new. In 1816, Thomas Jefferson lamented that corporations that “challenge our government to a trial of strength” were undermining the will of the people. But the battle lines have radically shifted. Ever since the Citizens United ruling welcomed unrestricted corporate money into our elections, the interests of the 99 percent have been badly outmatched by anonymously sourced dollars.
Indeed, we are witnessing the first major battle between astronomical numbers of people and astronomical amounts of money.
As I write this, Walker leads in the polls, and if progressive turnout is merely ordinary, he will likely win. On the other hand, if we see the same groundswell today as on the days that led to this one, Walker can be defeated. Yet, big as this election is, it is only the first test of the progressive response to an electoral landscape overrun with money from corporations and wealthy individuals.
By attacking labor unions, flooding Wisconsin with outside cash and trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him, Walker has taken aim at more than a single campaign cycle or a series of policies; his real targets are the pillars of American progressivism itself. With the Romney campaign gearing up, and super PACs taking to the national airwaves, we face an unprecedented, well-funded assault on our basic values.
But progressives aren’t backing down. They’re just getting started.
So when the results come in, reflect on the vast organizing effort that brought Wisconsin to this moment — and imagine where it still has the potential to go. Elections are over in a matter of hours, but movements are made of weeks, months and years. The Declaration of Sentiments was issued at Seneca Falls in 1848, yet women did not gain the right to vote until seven decades later. The Civil War ended with a Union victory in 1865, yet the Voting Rights Act was not passed until a century later. Auto workers held the historic Flint sit-down strike in 1936-37, yet the fight for a fair, unionized workforce persists 75 years later.
And in the last 15 months, Wisconsin’s progressives have shown us that the battle against bankrolled austerity can be bravely waged by an army of dedicated people committed to protecting working families. They’ve reminded us that good organizing is our only chance to withstand the blitzkrieg of corporate funded advertising — and better yet, leave a lasting mark. Their movement, with thousands of new Wisconsin activists mobilized, energized and educated, can be permanent — and it can keep growing.
Wisconsin's cuts to state aid for K-12 education since the start of the recession is the 7th largest in the country, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The report from the center, which calls itself "fiscally conservative but socially liberal," calculates that Wisconsin cut its state aid to K-12 public schools by 15.3% since 2008, a reduction that out-paced the cuts made by all but six other states during that time.
When measured in dollar amounts rather than percentages, Wisconsin's cuts to state aid since...
Erin Richards | JS Online 14 Sep 2013 Hits:364 Wisconsin
“The Fight for Voting Rights, 50 Years Later” (editorial, Aug. 28) correctly states that the voter suppression measures taken in states across the country make clear “the need for comprehensive and lasting protection of voting rights.”
While it is important to reform the Voting Rights Act, the best way to ensure full protection of our voting rights is to include a guaranteed right to vote in our Constitution.
Contrary to popular belief, although the Constitution prohibits discrimination in voting based on race, gender and age, it does not explicitly...
Mark Pocan | The New York Times 12 Sep 2013 Hits:409 Wisconsin
There's one way to unite conservative Republican Sean Duffy and liberal Democrat Mark Pocan.
In separate interviews Wednesday, the two congressmen from Wisconsin both expressed intense skepticism about granting President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against the Syria government.
"I am leaning strongly no," Duffy said when asked how he might vote. "But I am going to a security briefing on Monday when I get in (to Washington, D.C.), so I'll keep an open mind. But from where my constituents are at, I'm strongly no."
Pocan said he hasn't been...
Bill Glauber | JSOnline 05 Sep 2013 Hits:366 Wisconsin
The ongoing protests in Wisconsin's Capitol turned violent Monday when police tackled and forcefully restrained a demonstrator while carrying out what has become a daily round of arrests in the rotunda.
A video of the incident shows several Capitol Police officers talking very briefly to protester Damon Terrell before they aggressively take him down. Terrell is a regular protester at the so-called "Solidarity Singalong." Police have engaged in a crackdown on progressive protesters in the building since last month, when they began to enforce a requirement for large groups to receive permits for...
Ryan Rainy | Huffington Post 26 Aug 2013 Hits:516 Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI - A coalition of anti-war groups held a rally against U.S. intervention in Syria June 21. Over a dozen activists chanted, "Money for jobs, not for war!" at the corner of Humboldt and Locust Street in Riverwest. They received support in the form of honks and peace signs from drivers of passing cars.
The rally was followed by a teach-in on the Syrian conflict, relating it to the recent U.S. intervention in Libya and other U.S. wars and occupations. A homeless veteran joined the teach-in in the park and...
Fight Back! News.org 15 Aug 2013 Hits:381 Wisconsin
If you support Wisconsin’s outstanding public schools, Milwaukee might be the place to be on Saturday, Sept. 21, for the second “Public Education is A Civil Right March and Rally.” Or just maybe, your community might want to plan its own event.
Either way, now is the time to stand up for the public schools and public school children in every corner of Wisconsin.
Organizers of the Milwaukee event are looking for support, but they are also more than willing to lend a hand to event to others around the state. Contacts...
Tom Beebee | Institue for Wisconsin's Future 10 Aug 2013 Hits:497 Wisconsin
MADISON – Concerned Wisconsinites packed halls in Milwaukee and Madison this week to testify against Governor Walker’s regressive 2013-15 biennial budget proposal. Over the course of three hours, residents spoke out during public hearings hosted by Democratic members of the state Joint Finance Committee in opposition to key elements of Walker’s budget proposal, including the proposed expansion of school vouchers, the politically motivated rejection of federal Medicaid dollars, and Walker’s anti-middle class tax plan.
At the hearing held Tuesday in Madison, Edgewood College Student and United Wisconsin member Zach Madden testified...
United Wisconsin | Press Release 27 Apr 2013 Hits:1652 Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Lawmakers from the Joint Finance Committee are holding a public hearing in Greendale Thursday, April 4th to discuss Gov. Walker’s proposed budget and to get feedback on a wide range of issues from taxes, residency rules, BadgerCare, education and mass transit.
Before the hearing began, nearly 50 people held a rally outside the Greendale High School auditorium. Those individuals are asking the state Legislature to change the budget to accept federal funding to expand the state’s healthcare program for the poor and disabled.
Governor Walker rejected billions of dollars...
Angelica Duria | Fox6Now 09 Apr 2013 Hits:617 Wisconsin
Television spending in this year’s race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court topped $1.1 million, with nearly 70 percent of spending coming from conservative interest groups, according to estimates released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, who is part of the Court’s conservative wing, defeated Marquette law professor Ed Fallone in the April 2 election, maintaining the Court’s 4-3 conservative majority.
Television spending for this year’s Supreme Court race was lower than in recent years, where contentious races put Wisconsin fifth...
Brennan Center for Justice 04 Apr 2013 Hits:807 Wisconsin
As parents of children with special needs, it is critical to explain the facts behind Senate Bill 486 and Assembly Bill 110, which would allow students with disabilities to attend a public school outside their district or a private school with a taxpayer subsidy. These bills will erode the rights and protections for children with special needs that have been fought for by the people in Wisconsin. There are countless reasons that there is not one group that advocates for individuals with disabilities...
Jenny Stonemeier, Jenni Hofschulte, Adam Stonemeier, Jasmine Alinder, Anna Moffit and Terri Hart-Ell | JS Online 16 Jan 2013 Hits:587 Wisconsin
One Percent Rubs Affluence in Face of Wisconsin's Middle Class and Working Poor
This Monday, November 5th the doors will open at 7:30 for the Milwaukee Victory Rally with “Paul and the GOP” at Sterling Aviation on South Howell at Mitchell Field. The event will begin at 9:30. These are the folks who are the “job creators”, the ones whose “Pathway to Prosperity” for the 1% requires the “pathway to Austerity” for the 99%. It is unbelievable that they can say that they understand the middle...
Keith Roberts | Uppity Wisconsin 06 Nov 2012 Hits:1045 Wisconsin
On Oct. 25, Oshkosh Corp. announced that 450 employees will find themselves without jobs in January. While the national debate rages over economic recovery and job production, hundreds of Wisconsin families are left in uncertainty, with unemployment and hardship waiting to greet them in the new year.
Oshkosh Corp. has been a stable employer for longer than most of us can remember. What began as the Wisconsin Auto Duplex Co. in 1917, today Oshkosh Corp. sells and services products in more than 130 countries. ...
Mike Helbick | JS Online 02 Nov 2012 Hits:830 Wisconsin
Update: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said Friday that protesters have the right to march on State Street and refuse to pay for police services the Police Department recommends, though they could encounter inconveniences, such as traffic from buses.
Madison police have begun charging groups to march down State Street, sparking discord with the Madison Area Peace Coalition and leaving organizers of the 42nd annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival fuming.
Representatives of both groups say they will likely march without a permit this weekend...
Sandy Cullen | Wisconsin State Journal 06 Oct 2012 Hits:620 Wisconsin
What a time it is to be living in Wisconsin and to be engaged in politics. The Milwaukee County chapter of Progressive Democrats of America celebrated its one-year anniversary recently by attending and representing PDA at Fighting Bob Fest. It was just a year ago – when I had the pleasure to sit down and meet with Conor Boylan, Tim Carpenter, Jim Carpenter (my PDAMC Co-Chair), Thom Hartmann and others – that the seeds were planted to form our PDA chapter in Milwaukee County. Since then we...
Robert Hansen | MilwaukeeDems.org 01 Oct 2012 Hits:584 Wisconsin
WASHINGTON -- The Democrat hoping to defeat Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in his other race is alarmed by a matter close to the congressman's heart: his obsession with Ayn Rand.
"It's a bit disturbing that somebody in such a position could be so heavily influenced by what was obviously really bad fiction," Rob Zerban, the Wisconsin Democrat vying for Ryan's House seat, told The Huffington Post. Wisconsin election law allows Ryan to run concurrently for vice president and his current seat in Congress.
Jennifer Bendery | Huffington Post 27 Sep 2012 Hits:1135 Wisconsin
Madison - Two Wisconsin state agencies have failed to follow federal law and their own policies in issuing economic development grants, the U.S. government said in a strongly worded letter sent to Gov. Scott Walker's administration.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Aug. 12 letter ordered Walker's administration to improve the distribution of economic development money.
Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the agency for the most part agrees with the conclusions and the corrective ...
AP/JSOnline 27 Sep 2012 Hits:704 Wisconsin
A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers, ruling the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The action comes after a lawsuit brought by unions for Madison teachers Milwaukee city employees. A Walker spokesman said they will appeal. Stay tuned.
Common Dreams Staff 14 Sep 2012 Hits:438 Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is declaring September 17 as “Read the Constitution Day.”
But he should read it himself, both the U.S. Constitution (with special emphasis on the First Amendment) and the Wisconsin State Constitution, since he has been violating the spirit of the first and the letter of the second.
He closed the capitol down during the protests in February and March of 2011.
He had people arrested (including me) for merely holding signs or taking pictures in the State Assembly gallery last fall.
And over the last couple...
Matthew Rothschild | The Progressive 14 Sep 2012 Hits:1031 Wisconsin
It’s nearing sunset on Aug. 27 and a festive atmosphere is evolving at the intersection of 7th and Ring Street in Milwaukee's central city area. People are arriving in cars, waving hello and exchanging greetings through their windows. Soon more than two dozen vehicles and 80 people are gathered in the normally quiet area, chatting in the cerulean glow of a perfect late-summer evening. Laughter hums in the air with the mosquitoes.
But this is a serious event, coordinated by an emerging group of ...
Louis Weisberg | Wisconsin Gazette 14 Sep 2012 Hits:688 Wisconsin
De Pere, Wis. (WFRV) - A group of protesters were also in De Pere outside of Paul Ryan's town hall meeting Wednesday.
The rally drew people from across the state to take aim at both Ryan and his running mate Mitt Romney.
The protesters spoke out about Medicare, education cuts and Ryan and Romney's record on women's rights
"If you want someone that's for women, and for their rights, and against violence against women, then Romney is not on your side" Marlo Harmon from Kenosha said.
View video and...
Jim McShea | We Are Green Bay.com 14 Sep 2012 Hits:1185 Wisconsin
Representative Paul D. Ryan at a campaign event on Wednesday in De Pere, Wis., where he emphasized his local roots. Both parties see the state’s 10 electoral votes as increasingly in play this fall.
Paul D. Ryan is running for the second-highest office in the land, but a voter might have confused him for a state candidate here on Wednesday, so frequent were his Wisconsin references as he sought to maximize his native appeal.
He mentioned a local purveyor of “this really great jelly,” mentioned that...
Trip Gabriel and Jeff Zeleny | The New York Times 13 Sep 2012 Hits:564 Wisconsin
Sign the PETITION!
November is coming up quickly. And with that come the political ads, yard signs, and phone banks.
But for you, and Wisconsin’s 1st District,
this election cycle will be missing…
Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General is fighting to get vote-suppressing laws in place for the November election, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reinstate the voter ID law that has been…
When Dave Schumacher, 51 years old, lost his job in 2009 in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, he wasn’t alone. Schumacher drove trucks for a…
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is now running for vice president, after presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney announced him as his pick on Saturday morning. But Ryan is technically…
After the announcement that Republican Mitt Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican officials throughout the state lauded the choice,…
There were surprise moves at Milwaukee County Board today. We had hoped for 12 of 18 votes, if we were lucky. We just didn't know if we really had the…
Although Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived his June 5 recall election, Democrats won control of the senate when John Lehman (D) prevailed over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard …
Republican governors like Scott Walker have vowed to violate federal law if healthcare is upheld by the Supreme Court, by refusing to take action as is the law.…
After a 16-month long fight, an astonishing $63.5 million spent, and a people's uprising that attracted international attention and laid the groundwork for a movement that will last…
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
From the Capital Times (2011):
“These days, a lot of it is health-related. ALEC, a strong believer in state's rights, federalism, and the free-market, is fighting federal health care reform tooth and nail. (It also opposes various state efforts to crack down on the health insurance industry and expand coverage.) Since 2005, 38 states have passed legislation crafted by its Health and Human Services Task Force, according to the ALEC guide. Wisconsin promises to soon be one of the star performers. 'There have been boilerplate bills that have similar characteristics to what has been passed here in Wisconsin,' Fitzgerald says. In December, he says, he and 20 to 30 other Wisconsin GOP lawmakers attended ALEC's national meeting Washington D.C. (emphasis added), where a key topic of study and conversation was federal health care reform. The 'State Legislators' Guide to Repealing Obamacare' was handed out at this meeting, and its model legislation discussed. 'A good example of that is a bill Joe Leibham is working on right now,' Fitzgerald says. "Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, and Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, introduced the bill Fitzgerald is talking about on Thursday. The 'Health Care Freedom Amendment' would change the Wisconsin constitution to prohibit the government from forcing anyone to participate in any public or private health care or insurance program. The amendment is meant to block the implementation of federal health
Information from Sourcewatch: