Wednesday, August 17, 2011

5 for 9 - Not Too Shabby!

The people in districts 12 and 22 came through for Wisconsin last night. Good work, folks! We're well on our way.

If it's one thing we've learned so far, it's that sticking together matters. It not only matters on a personal level, but it works wonders in the political process. We can beat back this destruction together. We've walked in the cold gathering signatures, marched in summer parades, canvassed in strange neighborhoods, and spoken with friends and family about these issues. We changed the makeup of the Senate this summer. We've altered Wisconsin politics forever.

We've also learned a lot about the electoral makeup of this state. We know where the pockets of conservatism are. We know the tough candidates out there. We know the lay of the land. We've visited corners of conservative Wisconsin that no liberal has explored for years. Sure, some of it was hostile territory, but we've learned that, for the most part, our neighbors are willing to have a conversation, even if we end up disagreeing with each other at the end of the day.

If you'll pardon my gender-centric tone for a second, we've also grown a pair. Gone are the days that progressives sit back and take heat from our angry conservative friends. We've learned, politically, to take the fight to the enemy. We didn't win every battle this summer, but taking five out of nine is a pretty good start. Recalls are difficult. We know that especially well now. I would argue that the hardships of this process are still going to be a deterrent to all but the utmost adamant parts of the electorate going forward.

Unfortunately for Scott Walker, I think a lot of us are still pretty angry at the way things are headed. I'm not really a fan of selling off my water quality, mortgaging our kids' education, privatizing our prisons, eliminating credit bureaus, and destroying our precious microbreweries. I'm not happy with the way working people have been treated - the repeal of the Earned Income Credit tax deduction will be a punch to the guy for a lot of people who thought Scott Walker didn't raise taxes. And of course, what started it all - the desire to kill organized labor on behalf of organized capital - is reprehensible. This is a fight I'll be engaged in the rest of my life (or until I own a few dozen factories).

While there may be some folks who are tired of recalls, my guess is those folks were already sleeping anyway. Maybe a knock on their door woke them up once and they're still upset about it. Those of us who have been awake and alive through this nonsense will be out on the streets as soon as it's politically feasible. I hope to see you all at the local recall office. I can't wait to hit my neighborhood with a clipboard and a pen. My guess is we'll be in hats and mittens when we do it. So here's my promise: hot cocoa at my house after we're done - everyone's invited! Wisconsin will be ours!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keep Fighting, Wisconsin!

It's been a great ride since this spring. I can't believe that a mere 8 months ago, most of us were sitting around, watching football, and not even thinking about political activism. Yes, many of us were interested in politics. Maybe we read the news every day, and we cared about our local communities. But we weren't on the streets, and we weren't talking about progressive causes, or seeking out candidates for election.

This year, all that has changed.

While we didn't get three Senate seats, we got a lot more than most people will recognize. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Here's what I see today, as a result of our efforts:

  • An energized, fun group of political change agents, connected all over the state.
  • Great future candidates for school boards, city councils, assembly seats, and national offices
  • Two seats in a Senate that actually has one Republican willing to compromise (we might actually get some balance now)
  • Competitive races in previously unopposed Republican districts
I've had a great deal of fun, and gained a great deal of confidence in our ability to move the dial to the left this year. The elected officials in our state with Ds behind their names are not wishy-washy, Blue Dogs. They're serious about fighting for us - we've seen it time and time again as they hold all night sessions, escape to filibuster, and completely alter their lives to hit the trail and talk to us.

At the same time it's become clearer to me now that progressive values don't start and stop at the ballot box. We make our communities what we want them to be. Eau Claire is a perfect example of a community that has built itself up as a model for happy, small-town life. We've got artists, lawyers, doctors, farmers, and business owners all coming together to make this place better. The council and county board here change as we change - they follow, and we lead. Our city isn't perfect, but it's definitely a sign of hope.

I've met so many people that are simply committed to making this place better, and I've only grown more optimistic this summer. We've got some great future leaders on our hands.

I'll be looking forward to seeing you all again as we ramp up the recall efforts on Governor Walker. My hope is that we bring even more people into the fold along the way. We need to recognize that we're not alone.

Everyone who requires a paycheck to live is in the same predicament today. Tea Partiers have to suffer along with the rest of us when politicians cut Badgercare, slash school budgets, and raise our taxes in order to pay for corporate tax breaks. They are only our enemy because they have declared it. They are swimming in the same shark-infested waters that we inhabit. Together we can pull out of this mess. Sure, we're not going to convince everyone that carries around a don't-tread-on-me flag. But we can continue to push the state forward if we stick together like this.

We've got two more recall elections to win next week. Let's keep our foot on the gas and win those elections. Holperin and Wirch both need your help. Take the drive to their district and pitch in if you can! Or head down to your local Democratic office and offer to canvass.

Last night was a far cry from perfect. I feel a little like I did after Bush won the election in 2004 - it's unbelievable to me that anyone would vote for a candidate that had done so much damage to our state in so little time. But I'm happy today for a united left in Wisconsin, powerful and noteworthy. If we can keep up this unity, we're going to go very far, my friends. Wisconsin will be ours!