Occupy the GOP: Art for Gov May 8

Endorsements for candidates in posts here do not represent the opinions of all regular contributers, blue cheddar, or the blog’s many guest writers.

As I wrote earlier, of the four Democratic candidates vying to face Walker in the June 5 Wisconsin Recall election, my pick is Kathleen Vinehout, who has said this on more than one occasion: “If you don’t like big money in politics, vote for the candidate with the least money. If you don’t like politics as usual, vote for the unusual candidate.”

So I’m following her advice, and on May 8 I’m voting for Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who is running as a Lincoln/La Follette progressive Republican. I love the idea of a progressive running as a Republican. This is taking the fight right to Walker himself, to his territory, his own party. This is taking the offensive position. It is nothing less than an occupation of the Republican party.

The Republican party began right here in Wisconsin, in the city of Ripon in 1854, as an abolitionist force opposed to the expansion of slavery into the western territories. The first Republican president was none other than Abraham Lincoln himself, to whom Art bears more than a passing resemblance. Obviously the party has strayed far—very far—from its noble beginnings.

Arthur is serious in his determination to defeat Walker. By running against him as a Republican, he’s showing himself to be a clever, resourceful young man capable of thinking outside the box. And he is young—23 years young. In our struggle against the corporate takeover of our state, most of us thought we had no choice but to rely on the often disappointing Democratic party, but very often Democratic candidates are beholden to the same corporate forces we are fighting against and are only slightly less repugnant than their GOP counterparts.

In a way, Art’s running as a Republican brings us around full circle, creates a simultaneously new and old, authentic and innovative space in which to carry on our fight. Voting as a Democrat in the primary means choosing among four candidates—all of them good, none of them perfect, none of them eliciting the fervor of the day-after-day winter protests of February and March 2011 nor the dogged determination of the campaign to collect recall signatures.

To my mind, right now, voting against Walker is paramount. And Arthur is giving us a chance to do just that, quite emphatically, on May 8 as well as on June 5. And given that my positive feelings about the four Democratic contenders aren’t anywhere near as strong as my negative feelings toward Walker, what I really, really want is to vote vehemently, adamantly against Walker.

Arthur has developed what he calls a living platform—living, because it will grow and take shape as he responds to the concerns of the people. The one thing that has incensed me most about Walker has been his refusal to listen to the people of Wisconsin. He and his cronies in the legislature have treated us with utter contempt. The people of Wisconsin need a governor who will listen to us and identify with us, who will bear in mind and heart the present and future well-being of the people of Wisconsin.

John Nichols writes:

Arthur Kohl-Riggs runs in the Wisconsin Republican tradition, a radical tradition that embraces labor rights, human rights and democracy. That’s what Wisconsin Republicans believed in for far longer than they have embraced the boilerplate language of contemporary conservatism—as espoused by Scott Walker.

“I am a Lincoln-La Follette Republican, a real Wisconsin Republican,” says Kohl-Riggs. “Scott Walker is the fake Republican.”

Arthur wrote a great piece for the Cap Times this week in which he says, “I love Wisconsin for what our state has historically valued and for how tirelessly we will fight against those who do not have the people’s best interests at heart.”

You can see Art’s interview with Wisconsin Eye here and his interview with Channel 3 News here.

Arthur’s campaign is fun. Think of it—fun! The tag line at the top of Art’s web page says “Art for Gov: Not currently the subject of an ongoing John Doe investigation!” A couple of the homegrown, grassroots campaign posters I’ve seen show Arthur dressed in top hat and bow tie, clearly evoking a young Abe Lincoln, literally running, with a tag line that says “Arthur Kohl-Riggs ‘Running’ For Gov.” It’s not that he’s not serious. He is in earnest. But the wise know it’s best in a sustained fight against evil to nurture a healthy sense of humor, which requires perspective and humility, guards against discouragement, and keeps enthusiasm and optimism fresh and vigorous.

I’m delighted that Arthur has stepped up to challenge Walker directly on his own political turf. At worst, he may help us to keep Republicans from “messing around” with the Democratic primary. At best, we give Walker the boot a month early.

For my part, I’m completely fed up with the corporate takeover of our state. I’ve had enough of big money in politics, and politics as usual makes me utterly ill. The thought of voting in the Democratic primary on May 8 smells a lot like politics as usual to me. Whereas every time I think about voting for Art on May 8, I smile.

2 thoughts on “Occupy the GOP: Art for Gov May 8

  1. First let me say I have the utmost admiration for Worley Dervish. And I agree with much, if not all, of what she says. My issue is practical politics. The dilemma is as old as the hills. When do I vote my conscience and when do I vote for a candidate who fulfills most of my criteria and can win. I was tempted to vote for Ralph Nader. But I believed his candidacy was only symbolic. Symbols mean a lot to me but they don’t trump winning unless my choices are limited to tyrannical imbeciles. Democrats, Progressives, Liberals et al. did a fine job hanging together through Feb/Mr 2011 and on through the Recall Petition Phase. Since then they have fallen back to their usual fragmentation default, “when the rubber hits the road” posture. I can feel it at the Capitol every day. The old camaraderie is gone or lightly hidden beneath a cloak of palpable tension. Yes, we sing and rally but something is missing. Choosing has become cheap quibbling over four great candidates. Legislative Democrats have chosen a cozy colleague and haven’t left enough of the decision up to the people. The Unions have taken a hit for their early support of another – a bad rap I would say – but it has become divisive. The other two candidates have been left hanging in the wind. The Democratic candidates and progressive voters need to get their thinking straight so the people can choose their DEMOCRAT. This is a war. Good generals don’t call in the army of Luxembourg just because they have fine ideals and dress up real pretty. Arthur is a well-intentioned, brave young man but only a vote one Democrat won’t receive.
    Mary, you have every right to vote for Arthur. Again, I have no gripe with your arguments – they’re sound. I even applaud your independence and bravery. I gave up fighting for the Gene McCarthy’s in 1968. Not because his cause wasn’t worth fighting for. Because it was symbolic energy I’ll always treasure expending but wish I had back.
    Your brother in the cause and with respect, Box Man

    • Boxman–I will vote for whichever Democrat comes through the primary. But if the anti-Walker passion could coalesce behind Art K-R, we could in effect be rid of Walker by May 9th

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