“One Year Longer, One Year Stronger” Reflections on the Protests in Wisconsin

As many of you are aware it’s been just over one year since soon to be former Governor Walker announced his “budget repair bill”. Part of this budget repair bill took away collective bargaining rights from public workers. The thing that made my blood boil was the “budget repair bill” was “needed” because of all the tax cuts Walker gave to companies during his first month as governor. This told me that the current administration valued tax cuts to corporations more than workers’ rights. A strong middle class is built because workers have some say in their work place. Taking away any workers’ rights is NOT the “Wisconsin way”.

So much has happened since that fateful day in February it’s tough to even know where to start. There have been so many highs and just as many lows. It’s difficult to keep up on everything happening in Wisconsin politics. I’ve seen mass protests form almost overnight. In fact one of the very first protests against Walker was at the Post Crescent office here in Appleton. I’ve seen a large number of people become politically active for the first time in their lives. I’ve seen an unprecedented number of recall elections.

Before this I never really paid attention to state politics because in the back of my mind I always thought Wisconsin was different and that somehow our politicians were more reasonable than in other states. In my mind, all Wisconsin politicians strove to do the “right thing” for the state and were willing to listen to everyone, even dissenters. Boy, was I wrong and more than a little naive.

In the last year I’ve seen politicians who avoid town hall meetings with their constituents. Some of our elected legislators prefer either a pay for event like a breakfast or telephone conference call. I’ve heard politicians say they’re not interested in listening to people testifying at “listening sessions”. I don’t know about you, but I always believed “we the people” hired these officials by electing them. It’s part of their job description to listen to everyone, not just the people that voted for them. We shouldn’t have to pay to speak with them nor agree completely with them in order to be heard.

Most importantly, I’ve seen a state-wide community of progressives form. Since this started I have found so many unsung Wisconsin heroes, it’s impossible to name them all. There are the people who braved blizzards and froze while protesting at the capital last winter, the people who canvassed neighborhoods during the heat of the summer and who can forget the tens of thousands of people who gathered recall signatures this winter. It may have started because of collective bargaining rights, but it’s branched out to become something much bigger than that. This has turned into a movement that has gained the attention and support of people from all over the country. Many progressives from other states are pinning their hopes and dreams on the successes we have here. They believe their states have a chance to improve if we succeed here in Wisconsin. We can and will make things better. At the beginning people would say “one day longer, one day stronger”, now we can all say “one year longer, one year stronger”. Let’s keep this amazing progressive momentum going FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!

Walker Supporter Behaving Badly

The following post is based on reports from social media and from the video above. Zach W. at Blogging Blue has also covered this incident. His post is worth the read. I find myself with more questions than answers regarding what’s being shown on this video. Why would anyone say something to the effect of “You are being harassed and pretty soon you’re going to be killed” when they know they are being videotaped, especially when they know their company vehicle and license plate number are also on the video? In my humble opinion everyone should be condemning this behavior. Wisconsin, we are better than this. We can disagree politically without it coming to threats and or harassment. I have some “feelers” out there and hope to gather more information on this later in the day. Stay tuned for the developing story.

Update from Appleton, WI Recall Walker Headquarters

I stopped at the recall Walker headquarters in Appleton last night and am happy to report that the recall effort in Appleton has just over half of their 22,711 signature goal. That news warmed the cockles of this wonk’s heart. Come on, Appleton area, I bet if everyone works together we can reach 200% of this goal. Together we can do this!

This is an opportunity for the Fox Valley to shine as a progressive area. Many people around the country are pinning their hopes and dreams on the successes in Wisconsin because they believe if we can make positive change here, they can do the same. Let’s show them how it’s done. If you have even an hour of your time to spare, please volunteer your time to this worthy cause. What better Christmas present can you give your friends and family than helping to create a better tomorrow in Wisconsin? We can’t afford to wait until the next election to oust Walker. We need to do this now if we are to have any hope for our great state.

I’ve spoken with a few people from around the state who are noticing the great progressive voices in our area. They’ve read the letters to the editor published in the Appleton Post Crescent and are impressed with the talented writers who come from this area. Let’s continue to do this. Our voices need to be heard in the community. We can continue to show the state that progressives can come from places other than Madison. I point this out because many area conservatives believe the only progressives in the state reside in Madison. Let’s prove them wrong.


Here is the updated office wish list.
Recall Walker Office Wish List

The recall Walker office headquarters:
612 W College Ave
Appleton, WI 54911
9-9 weekdays and 10-7 weekends.

Wisconsin Gears up to Recall Gov. Scott Walker & Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

The long awaited and anticipated effort to recall Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch is gearing up all over the state. I can hardly wait. Volunteers can start collecting signatures on November 15. There will be a recall Walker rally on Saturday November 19 at the capital in Madison. Click here for information on how to sign up.

To find a recall office close to you go to either the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s web site or the site run by United Wisconsin. You can also sign up to volunteer by going to a sign up sheet at either the Wisconsin Democratic Party page or United Wisconsin.

Here’s a link to some nifty recall Walker handouts. The Wisconsin Democratic Party has a extensive list of site. Walker’s failures and a useful list of FAQs to look over. Here are two very important FAQ questions from that page.
Q: When will we start circulating petitions?
Tuesday, November 15th. This would mean that the all petitions would be due would be Friday, January 13th.
Q: How many signatures are required?
540,208 valid signatures. The actual undertaking of a recall election is an incredibly daunting task that requires collecting a great amount of signatures- in a relatively short period of time. In Wisconsin, the number of valid signatures required to trigger a recall election is equal to 25% of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of governor within the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled. Even more of a challenge, these signatures must be collected in a mere 60 days.

Click here if you’re interested in purchasing Recall Walker swag. It’s what all the fashionable recall Walker volunteers are wearing this season.

We can and must recall this governor. Is it going to be difficult? Yes, but together we can do it and it’s going to be so worth it. This is the final week before we can start collecting recall signatures and I’m sure quite a few people are excited about this. Browsing through both recall Walker sites is not only fun, but it’s educational. I suggest looking over both if you have the chance.

Last night I attended Recall Walker training at the Appleton Office. Below are some pictures from the event.

Move Over McCarthy, Wisconsin Has a New Progressive Movement

Joseph McCarthy is still dead and we have an opportunity to create a new, progressive political legacy for the state of Wisconsin. I made a trip to St. Mary’s Cemetery in Appleton to take some pictures of the cemetery and “Tailgunner Joe’s” headstone. It has a great view of the Fox River. Here are some pictures.

The whole world is watching the events in Wisconsin as they unfold. There are many around the country and world that are pinning their hopes on our successes. They feel if we are successful in restoring our democracy, they will have a chance to do it, as well. Wisconsin we can prove that people are more important than special interest groups and big money. Wisconsin will show the world what a democracy of the people looks like. The people in Wisconsin are some of the most bright, creative, cooperative people I know. If anyone can bring back democracy, we can do it.

The next thing we need to do is “flip the senate” with the recall elections on Tuesday, August 9th. From now until the elections we need “all hands on deck” for the final push. Go here for information to become personally involved with GOTV or go here to complete a simple volunteer sign up sheet. You can still participate, even if you’re not close to a recall district by calling from the comfort of your own home using the DPW’s Virtual Phone Bank. Here’s a motivational video by TheBluecheddar to get you going

It never ceases to amaze me how many times Joseph McCarthy is still brought up in political discussions. I may be a little more sensitive to this than the average because he came from my hometown, but it seems to me that I hear and see his name everywhere. I’ve seen his name scrawled in sidewalk chalk by the capital in Madison and praised by the right wing. He’s gone far beyond being a two term U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. He even has an “ism” named after him.

How many times have you heard or seen “McCarthyism” during political discussion? McCarthy and McCarthyism are brought up by everyone in politics, liberals and conservatives both like bringing up his name and legacy at every possible opportunity.

The right wing still worships him. Ann Coulter spends a great deal of time and energy in her books defending McCarthy and his legacy. She even made a pilgrimage to Appleton, WI to have her picture taken next to his grave. Many of the ring wing believe McCarthy’s legacy has been tarnished by “liberal bias” and want to restore McCarthy’s honorable reputation.

Liberals like to bring up his “McCarthyism” when they are talking about something particularly bad. Here are a couple of things that McCarthy did during his life. These are not the most notable things he did, just the ones I learned about today. He defended the German S.S. Troops who killed U.S. Soldiers who were taken as Prisoners of War during World War II and turned his back on the very labor unions who helped get him elected.

As an added bonus, I stopped by the John Birch Society headquarters on my way home from the cemetery. They are headquartered in Appleton. Here are the pictures.

I’ll leave you with a song about Joseph McCarthy by Chris Buhalis, it’s called “Talkin’ Sounds Just Like Joe McCarthy Blues” found here.

Remember, it’s up to each of us to do what we can to “flip the senate”!

Special thanks to Ray Reynolds AKA @cr8f for photo editing. He’s another one of my #wiunion favorites.

Mahlon Mitchell Energizes the Crowd in Green Bay

by Appleton Wonk

The Wisconsin Truth Tour kicked off yesterday morning at the Teamsters Hall in Green Bay. Many groups including the AFL-CIO are coordinating this effort. The speakers included President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO Phil Neuenfeldt, paraprofessional educator Jason Albertz, United Steelworkers District 2 Director Mike Bolton, President of the Wisconsin State Professional Firefighters Mahlon Mitchel, Greg Hinds with the AFL-CIO and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives Steve Kagen. . Here are some pictures taken before the event.

This tour gives community members an opportunity to voice their concern about Gov. Walker’s budget and makes stops in Green Bay, Rhinelander, Baraboo, Oshkosh, Kenosha, Milwaukee, La Crosse and Hudson. Here’s the full schedule of tour stops .

Wisconsin Truth Tour Dates:

Saturday, June 16:  Green Bay
Wednesday, July 20:  Rhinelander
Thursday, July 21:  Baraboo
Friday, July 22:  Oshkosh
Monday, July 25:  Kenosha
Tuesday, July 26:  Milwaukee
Monday, August 1:  La Crosse
Tuesday, August 2:  Hudson

This is the final weekend before the election for Senator Hansen faces David Vanderleest in the general election. As @gbneal59 said via Twitter “Remember, in February, Sen. Hansen stood up for Wisconsin workers. Now stand up for Sen. Hansen, general election this Tuesday, July 19”. Don’t miss this opportunity to volunteer some of your time to help a senator that has worked tirelessly for you. Volunteer opportunities can be found at either Dave Hansen’s website or through the AFL-CIO site.

Appleton Wonk Canvasses for Nancy Nusbaum and hears, “Protesters are all in Madison”

by Appleton Wonk


I’ve recently had the opportunity to do some canvassing for Nancy Nusbaum in Kaukauna with a great friend and mentor. Kaukauna is located in Outagamie County and is considered the “Heart of the Valley”, part of the Appleton Metro Area. According to the official site, Kaukauna covers 4,190 acres with a population of 15,462 as of the 2010 census.  The vote in Kaukauna is about equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, but the entire area has a strong conservative history. They are known for their cheese and paper making industries.

Nancy Nusbaum is running as a Democrat to challenge Robert Cowles in Wisconsin’s Second Senate District for the recall election. She has served four terms as Mayor of De Pere, eight years as Brown County Executive and spent time as Director of Crime Victims Services. She will first face “fake” Democrat Otto Junkerman in the primary on July 12th.

A few people told me that we were the third visit they have had in the last two weeks and a couple were annoyed with the repeated visits by canvassers, while others said we were the first canvassers to stop by.

Overall our canvassing went well with about half indicating their support for Nancy. There were a few that stated they normally vote with the Democrats and will be voting Republican this time because they are frustrated with the Democratic Senators that left the state. These people see the Democrats as being unwilling to “do their jobs” and “negotiate with the Republicans”. On the other hand, I spoke with a Republican that is voting for Nancy because he believes the Republicans are “taking it too far”. He will be encouraging his wife to vote for her as well.

There were quite a few complaints directed towards both the Democrats and Republicans. Some people are upset at the cost of all the recall elections. Others believe the protests in Madison are creating chaos in the state and want that to stop. I heard people say that it’s only union members that are protesting, while others believe it’s only a “Madison thing”. I got the sense that a few people really think the protesters are an extremely small group of people that are getting large amounts of money from outside interests.

There was only one outwardly hostile person. He practically charged out the door at us and seemed ready for a fight. We left quickly and told him to “have a great evening”.

It was a pleasant surprise to me that almost every person was polite, even when they held opposing political views. One lady who would not support Nancy for senate offered to lend us her umbrella because it looked like rain and she was concerned we would get wet while canvassing and told us we could return the umbrella at any time.

Canvassing and phone banking is very important now because so much is at stake for our state and there is so much misinformation being spread, even by the major news media. Please consider playing a role in the upcoming election cycle. The future of our state and way of life as we know it is relying on it.

Learn more about Nancy Nusbaum and how you can help out at NancyForSenate.com

More information on Kaukauna can be found here. http://www.cityofkaukauna.com/about/didyouknow.asp

Video: Defend Wisconsin

I made this roughly 3 minute video. William had a lot more to say, which will make its way onto this blog as additional audio recordings  —but for now, a video will do.  (It’s 11:45pm)

Watch, and following, please visit defendwisconsin.org

Direct link to video.

Canvassing on porches & Polls are positive: Feingold and Barrett

Photo from aflcio of flickr under creative commons license.

The good news is that Feingold and Johnson show as 2 points apart by the St. Norbert poll and Tom Barrett and Scott Walker are about 9 points apart with a 5% margin of error, using landline phones.

This is great! But can you imagine how great those numbers would be if they texted us on our cell phones too? I haven’t had a land line phone in *5 years* I have a cell phone and I never talk on it because I don’t have to. This is the age of Tivo and text. We don’t talk, watch, or listen until we’re darned ready to! I use my phone to send texts…just like my 21-year-old son.  And my 45 year old partner.

Stealing a play from the “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” folk:  “We’re young. We’re digital. Get used to it!!”

In other news, I am out canvassing. I want to tell you, dear bloggers and digerati, it is a good and enlightening thing to get out there and talk to real people! As you might guess, I am not supposed to give out all details but I can say:

-Russ Feingold has strong name recognition amongst voters who say they are completely undecided and uninformed on all other political matters.

-Undecided voters don’t hate politics with a passion. They seem open and curious when they talk to me. But to give this some perspective, I am not a noisy attack ad backed by a shadowy organization. I am a civil human who speaks reasonably well, and is open to responses and questions. I am not twisting arms. I am giving concise information. A lighter touch works. It is already a powerful thing that I have physically transported myself to their porches in the name of what I care about.

-Female voters are not the “Jobs, jobs, jobs” type. I surmise that is because we are often still left holding the bag with life’s untidy and unwieldy issues like building community, making doctor appointments, taking care of aging family members, educating kids and keeping the air clean enough to give those kids a place to play.  Us domestic engineers have no choice but to worry about “domestic policies”.

-I thought undecided voters had to be uneducated and poor. WRONG. Undecided voters are not dumb. They are busy. They are working hard. They are cleaning the house. They have nice yards and decent cars and they do enjoy talking about politics a little when somebody stops by.

So to conclude: Commit to 1 or 2 days of actual talking to human beings on the phone or in person about politics. Escape the echo chamber with Feingold’s campaign or Barrett’s.