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"Filling the Great Void" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 15:35

donald-trumpToday’s Republican Party has become the party of backlash. The Democratic Party is now widely seen as the party of entitlement and protected classes. In the middle 'Made-for-TV' characters like Donald Trump gladly try to fill the empty space.


ALTOONA, WI - Fear. Anger. Envy. Resentment. Division. Hate. Violence. Madness. Folly. Destruction. Decline.

These are what America’s Great Void naturally and inevitably will produce.

The current condition of the two major political parties has created a vacuum. Made-for-TV characters like Donald Trump gladly try to fill the empty space.

Republicans are increasingly spooked by the prospect of having Trump as their standard bearer. Prominent Democrats are pointing out that the Republicans did this to themselves. This is, of course, true. But it’s not the whole truth.

Democrats share blame for fueling Trump’s rise because Democrats bear great responsibility for the formation of the Great Void.

The Democratic Party is now widely seen as the party of entitlement and protected classes. It is seen as the party that taxes those who work and gives to those who don’t, the party that will give you the shirt off someone else’s back. Democratic policies catering to narrow constituencies since at least the 1960s have continually reinforced this image.

Over the years Democrats earned a reputation as water carriers for organized labor. This reputation served Democrats well when you could find a union member in nearly every family in the country. But the vast majority of working people in the U.S. don’t belong to unions anymore. Unions now represent only about one in 10 American workers. In the private sector it’s more like one in 15. The masses of nonunion blue-collar laborers see the Democrats fighting for those few, but not for them.

Today’s Republican Party has become the party of backlash. The GOP has dedicated itself to demolishing the welfare state, cutting down the social safety net, pitting one group of working people against another, and generally retracing every liberal step that’s been taken and reversing every liberal law that’s been made. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Donald Trump perfectly embodies the backlash. And he is a personality so large he can seemingly fill the Great Void all by himself.

The problem for Republicans is their identity at the moment is entirely wrapped up in what they want to tear down. The only thing they can think to build is walls. Making America a fortress has undeniable appeal to the darkest side of our nature, but closing ourselves off from others won’t make our country great again. Isolationism in any of its many forms has never made America great. Turns out that while Trump’s personality is luminous and gigantic, his vision is dark and puny. Even with an ego that large stepping into the vacuum, the Great Void remains.

Filling it requires us to stop fixating on what we are entitled to and focusing instead on how to best serve others. Thinking service instead of entitlement, thinking we first instead of me first, will lead to rethinking policies geared to helping a tenth of Americans and coming up with new ones aiming to help us all. What better way to start making it clear that we’re all in this together than to thoroughly overhaul a tax system that political privilege built and which breeds further economic inequality.

Filling the Great Void comes down to making three words the guiding light for every step we take and every law we make. One for all.

 
See Matt Rothschild Next Week Near You PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 11 March 2016 14:30

wisconsindemocracycampaignMADISON - I’m going to be traveling all over the state next week, so I hope you can attend one of my events if you’re in Milwaukee, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wausau, Green Bay, Appleton, Sheboygan, Waukesha, or Janesville.

The Milwaukee event is Thursday, March 17, and is sponsored by the Milwaukee Press Club and is onKeeping Public Records Public.” I’ll be on a panel with Attorney General Brad Schimel, so I may tangle with him a bit. The event is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Lake Express High-Speed Ferry Terminal, 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive.

The other events are all panels sponsored by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, and they deal with how to use the open records law. The Council has created Facebook event pages for each of the stops for those on Facebook who care to share them with others.

The stops and locations are listed here:

Day 1: Tuesday, March 15

2 pm: La Crosse
Local sponsor: La Crosse Tribune
Venue: La Crosse Public Library, 800 Main St.

7 pm: Eau Claire
Local sponsor: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
Venue: UW-Eau Claire, Centennial Hall, Room 1614

Day 2: Wednesday, March 16

10 am: Wausau
Local sponsor: Wausau Daily Herald
Venue: Marathon County Public Library; 300 N. 1st St. Wausau

2 pm, Green Bay
Local sponsor: Green Bay Press-Gazette
Venue: Brown County Public Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay

7:30 Appleton
Local sponsor: Appleton Post-Crescent
Venue: Appleton Public Library, 225 N Oneida St.

Day 3: Thursday, March 17

10 am, Sheboygan
Local sponsor: Sheboygan Press
Venue: Sheboygan Public Library, 710 N 8th St.

2 pm, Waukesha
Local sponsor: Schott, Bublitz and Engel, S.C.
Venue: Waukesha Public Library, 321 W Wisconsin Ave.

7 pm, Janesville
Local sponsor: Janesville Gazette
Venue: Blackhawk Technical College. 6004 S. County G, Janesville, Room 1400B

I hope to see you at one of these events, before I wear out!

Last Updated on Friday, 11 March 2016 14:41
 
Legislative Speed and Secrecy Undermines Deliberative Democracy PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:57

rtw-walkoutSen. Kathleen Vinehout writes about the frenetic pace at which bills are moving through the legislative process. Members of the public are working hard to get their voices heard on bills that have real impact on their lives, but this speed coupled with lack of information leads to poor legislative decisions.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 March 2016 17:29
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Sunshine Week 2016, Reflecting Back on the 2015 Budget Open Records Attack PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District   
Friday, 04 March 2016 16:15

joint-financeMADISON - The last day of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) state budget work in the summer of 2015 was expected to be a day with some surprises. One surprise no one could have anticipated was the inclusion of page after page of open records changes. Limiting not only nearly every Legislative office record, the changes also would have closed state public agency records and the Governors records as well. Maybe that is why we celebrate “Sunshine Week” every year, to remind us all of the value of open government and the importance of transparency.

To close open records was monumental, epic and dangerous. As JFC Democrats we were given only 15 minutes to talk about the Republican motion that gutted open records. I spent every single second of my time talking about the mistake of the open records change. I remember saying that in the future when these Legislators left office and were looking back, this vote, to gut the open records law, would be their biggest regret because of the damage it would cause the people of Wisconsin.

Not one Republican vote was swayed by that argument and every single Republican on the Committee voted in favor of gutting Wisconsin open records law, including Representative Czaja and Senator Harsdorf. So of course it was a little disappointing that the Wisconsin Newspaper Association honored these two Legislators with awards.

Wisconsin had some of the first open records laws in the country. Decisions making sure records of the government were open for inspection in Wisconsin are almost as old as the state itself. As we are about to embark on Sunshine Week 2016 to celebrate open government, I hope we will all reflect on the 2015 budget open records crisis and remember how quickly the rules can change if we take them for granted.

I have always been a defender of a strong Wisconsin Open Records law, even when I was sued because I would not give out personally indefinable information of constituents who had contacted my office. The ability to make a decision as a custodian of public records and the counter balance of being able to bring suit when you disagree is central to the Wisconsin open records law and I hope it will be for years to come. Let’s celebrate Sunshine Week 2016 with extra vigilance given the summer of 2015 action.

For more information on Wisconsin’s Open Records law contact my office at 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 888-549-0027.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 March 2016 16:27
 
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