The Progressive: Interfaith Activists Push for Reproductive Justice

The Progressive: Interfaith Activists Push for Reproductive Justice

Interfaith Activists Push for Reproductive Justice, May 2019

Rightwing religious groups have been mobilizing followers behind a new wave of abortion restriction bills crashing over state capitols in the North and South, crafted to ultimately overturn the 1973 Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

But the battle isn’t simply between religious anti-abortion advocates and a secular vanguard fighting to preserve abortion rights. Less visible, but no less vocal, are religiously grounded defenders of strong and expansive reproductive rights, as well as the rights of individual women—not the state—to make choices regarding the control of their own bodies…

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The Progressive: ‘It’s a Movement’

The Progressive: ‘It’s a Movement’

‘It’s a Movement’: The Poor People’s Campaign heads into the future with a robust agenda, April 2019

Protesters join hands as part of the 1968 Poor People’s March on Washington. Their work continues through a new generation of activists across the country, including in Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Poor People’s Campaign.

Wisconsin is one of more than thirty states where the Poor People’s Campaign has launched a chapter and seems to be on fertile ground. The state’s recent history of retrenched rightwing political muscle has made it a laboratory for policies that enrich corporate power and private wealth, escalating economic inequality and racial segregation. But those same forces have given rise to progressive popular resistance throughout the state, including last fall’s ouster of Republican Governor Scott Walker by Democrat Tony Evers.

Now the Wisconsin Poor People’s campaign is making a renewed effort to increase its visibility. And like the national campaign, it is focused on the long game, aiming for changes that will take years to achieve…

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‘The Center of Gravity is in the Local Work’: Liz Theoharis on the Poor People’s Campaign, May 2019

Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis rallies with fellow members of the Poor People’s Campaign in 2018. Photo by Steve Pavey.

An ordained Presbyterian minister and veteran social justice organizer, the Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis co-chairs the Poor People’s Campaign with the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II. Founded half a century ago by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the campaign was revived in late 2017 by Barber and Theoharis to empower the nation’s poor and marginalized people, and help build coalitions to address their challenges.

In May and June of 2018, the campaign undertook “Forty Days of Moral Action” around the country to draw attention to poverty, militarism, injustice, worker rights, and other social injustices. In June of this year, the campaign will focus on Washington, D.C., gathering for a People’s Moral Action Congress…

 

Isthmus: A Republican Without a Party

Isthmus: A Republican Without a Party

A Republican Without a Party: Longtime Political Aide Breaks with Trump’s GOP, November 2018

For one longtime committed Republican, the midterm election results proved to be “modestly encouraging” — because of how well the Democrats did.

Joseph Britt of Sun Prairie spent a couple of decades working for Republicans, including for U.S. Sen. Bob Kasten and Justice David Prosser, when Prosser was the state Assembly Republican leader in the early 1990s. But Britt, who has worked in the private sector since the mid-1990s, has grown increasingly disenchanted with the Republican Party and its leaders over the past two decades.

Joseph Britt: “The party of Trump is the party of the Charlottesville white-right mob.”

Britt has been sharing his political change of heart with friends and on social media for a while, but with a 25-part tweetstorm on Oct. 8 he made a complete break with the GOP, declaring “I’m out.”

“What is there left of Lincoln in today’s Republican Party? Of Theodore Roosevelt? Nothing,” Britt wrote in the penultimate tweet from that thread. “The party of Trump is the party of the Charlottesville white-right mob, the party of concentrated wealth, and perhaps most of all the party that rejects responsibility.”

His digital cri de coeur generated more than 11,000 retweets and more than three times as many likes. It multiplied the number of followers he has a startling sevenfold, he says, now reaching 5,600 at last count.

One of Britt’s souvenirs from “time raising money on the phone for the Republican National Committee.”

… For the 60-year-old Britt, the GOP is all but unrecognizable from the one that caught his attention while he was growing up on Long Island in a modest middle-class community. He says he was a political junkie in a largely non-political family by the time he was a teenager. A few years after college he went to work on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide, eventually joining Kasten’s office to specialize in agricultural policy. Traveling around Wisconsin for meetings with Kasten’s farm advisors, he grew to love the Dairy State and eagerly returned to work for Prosser and settle down here a few years later. …

 

Isthmus, The Progressive: Randy Bryce Stands Tall

Isthmus, The Progressive: Randy Bryce Stands Tall

Isthmus: Standing Tall, November 2018

Despite defeat, the “Iron Stache” inspired working class supporters

Randy Bryce told supporters in Racine: “Don’t hang your head. We fought one hell of a fight.” Photo by George Petrovich.

Randy Bryce’s 17-month quest to succeed U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan came to an end this week, but on Tuesday night, the Democrat and 54-year-old Racine County ironworker reassured supporters who packed his election night party that he — and they — weren’t going to go away.

“No, we’re not done yet — we’re just getting started,” Bryce told a cheering crowd at a bank-turned-party hall in the Uptown neighborhood of Racine after taking the stage to acknowledge his loss in the 1st District Congressional race. Republican Brian Steil, a corporate lawyer, former Ryan aide,and member of the UW Board of Regents, was crowned the winner a little more than an hour after the polls closed on Election Day with 55 percent of the vote.

In the end, despite a well-funded campaign and an enthusiastic base of supporters and volunteers, Bryce was unable to crack the solidly Republican district.

 


 

The Progressive: Randy Bryce, in Defeat, Looks at the “Whole Picture”, November 2018

Instead of gloom, Bryce and his supporters seemed to exude an air of gritty resolve

Randy Bryce on Madison’s Capitol Square this spring. Photo by Ken Fager.

Democrat Randy Bryce didn’t win his race for Congress. But as he thanked his supporters on Election Night, after the race was called for Republican Brian Steil, the fifty-four-year-old ironworker took a longer view.

“I’ve said it many times,” Bryce told the crowd of staffers, volunteers, and admirers who filled the hall in Racine, Wisconsin. “It’s not just about just winning one seat—the First District Congressional seat in southeast Wisconsin. It was never about that.

“It was about the whole picture. It was about taking back control of Congress. It was about standing up for working people. It was about pointing out the fact that if you’re an African American in this district, you’re in a horrible place, and things need to change.”

Given the heady excitement that Bryce’s campaign for the seat now held by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan had sparked among Democrats, the loss might have been expected to cast a shadow over the evening. Yet instead of gloom, Bryce and his supporters seemed to exude an air of gritty resolve.

The Progressive: What Randy Bryce Built

The Progressive: What Randy Bryce Built

What Randy Bryce Built, October 2018

Randy Bryce on Madison’s Capitol Square this spring. Photo by Ken Fager.

Countless politicians—even Trump himself—have run for office professing to champion the hopes, dreams, and perspectives of ordinary working people. The 2018 midterm election cycle has given birth to an army of insurgent progressive stars, from New York to Michigan to Idaho, with their own distinctive backgrounds and biographies.

Even in that crowded field, the solidly built, mustachioed construction worker Randy Bryce—popularly known by his Twitter handle, @IronStache—has managed to become one of the most-watched midterm election candidates, running for the Congressional district represented for the last twenty years by Republican Paul Ryan, now Speaker of the House of Representatives…

Milwaukee Magazine: Milwaukee’s Parking Puzzle

Milwaukee Magazine: Milwaukee’s Parking Puzzle

Milwaukee’s Parking Puzzle, August 2018

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“It’s the single biggest land use in most cities,” says Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor who’s made parking policy his primary research focus.

Despite its ubiquity, parking is a finite resource, like every other form of urban space. But the number of cars — especially in Milwaukee, where we particularly love them — is potentially overwhelming. Managing that paradox is at the root of any city’s approach to creating parking at enforcing its rules. How well it’s managed can affect everything from development and employment to retail and nightlife to where people want to live. Add about 50 inches of snow annually into the mix, and you can start to get a sense of the enormity of the challenge in Milwaukee.

Isthmus: Surf’s up, Democrats hope to ride a wave through Wisconsin

Isthmus: Surf’s up, Democrats hope to ride a wave through Wisconsin

Surf’s up, August 2018

When Democrats gathered from all over the state in Oshkosh for their annual convention, speakers rallied delegates for what they hope will be a new era in Democratic rule.

Over two days of speeches in June, they attacked Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans on everything from Walker’s failure to create the 250,000 new jobs he promised when he first ran eight years ago to his administration’s handling of roads, health care, public education and workers’ rights.

But with virtually every exhortation came warnings against complacency. “Are you ready for a blue wave?” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) called out to the crowd at the climax of her Friday night stemwinder. “Yeah!” came the reply.

“Well I’m telling you, we’ve got to part the Red Sea!” Moore admonished them…