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…

 

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: The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Magazine: The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin

The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin, October 2017

Following 2010’s Republican-friendly mid-term election and the decennial census, many states, including Wisconsin, rewrote their congressional and legislative boundaries to favor the right wing. Our state is also one in 37 in which legislatures (and by extension political parties) have final control over the maps, as opposed to special bodies. However, it had been decades since a single party had control of state government during decennial redistricting…

There’s a word for drawing districts that give a lopsided advantage to one political party – gerrymandering – and the Supreme Court ruled more than 50 years ago that it can violate the Constitution by making some votes worth less than others. But justices have fallen short of a consensus on how to measure and limit partisan gerrymandering, and attempts to get them to overturn state maps, whether drawn by Republicans or Democrats, have failed.

Isthmus: Can Blue-Collar Progressive Topple Paul Ryan?

Isthmus: Can Blue-Collar Progressive Topple Paul Ryan?

Can Blue-Collar Progressive Randy Bryce Topple Paul Ryan?, September 2017

The video shows Randy Bryce sitting on a porch, chatting with residents, strolling with his arm around his 9-year-old son, then walking onto a construction site, hard hat on his head. The music swells toward a climax, and so does the man’s voiceover: “I decided to run for office because not everybody’s seated at the table. And it’s time to make a bigger table.”

With that video, union ironworker Randy Bryce kicked off his campaign against Ryan for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. After just one day, the video helped raise $100,000, mostly in small donations, from around the nation.

Ryan is in his 20th year in Congress with a seemingly indomitable record at the ballot box. But Bryce is unlike anyone who has ever challenged him.

Can Bryce — if he wins the Democratic nomination — succeed in toppling the House Speaker in 2018? Some say no…

The Progressive: The Little School District That Could

The Progressive: The Little School District That Could

The Little School District That Could, March 2017

Photo by Victor Bjorkund.

Now, after stripping public employees of their union rights, squeezing the ability of public schools to raise revenues, and throwing open the doors for private schools around the state to get public money by expanding Milwaukee’s controversial school voucher program, the state’s Republican lawmakers had come back for more. In a measure aimed exclusively at Racine, the state legislature wiped out the Racine Unified School district’s long-standing tradition . . .

Isthmus: Judicial Oversight

Isthmus: Judicial Oversight

Marquette law professor takes a bite out of crime myth, February 2017

Photo by Matthew Muller.

Despite widespread belief that stiff mandatory sentences are to blame for Wisconsin’s high incarceration rate, Marquette University law professor Michael O’Hear argues that it’s a lot more complicated . . .

Milwaukee Magazine: The New Crop

Milwaukee Magazine: The New Crop

The New Crop, July 2016

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Photo by Arnaldo Aladana.

Big farms keep getting bigger. Midsized farms keep disappearing. In the shadow of these seismic changes in the rural Wisconsin landscape, tiny farms have proliferated, fed by consumer demand for local eats and healthy choices. A look at what’s driving the supersizing, and microsizing, and what it means for the rest of us.