Madison The life-and-death struggle in Wisconsin to turn back the radical and sweeping rightwing program of Governor Scott Walker being waged by progressive forces is entering another set of critical challenges. The primary to choose a Democratic opponent to Walker votes on May 8th only weeks away with the general election a month later on June 5th.
The Democratic primary is generating very little interest it seems and Walker has already spent millions with a huge bank account raised in readiness assiduously around the country as progressives and unions were mounting the recall petition campaign against him. My casual observation about the invisibility of the campaign concretized as part of the mountain campaigners are trying to climb to arouse interest in the campaign.
I sat through an earnest and fascinating meeting at the Blatz Brewery building where Caroline Murray, organizing director for Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream and veteran community organizer and friend, was meeting with union representatives, the League of Young Voters, community-based organizations connected with the Gamaliel network, Wisconsin Citizen Action, and Voces de Frontera and various DJ’s, artists, and others connected to the Milwaukee community, to try and figure out an event between the primary and the general election that might motivate “millennial” young voters to actually connect with the importance of getting out to vote by combining art, culture, and politics. There was lots of head shaking assent about the importance of motivating these newer voters and a willingness to try new things, but skepticism on the level of buy-in from the community and whether the impact would be equal to the effort.
Talking later to Bruce Coburn, former head of the Milwaukee AFL-CIO, long time AFL, SEIU staffer and friend, as I cadged a ride in the rain to the bus, he was still guardedly optimistic about the residual impact of the We Are Wisconsin movement that had grown up during the initial struggle and recall effort. He was encouraged by what he had seen of the sustainability and robustness of the efforts in Milwaukee and several other cities, though recognized that energy was flagging in many Wisconsin communities overtime, as is often the case. He believed the fight was all in, but it was clear that he was deeply worried about progressive prospects for victory in the gubernatorial election. Nonetheless there was real optimism and hope when he talked about the real opportunity he saw for “independent” political action once the state and federal elections were over at the end of the year, which I could heartily support.
Hard work was being done everywhere and commitments were deep, but this looks like a fight to the wire where once again the odds are against us and every bit of support anyone can muster and offer is needed and necessary.