For some, there wasn’t a better venue for America’s first Democracy Convention than the in-your-face capitol of local democracy, Madison, Wisconsin — a state with a long history of progressive sensibilities. Earlier this years thousands of protesters converged upon the capitol in response to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislative majority’s decision to end collective bargaining for public employees — a fight that is not over and one leading to a test of Walker’s reelection capability.
Clad in a tiara, long dress and sash reading "Do You Miss Democracy?" Mary Zepernick approached a table at the Memorial Union Terrace Saturday night with a question clearly on her mind. "Do you miss democracy?" she asked the group. "I do."
It was a bit of street theater, Zepernick, 71, explained the next day in a phone interview. "It's a way to catch the attention of people, to just shake up their minds a little."
Say what you want about Take Back the Land-Madison, whose members have occupied a handful of foreclosed properties to protest public policies that put families out on the street. Their tactics are audacious, if nothing else. It's a brand of activism with the power to rally the allies and antagonize opponents.
Labor supporters go from the streets and into breakout sessions at the Democracy Convention in Madison. Mayor Paul Soglin kicked off the event reflecting on this year’s massive protests and continued fight against changes by Governor Walker and the Republican majority. He says until then the public was not paying enough attention.
“We cannot rest and assume that others are going to take care of our society,” says Soglin.
There may be no other convention where you can learn about the history of civil disobedience, go to a class called Organizing 101, and discuss how to make a general strike succeed.
The first ever Democracy Convention will be held in Madison Wednesday through Sunday.
"It's the first national gathering in my lifetime that has focused on the underlying question of who rules," said Ben Manski, former co-chair of the Green Party of the U.S. and an event organizer. "[It] is not just interested in criticizing the lack of democracy in the United States but is devoted toward strengthening the movement to achieve the American promise of democracy."
The first Democracy Convention got under way Wednesday, and the five-day gathering is expected to draw up to 1,000 political and social activists from across the country.
The convention brought together at least two generations of left-wing activists ready to hash out such issues as voting rights, access to education and U.S. constitutional reform.
Tom Hayden, a key figure in anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam era, was among the scheduled keynote speakers. The convention was organized by Ben Manski, a 37-year-old Madison attorney and former co-chairman of the national Green Party.
The timing could not be better, but organizers say plans for this week's Democracy Convention in Madison were set before Gov. Scott Walker's introduction of his collective bargaining bill and the ensuing protests that led some to compare the uprising in Wisconsin to democratic rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia.
The gaffe-prone candidacies of Michele “Elvis” Bachmann and Rick “C’mon, Men, Let’s String Us Up Some Bernanke” Perry, and the slapstick non-candidacy of Sarah “Two If by Sea” Palin, are merely the cheap theater of an ill-defined Republican presidential race. The real drama of the 2012 race continues to come from the CEO party’s CEO candidate: Willard Mitt Romney.
Wisconsin voters have shown time and time again that they are not extremists. Voters in largely Republican areas of the state sent a message in recent days that the actions of those in charge of state government have been too extreme by voting for greater moderation.
In unprecedented state senate recall elections, the number of legislators removed from office in this manner over the 163-year history of Wisconsin was doubled in a single summer. A third of Republican senators targeted for recall were ousted, while two others narrowly survived election-day scares. All three of the targeted Democratic senators were returned to office by comfortable margins.
Five months to the day after the Republican majority in the Wisconsin state Senate voted to approve Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees, two of the governor’s most prominent allies in the chamber have been removed from office.
Western Wisconsin state Sen. Dan Kapanke and eastern Wisconsin Sen. Randy Hopper were both defeated in recall elections that provided a powerful indication of the state’s anger with Walker’s assault on worker rights.
Radio talk show host Thom Hartmann meets Ben Manski, Chair-Democracy Convention / Executive Director of Liberty Tree / Spokesperson for Move to Amend. They show us how to fight back against plutocrats who want to buy elected officials.
As faith in U.S. political system hits historic lows, organizers announce that
LAUNCH OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT WILL BE AUGUST 24-28 IN MADISON, WISCONSIN
(MADISON, WI) ~ The eyes of the nation will return to Madison, Wisconsin, August 24-28, as nearly 1,000 community, labor, and student organizers gather at the first Democracy Convention to launch a movement to bring democracy to the United States.
With the Democracy Convention beginning in 23 days, we are please to announce our second keynote speaker: Cheri Honkala. She joins Tom Hayden and Michelle Shocked in headlining five days of celebration, strategy, and community-building.
That's how the state's only Latina state lawmaker sums up the new Assembly and Senate district boundary lines draw up and released by Republican lawmakers a little more than a week ago.
With the state's Latino population jumping from roughly 193,000 in 2000 to 323,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, says one of the state's 33 Senate seats could have been turned into a predominantly Latino district. The move would have given the state's growing Latino population its first guaranteed voice in the Senate.
Waukesha - When Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said in May that she intended to start providing unofficial election night results broken down by municipality - something that might have flagged the kind of snafu that earned her notoriety after the Supreme Court election this spring - she did not mean all municipal results.
Nickolaus told the County Board's Executive Committee on Monday that she'll change her reporting practices based on advice from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
When pressed in committee by Supervisor David Swan as to whether she'd return to past practice of showing results for municipalities, even if the state elections officials don't suggest it, she said, "Not at this point."
Three things are obvious from the ad wars that are quickly escalating in Wisconsin’s recall elections.
One: They will be very, very expensive.
Spending on broadcast TV for just one race — the northwestern Wisconsin seat now held by Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls — has totaled roughly three-quarters of a million dollars in recent weeks, according to estimates by CMAG, the national firm that tracks campaign spots.
“We are in uncharted territory,” says political scientist and CMAG president Ken Goldstein, referring to the unusual dynamics of these legislative races: mid-summer, stand-alone, quasi-nationalized elections in which nobody is quite sure who will vote and how big the electorate will be.