Remember when the Wisconsin state Senate ground to a halt to put a break on Scott Walker's anti-union jihad. The architect and leader of that was Chris Larson, who just reminded his supporters the other day that with Trump about to be installed in the White House– and with a Republican Congress and majorities in legislatures across America– including his own state– “each and every victory the progressive movement has logged is about to be on the menu for repeal. It's on us to step up and fight like never before so our children don't have to struggle to get a fair shot at the American dream.” I've been trying to persuade Chris to run for federal office for years but he still thinks the greatest contributions he can make are right there in Wisconsin. He's running for reelection to his state senate seat and Blue America has endorsed him00 our legislative endorsement of the year.
He's campaigning on a platform that states, strongly, that “we can’t afford to go back to a time when our family and friends couldn’t marry the person they love; when women had to pay more than men for their health care insurance; or when we viewed climate change as something deniable and without consequence. The rights set in place under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society are about to be second guessed. Under the threat of attacks on our societal values, we simply cannot abandon our commitment to each other…. The out-of-touch, harmful, and reckless priorities of Scott Walker, Donald Trump, and Paul Ryan are looming over us, growing darker and darker each day. Now is not the time to retreat.”
I asked Chris to re-introduce himself with a guest post. He wrote about why he feels so strongly that “we have the important task of keeping our commitment to each other by expressing our shared values.
Fighting Back In Wisconsin
-by Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson
The guarantees that were put in place by great progressive leaders are about to be ripped up. We saw this happen in Wisconsin where many of the progressive guarantees were born. If you know nothing about Wisconsin, you should know that we pride ourselves on our progressive ideals, our dedication to quality education, and our appreciation for the great outdoors.
We pioneered open primaries, passed the first workers compensation law, and were the first to bar discrimination of women. We put in place unemployment insurance before others and gave public employees the right to join a union and collectively bargain for their fair share.
On educating our people, Wisconsin was ahead of the curve in ensuring every child has access to a quality education. We not only put it in our state constitution, we set up the first Kindergarten in the country.
Our appreciation for the environment was one thing that could bring us all together. We’ve got a place where you can camp for cheap and hunt and fish on public land. Our US Senator Gaylord Nelson set up Earth Day so we would all think more about finding balance with our planet.
All this changed after Republicans took control of our state. Quickly, after the 2010 tea party wave, the largest cuts to education in state history forced the University of Wisconsin to fall out of the top 5 research institutions for the first time in 45 years. Class sizes have ballooned while local school boards were forced to pass a record number of referendums to make up the state-funding gap for local schools.
In the meantime, they went after the working man and what resulted was Wisconsin tripped itself out of the gate. We have the fastest shrinking middle class in the country and we fell behind the nation in job growth.
Scott Walker made it a point of pride to refuse federal funds for job creation and expansion of health care coverage for our neighbors. Our health care costs are now among the highest in the Midwest.
They've done just about everything to allow polluting industries to right the rules on destroying our shared environment. Republicans caved to threats from mining interests and re-wrote laws and rules in their favor. As a result, pristine lakes and streams have dried up and neighbors are forced to dig well after well in search of fresh water.
Knowing these things wouldn’t fly with voting Wisconsinites, Republicans sought to galvanize their power by quickly silencing the voice of the public. Very quickly, they went after public employee unions, their members, and others who fund progressive politics. Walker broke the law by coordinating with the special interest “Club for Growth” so they could push back against the historic recall against him. When this was revealed, the Republican court ordered an end to the investigation and that evidence be destroyed. If that wasn’t enough, the Republicans in the legislature set a new low by making it illegal for similar future investigations to take place against politicians and also made Wisconsin the first state where this previously illegal coordination would now be legal.
Not to let anything to chance, they put forward the most restrictive voter ID law in the country, redrew legislative districts to lock their majority in place, and spent millions to get a state Supreme Court that rubber-stamps their agenda.
We can’t let this happen to the rest of our country.
The fight is on us now. The question is whether we fight back or just let it happen.
We can’t allow a Russian puppet and those that put party over country to destroy the things we care most about.
If we don’t fight now, our children will have to reinvent the hallmarks our country established in previous generations: the rights set in place under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
We cannot abandon our commitment to each other.
We are still fighting back in Wisconsin. Despite Scott Walker’s unparalleled corruption, power grabbing, and illegal coordinating, Wisconsin was still the closest state in the country.
We’re still fighting back because we have to. I hope you’ll stand up and fight back for what we care about, too. It's the only way things will move forward again.
Please join us in helping make sure we can look forward to another term of Chris Larson's strong, principled leadership in the Wisconsin state Senate.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis