Tag: agenda

An open letter to America about Scott Walker from an Illinoisan who has blogged about Walker

My fellow Americans,

Sometime tomorrow, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker will formally launch his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

As someone who has blogged about Walker on a regular basis for the past few years, I’ve come to know Walker as a horrible politician who, with the help of his political allies in the Wisconsin State Legislature, has destroyed Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. In a sane world, Walker’s record as Governor of Wisconsin would be an immediate disqualifier for any future campaign for public office. To give you a description of Walker’s style of politics, if one combined the worst elements of Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Jerry Falwell, and Grover Norquist, you’d get Walker.

Since taking office as Wisconsin’s chief executive four and a half years ago, Scott Walker has, among other things:

  • Stripped collective bargaining rights from public employee unions
  • Enacted wage theft laws allowing non-union workers at unionized workplaces to refuse to join a labor union and/or pay union dues despite receiving union-negotiated wages and benefits
  • Drastically cut the pay of public employees
  • Made it harder for Wisconsin women to seek legal recourse if they’ve been denied equal pay for the same work as their male counterparts
  • Established a corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin that is rife with corruption, cronyism, and mismanagement
  • Cut funding from public elementary, secondary, and higher education
  • Expanded Wisconsin’s school voucher programs that funnel taxpayer money to religious schools
  • Made it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want
  • Given out tax breaks to big businesses and the wealthy
  • Weakened environmental protections
  • Arrested people for singing
  • Enacted discriminatory voter ID laws designed to keep Wisconsinites from voting
  • Stripped local control from counties and communities in Wisconsin that usually vote for Democratic candidates
  • Openly compared the people of Wisconsin to terrorists
  • Blatantly violated campaign finance laws
  • Given wealthy right-wingers and big business interests virtually complete control of Wisconsin’s state government

Walker’s policies and actions have, among other things:

  • Driven down the wages of Wisconsinites
  • Stifled economic growth in Wisconsin
  • Has made Wisconsin one of the most corrupt states in the entire country
  • Lowered the percentage of middle-class Wisconsin households
  • Left Wisconsin with severe budget problems
  • Made Wisconsin the laughingstock of America

However, we don’t live in a sane world. Walker has been elected Governor of Wisconsin three times in a four-year period against weak, uninspiring corporate Democrats. I believe that, if Democrats do not nominate Bernie Sanders for president, Scott Walker will become the next President of the United States, and, given how he’s wrecked Wisconsin over the past four and a half years, that is a truly scary thought. If Walker is elected president, what little remains of the American middle class and American sovereignty¬†will be completely destroyed, big business interests will completely take over the federal government at every level, America’s federal budget deficit and national debt will grow massively, social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare will be privatized or outright eliminated, America’s economy will crash again, and corruption will run amok in the federal government.

You can read about Scott Walker’s horrible track record here, here, here, here, and here, among many other places. Furthermore, if you ever get in touch with these people either in person or by other means, you can ask people like Lori Compas, Wendi Kent, Karen Vieth, Kati Walsh, Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, Zach Wisniewski, Kelda Roys, Chris Taylor, Melissa Sargent, Kathleen Vinehout, Rebecca Kemble, Fred Risser, Kelly Westlund, Barbara With, Randy Bryce, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Heather DuBois Bourenane, Ingrid Laas, Sachi Komai, Laura Komai, Jenni Dye, JoCasta Zamarripa, Laura Manriquez, Mandela Barnes, LaTonya Johnson, Angela Walker, Christine Sinicki, Lisa Mux, and Mike McCabe, just to name a few, about what they think about Scott Walker…they’re all Wisconsinites, and they know how horrible Scott Walker’s policies and actions have been for Wisconsin.

As a lifelong Illinoisan and proud progressive, I would walk through fire to vote for the Democratic opponent to Scott Walker if he were to be nominated by the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States if that’s what it took for me to get to the polls.

Sincerely,
Aaron Camp
Westville, Illinois

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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner tries to buy a secret political agenda, alienates potential Democratic allies

A couple of weeks before being sworn into office as Governor of Illinois earlier today, Republican Bruce Rauner and his ultra-wealthy political allies put $20 million of their own money, half of that coming from the new governor himself, towards an attempt at buying themselves an unstated political agenda that, more than likely, will benefit Rauner and his fellow rich people, if anyone at all, and screw over poor, working-class, and middle-class Illinoisans in more ways than one.

Aside from the fact that he’s trying to buy his own political agenda, there’s two major flaws with Rauner’s plan to buy a political agenda: he has given very few specifics on what his agenda will consist of, and he’s alienated Democratic allies that he would need in order to get his agenda enacted into law.

The first major flaw with Rauner’s scheme is that he’s given only a few generalizations of what his state budget proposal and other items of his agenda will look like. Regarding the state budget, Rauner has gone into very little detail on what his budget proposal will look like. During the gubernatorial campaign last year, Rauner refused to give even a general idea of what kind of budget he’d propose if elected governor. Additionally, Rauner campaigned on general platitudes of “shake up Springfield” and mostly ran against Democrats as a “candidate of no” throughout the campaign. I have a strong suspicion that Rauner is hiding a far-right political agenda that will alienate both Democrats and Republicans.

The second major flaw with Rauner’s scheme is that he’s alienated the Democratic allies in the General Assembly that he’d need in order to get whatever his agenda is enacted into law. Since Democrats have a narrow supermajority in the Illinois Senate and a slim supermajority in the Illinois House, Rauner would need a coalition of every or nearly every Republican state legislator and enough Democratic state legislators to get majority support for his agenda in both houses of the General Assembly, meaning that Rauner has very little, if any, room to alienate people. As it turns out, Rauner’s scheme has already alienated the kind of Democrats he’d need to get his agenda passed. Jack Franks, a Democratic state representative from Marengo who represents a state house district that, if I recall correctly, voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, blasted Rauner for trying to buy a political agenda, saying that many Democrats fell for Rauner’s vows to work with them until him and his rich buddies threw down $20 million to try to buy a political agenda. Since Franks is from a conservative constituency and was a vocal critic of the previous Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, on many issues, Franks is the kind of state legislator that Rauner would need on his side in order to get whatever his agenda is enacted.

I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Bruce Rauner’s first term as governor ends up being his last, since Rauner appears to have already made too many political enemies by trying to buy a secret political agenda with his money and the money of his ultra-rich pals.

Republican control of the U.S. Senate would be absolutely frightening

With the possibility of Republicans winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House looming over the November 4 elections, I want to remind everybody how frightening Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the U.S. House is.

Should Republicans win control of the Senate and retain control of the House, Republicans will probably pass a sweeping, Wisconsin-style far-right agenda, including legislation like:

  • Passing a nationwide right-to-work-for-less bill, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying union dues for collective bargaining (if not completely banning labor unions altogether)
  • Passing restrictions on abortion, contraception, and other women’s health procedures, up to and including attempting to propose a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, contraception, and many other women’s health procedures
  • Repealing the federal Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to implement voter suppression schemes
  • Repealing the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing many forms of racial discrimination
  • Eliminating Pell grants and other programs that help people pay for college, making it harder for young people to go to college
  • Completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who were recently uninsured
  • Eliminating regulations on banks and other financial institutions, making it easier for them to engage in risky practices that were the primary cause of the Great Recession
  • Allowing mining and drilling in National Parks and other federally-protected lands, destroying the value of our country’s natural wonders and hurting the tourism industry
  • Handing out tax cuts and other tax breaks to wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests, resulting in a bigger federal budget deficit and national debt (if not implementing a full-blown regressive taxation scheme by completely repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax, shifting the tax burden to poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans)
  • Completely repealing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, leaving millions of seniors without a source of income and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance
  • Eliminating all federal campaign finance restrictions, making it even easier for wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests to buy federal elections and have an even bigger undue influence over federal politicians
  • Repealing the federal minimum wage, putting millions of working Americans into poverty and driving millions more into even deeper poverty
  • Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and federal environmental regulations, allowing corporations to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink
  • Repealing federal laws mandating equal pay for equal work, allowing employers to discriminate against women by paying men more than women

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the right-wing legislation that a fully Republican-controlled Congress could pass. Don’t think for one second that people like Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins would oppose some or most of the far-right agenda just because they represent states/constituencies that usually vote for Democratic presidential candidates. The Ted Cruz-types in the Republican Party are going to demand that they pass as much far-right legislation as possible, and the so-called “moderates” in the GOP would go along with them every time and rubber stamp everything they do.

Should Republicans win control of the Senate, they will be hell bent on turning America into a third-world country. The only thing that would stop them from doing is President Barack Obama, who would likely veto nearly everything the Republicans pass. If you don’t want Republicans passing a destructive far-right agenda, go vote against the Republican bastards on November 4.

Instead of caving to the Tea Party, Democrats should be more like them

You might be reading that headline and thinking, “that’s a self-contradictory headline!”

Actually, it’s not a self-contradictory headline at all.

What I mean is that, instead of supporting parts of the Tea Party’s agenda like most establishment, moderate, corporate, centrist, and conservative Democrats do, Democrats should emulate the Tea Party’s no-compromise attitude toward politics while promoting a vastly different political agenda.

The Democratic Party should stand for restoring the American middle class (such as raising the minimum wage, granting workers more rights, repealing free-trade agreements, etc.), improving the quality of education (such as making college more affordable, eliminating charter schools and school voucher programs, eliminating standardized testing and anything tied to it, etc.), improving our country’s health care system (such as implementing a single-payer or public option health care system, etc.), isolationist foreign policy (such as opposing war unless the U.S. is directly attacked, not getting the U.S. involved in foreign policy except to protect U.S. interests, etc.), ending corporate welfare (such as eliminating tax breaks for business, creating national and state economic development banks, etc.), protecting and expanding the legal rights of the American people (such as making it easier to vote, protecting the reproductive rights of women, granting same-sex couples the right to marry, prohibiting warrantless spying on the American people, legalizing recreational marijuana, etc.), and making government less corrupt and more transparent (such as taking redistricting out of the hands of state legislators, making campaign finance laws more strict, etc.).

While there are many Democrats who stand for most of those ideals, there are also many Democrats who stand for only a few of those ideals. However, even the most progressive Democrats who run for public office will talk about bipartisanship and compromise at every opportunity. I find that to be downright annoying and, more importantly, out of touch with political reality. It is practically impossible to compromise with the Republican Party, which has been taken over by the far-right Tea Party, these days, except for maybe one or two issues. Instead of trying to compromise with a group of people that one can’t compromise with, Democrats should emulate the Tea Party’s no-compromise attitude to politics while pushing to implement a progressive, pro-middle class, pro-woman, pro-worker, pro-democracy, and pro-America agenda that will make America a far better place to live.