Tag: liberal

As a progressive in a conservative region of Illinois, I can relate to people like these

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post includes a blockquote from a book titled Blue in a Red State: The Survival Guide to Life in the Real America, written by Justin Krebs. The blockquote comes from an excerpt of the book published on the Salon magazine website, as I do not have the actual book in question.


As someone who lives in a conservative region of Illinois (specifically, Vermilion County, Illinois, located in the east-central part of the state), I can relate to this:

Lisa in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has two Facebook accounts. One reflects her liberal politics; the other is for acquaintances and family members to whom Lisa shows only her cat photos. Christina, in Milford, Massachusetts, has a sign in the back window of her car proclaiming support for a Democratic candidate. But as soon as she parks in the company lot, she puts it facedown on the backseat. Byron has lived in the same small town of Pomeroy, Iowa—population 662—his entire life. He brings his partner to family dinners but has never actually said to his conservative sister that he’s gay.

Lisa, Christina, and Byron are “blues in red states”—liberals who live in conservative communities that exist in every state, Republican or Democratic-leaning, across America. They and people like them are constantly reminded they aren’t quite like everyone else: from the churches they do or don’t attend, to their purchases and media preferences, to their loyalties at the ballot box. On a daily basis, liberals who have made homes, formed friendships, and participated in the civic life of conservative towns and cities are confronted with unsettling reminders that they’re different, and they’ve found myriad ways to take that truth in stride.

Although Massachusetts, Iowa, and Wisconsin aren’t exactly “red states” (MA is a blue state with a Republican governor, and IA and WI are presidential swing states with Republican governors), all three of the people featured in the above paragraphs live in areas of their states that are more conservative than the state as a whole.

For someone who is very vocal about politics online, I almost never talk about politics when I’m away from my house. In fact, I blend in surprisingly well with other people in my community, as virtually nobody outside of my immediate relatives (mostly Democrats who are not as progressive as I am) know about my political views. In fact, virtually nobody in my community knows that I’m an atheist, and that’s because I never talk about that outside of online to a receptive audience.

In fact, regarding Lisa from Waukesha, Wisconsin, I’m actually an online friend of hers, believe it or not. There’s not too many people I’m comfortable communicating with (either in person or online), but I’m more than comfortable talking with Lisa online. I don’t agree with Lisa 100% of the time (although I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time and I agree with Lisa more often than not), but Lisa is far more understanding of opposing viewpoints than me or most other people.

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JoAnn Kloppenburg is running for Wisconsin Supreme Court once again

You may remember Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge JoAnn Kloppenburg, then a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General, from the contentious 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court race, where she narrowly lost to conservative incumbent David “The Choker” Prosser by a few thousand votes in a race that featured an infamous vote-counting snafu in Waukesha County, the most populous right-wing stronghold in Wisconsin.

Well, she’s back! Kloppenburg is making another run for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This time, she’s running for the seat currently held by incumbent justice Patrick Crooks, who is the lone moderate on Wisconsin’s highest bench. Here’s her campaign announcement video.

There are going to be three main differences between Kloppenburg’s 2011 campaign and her 2016 campaign:

  • In 2011, Kloppenburg ran against David Prosser, an ultra-conservative state supreme court justice who is a controversial figure in Wisconsin politics. This time, she’s running for the seat currently held by Patrick Crooks, who, while technically a Republican, has generally sided against the conservative majority on the constitutional crisis involving the Wisconsin Constitution amendment that gives the justices on Wisconsin’s highest bench to power to vote for one of their own to be chief justice. The amendment is currently subject to an ongoing lawsuit involving a dispute over when the amendment is supposed to go into effect. It’s not clear as to whether or not Crooks will run for re-election at this time, and Crooks’s campaign has not commented on Kloppenburg entering the race that I’m aware of.
  • In 2011, due to the union-busting Act 10 having been enacted not too long before the supreme court race that year, there was far higher turnout than what would normally be seen for a state supreme court race in Wisconsin. This year, turnout is probably going to be either at the level of what would be expected for a supreme court race in Wisconsin (typically about one-third of that of a midterm election in Wisconsin) or somewhat higher, depending on whether or not one or both major parties has a serious nomination contest for president ongoing by April of next year. I’m guessing that the 2016 presidential primaries in Wisconsin will be held in April, although the Republicans who control Wisconsin’s state government may move the primaries up to February to try to give Scott Walker a better chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, but there’s nothing confirmed about that at this time.
  • Kloppenburg’s potential opponents include incumbent justice Patrick Crooks, Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge Joe Donald, Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge Rebecca Bradley, and Former Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. I know very little about Donald, other than the fact that he was originally appointed to the Milwaukee County bench by Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, and the fact he’s been praised by Ed Fallone, the Marquette University professor who ran for state supreme court in 2013 on a progressive message and platform (losing to conservative incumbent Pat Roggensack, who is now the acting chief justice of the court pending the lawsuit regarding the chief justice amendment that I explained above). Van Hollen and Bradley are right-wing judicial activists, especially Bradley, who has known ties to far-right judicial activist groups like the Federalist Society and has donated money to Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns. Donald is all but certain to run; I’m not sure if Van Hollen and/or Bradley are interested in running or not.

I am not endorsing a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court at this time, but I may do so at some point before the spring 2016 elections in Wisconsin.

Penn State Professor Sophia McClennen delivers brilliant response to Rush Limbaugh smear attack

Sophia McClennen, a professor at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), wrote this piece for Salon magazine, in which Professor McClennen talked about how Steven Colbert’s style of comedy during his tenure as host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report brilliantly mocked conservatives who (figuratively) wrap themselves in the American flag by constantly talking about their patriotism.

Obviously, Rush Limbaugh, a right-wing misogynistic talk radio shock jock who is best-known for his infamous remarks in which he called attorney and women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke a “slut” on his nationally-syndicated radio program The Rush Limbaugh Show, was not happy after reading Professor McClennen’s column, so he called her a “professorette” on his radio program and whined about how he couldn’t “escape these professors and these lies and all this crap that’s in the media about everything that’s so-called wrong with America”.

Professor McClennen wrote a pair of responses to Limbaugh’s sexist smear attack against her at Salon magazine and at the progressive website DailyKos. In her DailyKos diary, Professor McClennen called out Limbaugh for claiming to love America but hate a majority of American citizens:

This leads to another persistent flaw in Limbaugh logic: How can you claim to love your country, yet hate so many of its citizens? It turns out that people of color, women and folks who vote with the “Democrat Party” are all part of the very same nation that Limbaugh professes to love. And yet, he seems to have a never-ending ability to spit bile at his fellow citizens, constantly hurling invectives at those with whom he disagrees. Professorette? (His term for me.) Infobabe? Feminazi? And we can’t forget Limbaugh’s treatment of Sandra Fluke. […]

I want to make three points about this.

First, Professor McClennen’s piece about Colbert’s character on The Colbert Report is certainly not a pack of lies and crap about everything that’s wrong with America. It’s a factual and very informative piece about how Colbert parodied right-wing talking heads like Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others in the corporate media in order to gain a large following among the left in this country and how Colbert fought to redefine what patriotism means in this country.

Second, for Limbaugh to publicly call Professor McClennen a “professorette” is flagrantly sexist. “Professor” is a gender-neutral term, and for Limbaugh to use the term “professorette” to describe a female college professor implies that female college professors are somehow inferior to male college professors, which, at least in my experience, is certainly not the case. I attended a small junior college in the east central part of Illinois on a part-time basis for a few years before dropping out, and, even though my college experience was horrible (mostly because I wasn’t interested in attending college at all), every professor who taught one or more courses I took, regardless of whether it was taught by a man or a woman, taught their courses exceptionally well.

Third, as someone who is a left-wing nationalist and damn proud of both America and my progressive political views, I believe in a different kind of patriotism than right-wing talking heads like Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, and so on do. Right-wingers in this country believe in the “wrap-self-in-the-flag” kind of patriotism, in which they talk about how great America is while they support policies that are turning America into a third-world country, such as free trade agreements like NAFTA, deregulation of the banking industry, and cuts in government spending on things like education and social safety net programs. On the other hand, I believe in a kind of patriotism simply known as making America exceptional. I believe in raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting and expanding the social safety net, providing affordable health care to the American people, providing a better public education system for future generations, repealing free trade agreements, protecting the American economy, protecting and enacting regulations to protect workers, consumers, and the environment, raising the minimum wage, granting equal rights to all Americans, ensuring that all American citizens who are of age are able to vote in free and fair elections, and protecting the civil liberties of the American people, among other things. I don’t believe in all of that because I hate America, I believe in that because I love America and want to make this country an exceptional place to live!

The Progressive Midwesterner’s 2014 Person of the Year: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I promised you that I would pick someone very notorious to be The Progressive Midwesterner’s 2014 Person of the Year.

Well, I’m proud to announce that my 2014 Person of the Year is…Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg, widely thought of as the most liberal of the nine justices on the conservative-controlled Supreme Court, has earned a loyal following among progressives, feminists, and reproductive rights supporters after the conservative majority on the court ruled that businesses owned by people who want to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of their employees, such as the arts and crafts store chain Hobby Lobby, could deny their employees health insurance coverage of contraception, even if they have a medical need for it. Ginsburg, in her dissenting opinion of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, blasted the court’s conservative majority for allowing employers to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of their employees:

The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations. […] The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

Ginsburg earned such a loyal following among progressives, feminists, and reproductive rights supporters in this country after her blistering dissent of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, she became known as The Notorious RBG, and “join the dissent” became a rallying cry for supporters of women’s rights.

For bravely standing up to a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that has dismantled religious freedom and has tried to take reproductive rights away from women, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned my 2014 Person of the Year award.