Tag: liberals

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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The Wisconsin GOP’s court-packing scheme is straight out of the FDR playbook…this time, there’s no valid reason for it whatsoever

During the midst of the Great Depression, then-Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stymied by a conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court that struck down many of FDR’s New Deal programs. On February 5, 1937, FDR unveiled a court-packing scheme, titled the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, that, in part, would have allowed FDR to pack the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) by appointing either six new justices or a number of new justices equal to the number of current justices who were older than 70 1/2 years of age, whichever was lesser, which would have resulted in a SCOTUS bench consisting of up to 15 members and, more than likely, a solid pro-New Deal majority. Nearly two months after FDR’s court-packing plan was unveiled, then-SCOTUS Associate Justice Owen Roberts, the usual swing vote on the New Deal-era SCOTUS who had previously sided with the “Four Horsemen”, as the anti-New Deal justices were known as, sided with the pro-New Deal justices in a 5-4 decision upholding the State of Washington’s minimum wage law. That decision also effectively ended any chance of FDR’s court-packing scheme from becoming law and kept the SCOTUS bench at nine members, which it remains today.

Nearly eight decades after FDR’s federal court-packing scheme failed, Wisconsin Republicans are attempting to pack the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWI) with conservative justices. However, the Republicans in Wisconsin are not trying to increase the number of justices on the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court (currently seven), and they aren’t stymied by liberal justices who are using the court to block Republican Governor Scott Walker’s far-right political agenda (in fact, Walker’s conservative allies have a solid majority on the court and have rubber-stamped every part of Walker’s agenda that has come before the court, including the union-busting Act 10 law). Instead, they’re “stymied” (note the quotation marks) by SCOWI Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is a liberal chief justice on a conservative-controlled court by virtue of being the most senior member of the court, and their efforts to pack Wisconsin’s highest court so that all seven spots on the SCOWI bench are held by far-right justices is a three-pronged effort:

  1. Enact a state constitutional amendment that would allow SCOWI justices to elect their own chief justice, which, if enacted, would result in one of the conservative justices, probably Patience Roggensack, becoming chief justice. This amendment will go before Wisconsin voters on April 7, and “yes” votes from a majority of voters would be required to ratify the amendment and effectively remove Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on the SCOWI bench. I’ve endorsed a “no” vote on this amendment.
  2. Enact a state law that would set a mandatory retirement age of 70 years for state judges in Wisconsin. This would automatically remove Abrahamson, as well as Patrick Crooks, the lone moderate on the SCOWI bench, from the bench entirely, and their replacements would be appointed by Walker, who would appoint far-right justices to replace Abrahamson and Crooks on the bench. Given that Republicans control both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature, and Walker would almost certainly sign a judicial mandatory retirement bill into law, it’s not a matter of if a judicial mandatory retirement bill will be enacted, but when it will enacted.
  3. Defeat liberal SCOWI justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the other of the three justices who usually side against Walker and his cohorts on the SCOWI bench, in this year’s state supreme court election. Conservatives are running James Daley, a Rock County circuit court judge, against Bradley, however, Daley is not a strong candidate, having repeatedly flip-flopped on the proposed chief justice amendment that will be on the ballot at the same time he is, so there’s a good chance that Bradley could win re-election.

The proposed Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice amendment is about more than simply removing Shirley Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on Wisconsin’s highest court. It’s the first prong of Wisconsin Republicans’ three-prong court-packing scheme designed to completely remove liberals and moderates from Wisconsin’s highest court and replace them with right-wing extremists who will rubber-stamp Scott Walker’s destructive agenda and oppose all efforts by Wisconsin Democrats to implement progressive policies designed to make Wisconsin a better place to live if and when Democrats regain control of the governor’s office and/or the state legislature. Wisconsinites can oppose the first and third prongs of the GOP’s court-packing scheme by voting for Ann Walsh Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court and voting “no” on the chief justice amendment on April 7, which will send a strong message to the Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government that they won’t support the second prong of their court-packing scheme. The state court-packing scheme that Republicans are trying to implement in Wisconsin is even more ridiculous than FDR’s federal court-packing scheme that he proposed nearly eight decades ago.

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.