Tag: professor

For Democrats, winning over rural voters isn’t as simple as talking to a few rural people

For a number of years, Kathy Cramer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been studying rural resentment towards Democrats and political elites, and seems to be one of only a handful of people who understand why Democrats are so awful at winning over rural voters in Wisconsin.

Recently, Cramer studied Donald Trump’s appeal to rural voters in Wisconsin, and you can read her findings at the end of this article by Jessie Opoien (last name pronounced oh-POY-en) of the Madison-based newspaper The Cap Times. Another thing that I enjoyed reading about in the article is Cramer’s epic response to a person who volunteered for the failed Hillary Clinton presidential campaign:

After Cramer presented her findings, a woman in the audience who said she had volunteered in Madison on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign asked Cramer what advice she would give Democrats on how to talk to the people in rural areas who voted for Trump.

“It’s not speaking to people,” Cramer said. “It will require just spending time with people and asking them, ‘What’s on your mind?’ for months — then trying to deliver a message.”

If winning over rural voters was a simple as talking to a few rural voters here and there, we’d still have Pat Quinn as governor here in Illinois. Obviously, that’s not the case. For Democrats to win over rural voters across the country, Democrats are going to start needing to emphasize agricultural policy proposals designed to give farmers a fair price for their crops and find other ways to connect with rural voters without alienating the progressive urban base of the party. Even better, Democrats should try to use rural resentment to their advantage by trying to paint Republicans as the party of urban and suburban political elites.

While there are several candidates that political insiders have floated as potential Democratic candidates for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018 (such as State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Former State Senator Tim Cullen, U.S. Representative Ron Kind, State Representative Dana Wachs, and Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, just to name a few), I’ve wondered for some time whether or not Kathy Cramer would be a good candidate for a statewide race in Wisconsin, such as governor or lieutenant governor. Given that she seems to know how Democrats can win over rural voters (or at least enough rural voters to win a statewide race in states like Wisconsin), I think that she could be a great candidate for a statewide race in Wisconsin. However, I highly doubt that Cramer would even consider the idea of running for public office.

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Sara Goldrick-Rab, a leader in the fight for higher ed affordability, makes the POLITICO 50

There are two kinds of political activists: those who dedicate their time to a worthy political cause, and those who are absolutely awesome at it. One of those people who are absolutely awesome at advocating for a worthy political cause is Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the author of the book Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream.

Goldrick-Rab is not just a professor and an author about the high cost of higher education in this country. She’s also a staunch advocate for ideas to make higher education affordable in America, and, for her advocacy, she’s earned a spot in this year’s POLITICO 50, a list of more than 50 of the most politically influential people and institutions in America published by POLITICO Magazine. Here’s what POLITICO Magazine wrote about Goldrick-Rab’s work:

Clinton’s plan, however, was neither the highest-profile nor most radical. It was Bernie Sanders who campaigned on the issue most vocally during the primaries, pushing not just debt-free college but universal free tuition for public higher education. That idea has roots in the work of Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. In 2014, Goldrick-Rab proposed a “free two-year college option” that would cover tuition at public universities, as well as some living expenses. The plan drew on her study of more than 3,000 students receiving federal aid and Pell Grants in Wisconsin, which revealed that those students were still crippled by living costs.

I’ve never met Sara Goldrick-Rab in person, but, as someone who is an online friend of Goldrick-Rab (I follow her on Twitter), she is an absolutely awesome person who truly cares about . I’m proud of her.

You can view Goldrick-Rab’s website here and view her Twitter page here.

The First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

For the first time ever, this blog will be awarding end-of-the-year awards to several individuals who I consider to be effective at advancing progressive causes during the year, regardless of whether or not one meets the typical criteria of being politically progressive or not. This is the first annual awarding of the Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015. All ProgMid Award winners for this year and years in the future are automatically inducted into the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner.

The award categories for the first ProgMid Awards are as follows:

  • Person of the Year
  • Man of the Year
  • Woman of the Year
  • American of the Year
  • International Person of the Year
  • Group of the Year
  • Athlete of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Activist of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Young Person of the Year

There are two important notes regarding the awards:

  • Many award recipients will receive multiple awards. For example, if the Person of the Year in a given year is a female athlete from Canada, she would win Person of the Year, Woman of the Year, International Person of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.
  • Should multiple people or a group of people win award(s) other than Group of the Year, the plural form of the name(s) of the other award(s) will be used (People, Men, Women, Americans, International People, Athletes, Bloggers, Activists, Elected Officials, Entertainers, and/or Young People).

With that said, I hereby present the First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015!

Person of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Person of the Year is the only open ProgMid Award category.

No person has made a bigger impact on advancing progressive causes in the year 2015 than Bernie Sanders. Bernie, the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont, is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 elections, and he has made improving America’s economy a key part of his campaign. Bernie has publicly championed raising the U.S. minimum wage to $15/hour, guaranteeing paid family leave, making college in America truly affordable, breaking up large financial institutions, and many other progressive ideals. Bernie is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2015.

Man of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Men are eligible for the Man of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is male, Bernie is also the ProgMid Man of the Year for 2015.

Woman of the Year – Rachel Notley

Women are eligible for the Woman of the Year Award.

In Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democratic Party to a landslide victory in the Alberta legislative general election in May of 2015, and, as a result of the election, Notley became Premier of Alberta. Notley and her party ran on a progressive platform that championed good government, Alberta’s environment, economic justice, and common sense, and they won in a very conservative part of Canada. Notley is the ProgMid Woman of the Year for 2015.

American of the Year – Bernie Sanders

In order for one to be eligible for the American of the Year Award, one must be a United States citizen, United States national, resident of the United States, or some combination thereof.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an American, Bernie is also the ProgMid American of the Year for 2015.

International Person of the Year – Rachel Notley

Those who are not eligible for the American of the Year Award are eligible for the International Person of the Year Award.

Since the Woman of the Year, Rachel Notley, is a Canadian, Notley is also the ProgMid International Person of the Year for 2015.

Group of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Group of the Year Award is the only ProgMid Award that is required to be awarded to a group of people.

In response to racism, police brutality, and police shootings of black people in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of progressive activists seeking reform of the criminal justice system and increased accountability of law enforcement in America, has brought the issues of criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability to the forefront of American politics. Black Lives Matter is the ProgMid Group of the Year for 2015.

Athlete of the Year – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Professional athletes and individuals primarily known for being amateur athletes (including, but not limited to, collegiate athletes and amateur Olympic athletes) are eligible for the Athlete of the Year Award.

Although one would usually not think of a NASCAR driver as advancing a progressive cause, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played an important role in building public support for taking down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When asked about his thoughts about the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. called the Confederate flag “offensive to an entire race” and said that the Confederate flag “belongs in the history books, and that’s about it”. For his condemnation of the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Blogger of the Year – Kelly Wilz

Those who are an administrator of, editor of, author of, and/or contributor to a blog are eligible for the Blogger of the Year Award.

One of the newest members of the progressive blogosphere is Kelly Wilz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. Wilz is also the author of the progressive political blog Dissent and Cookies, which launched in May of 2015. As a blogger, Wilz has primarily focused on ending rape culture in America and supporting tenure protections for college professors, both of which are very important causes. Wilz is the 2015 ProgMid Blogger of the Year.

Activists of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

Those who are largely or primarily known for being a political activist are eligible for the Activist of the Year Award.

Since the Group of the Year, the Black Lives Matter movement, is a group of political activists, members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also the 2015 ProgMid Activists of the Year.

Elected Official of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Those who were a public official elected either directly by the people or elected by a body elected by the people (such as the U.S. Electoral College) at any point in the year in which the award is given are eligible for the Elected Official of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an incumbent elected official, Bernie is also the 2015 ProgMid Elected Official of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year – Jon Stewart

Those who are entertainers (actors/actresses, comedians/comediennes, musicians, sports announcers, radio show hosts, television show hosts, etc.) are eligible for the Entertainer of the Year Award.

While Jon Stewart left the anchor desk of the Comedy Central news satire program The Daily Show in August of this year, Stewart has not abandoned the first responders who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stewart passionately advocated for, and won, renewal of federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders. Stewart is the 2015 ProgMid Entertainer of the Year.

Young Person of the Year – Keanan Sargent

In order to be eligible for the Young Person of the Year Award, one must be less than 18 years of age on December 31 of the year in which the award is given.

At an August 2015 LGBT pride parade and rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Keanan Sargent, the then-nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent, did something incredibly creative when confronted by homophobia. Keanan used balloons to obscure a sign that anti-LGBT protesters were displaying at the pride parade and rally. For his creativity and progressive values, Keanan Sargent is the 2015 ProgMid Young Person of the Year.

Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for the University of Illinois’s war on academic freedom

It’s been recently announced that the University of Illinois (U of I) reached a legal settlement with Stephen Saliata, who had a job offer revoked by the U of I because he tweeted his personal opinion about far-right Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of peace in the Middle East.

Last year, Saliata was offered a tenured professorship at the U of I. After the U of I received backlash from students, alumni, and donors who are to the Netanyahu regime in Israel than they are to America, the U of I pulled their offer of a tenured professorship from Saliata. Saliata rightfully sued the U of I for infringing on his First Amendment right to free speech and infringing upon academic freedom, and the lawsuit has now been settled, but not before the U of I is legally bound to pay out a total of $875,000, $600,000 of which will go to Saliata himself, and $275,000 of which will go to Saliata’s attorneys.

In short, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for the U of I’s war on academic freedom and caving to pro-Israel interests. Had the U of I actually hired Steven Saliata, it would have cost Illinois taxpayers less than what it cost to settle the lawsuit over not hiring him for political reasons.

An Arkansas pastor speaks the truth about conservatives and their un-Christian ways

Melanie Tubbs, a college professor and Christian pastor from rural Arkansas, wrote this piece a little more than a month ago on the progressive website Liberal America about how conservatives in this country, while promoting their Christian faith at every opportunity, act in a very un-Christian manner. The piece is certainly a must-read, even if you’re not of any kind of Christian faith (I’m an atheist, and I’ve read the piece).

Here’s a couple of points that Pastor Tubbs made in her piece:

I live my life for God, but I do not think God belongs in our Constitution. Separation of church and state; It’s a thing. Look it up.

[…]

Consenting adults have a constitutional right to get a government document certifying their legal marriage. The 14th amendment guarantees it. Not only that, marriage is love, what this country is needing to combat the hate and violence we are infected with. Love and marriage are not what we should be focusing on. Starving children, mass shootings, immoral lobbying, planet destroying, violence, and hate, those are our problems.

I strongly encourage other progressive-minded people in Republican strongholds to speak out about their values. There are many progressive-minded people in this country, even in the strongest of right-wing strongholds.

PRE-ENDORSEMENT: Daniel Biss for Comptroller of Illinois

Daniel Biss, a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate from Evanston, is currently planning to run in next year’s special election for Comptroller of Illinois. I proudly pre-endorse Biss for the Democratic nomination in the comptroller’s race.

Biss is a mathematician, not a politician. Prior to being elected to the Illinois Senate, Biss was a mathematics professor at the University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the entire country. Given that the Illinois Comptroller’s office is responsible for maintaining the state’s financial accounts, this means that Biss has a skills set that fit very well with the duties of the comptroller’s office, which is something we haven’t seen out of a major-party candidate for comptroller here in Illinois in a very long time, if ever.

Biss has at least one primary opponent, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, and it’s possible that others may run for the Democratic nomination. Mendoza is a political crony of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; in fact, Mendoza was a campaign co-chair for Rahm’s most recent mayoral campaign, which was supported by far-right Republicans like Mark Kirk and Ken Griffin. Illinois cannot afford more of Rahm’s corrupt, corporate, privatization-supporting, and progressive-bashing cronies in office. Regarding Mendoza herself, she has a habit of claiming endorsements that she hasn’t actually received, which is what I consider to be a form of blatant dishonesty.

I encourage Illinois voters to vote in the Democratic primary for Daniel Biss for comptroller.

Cool invention: A new kind of water quality monitoring device

Eric Compas, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and his wife, Lori Compas, have developed Current, a water quality data gathering device that the Compases bill as less expensive and easier to use than other types of water monitoring devices designed for use in lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water that are currently on the market:

While Eric is the only one who speaks on camera, it sounds to me that the narrator whose voice is heard at the beginning and end of the video is Lori, but I’ve not been able to confirm that. Additionally, where Eric is clearly the primary inventor of the device, both Eric and Lori have been actively involved with its development, so I’m going to credit both of them for their invention.

The Compases have recognized three main problems that they see with current water quality monitoring devices: First, water quality monitoring devices currently on the market are overly expensive. Second, the data that water quality monitoring devices currently on the market provide are not easy for even some experts to interpret. Third, with water quality monitoring devices currently on the market, it takes a lot of effort to gather data.

With Current, water quality data can be gathered from a canoe, kayak, or other similar type of boat, or, alternatively, from a fixed location in a body of water. A mobile phone app is used to guide the user of the device through the data-gathering process and upload the data to a server. Current maintains a cloud service that people can subscribe to and access data that has been gathered by users of the device, state government agencies, and federal government agencies. The data also includes maps and charts that illustrate the water quality data gathered.

I hope that this new water quality data gathering device is used widely and makes it easier to monitor the quality of the sources of water that we use to drink, bathe with, swim in, clean with, and so on. More importantly, I’d love to see federal, state, and local government agencies start using this device on a large scale, especially if it saves taxpayers money and makes it easier for public officials and the general public to understand water quality better.

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!