Tag: University of Wisconsin

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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It’s a national tragedy that many of America’s college students are homeless

Earlier this month, Glamour magazine posted an article to their website about a subject that, while most people wouldn’t find to be exactly glamorous, is a very serious issue facing our country: homelessness in higher education. You’d have to read the entire article, which you can view here, to truly understand how serious of an issue homelessness in higher education is.

The article is about Brooke Evans, a formerly homeless student at University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) who helped start a food pantry for students at UW-Madison. In addition to her efforts to start a food pantry for her fellow students, Evans has advocated for, among other things, requiring college and university cafeterias to accept food stamps and offering free mailboxes to students at her university who don’t have a postal address. Evans has gone above and beyond in her efforts to advocate for improving the lives of college and university students in America.

Evans isn’t the only college student in this country who has been homeless while in college. In fact, federal statistics has shown that over 59,000 applicants for federal student aid last year reported being homeless, and homelessness among college students in America is on the rise. There are a perfect storm of circumstances contributing to an increase in college homelessness, most notably that an increasing number of students from low-income households are attending college, that a college or university education of some kind is needed for virtually every good-paying job in the United States nowadays, and, most importantly, that tuition and other college-related expenses have risen dramatically in recent decades.

I admire Brooke Evans’s advocacy for homeless and poor college students. We really need a lot more people like her to stand up for our country’s most vulnerable and forgotten-about people.

Scott Walker’s barbaric budget eliminates the Wisconsin Idea and forces UW System faculty to work without pay starting in mid-2016

Wisconsin Governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker’s barbaric budget includes, among other things, the destruction of the University of Wisconsin System (UW System), Wisconsin’s network of two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

First off, the third Walker budget includes a provision that would eliminate the search for truth, which is effectively the current primary mission of the UW System, and the Wisconsin Idea, which outlines the mission of the UW System to serve the people of Wisconsin, from the UW System’s mission statement and would replace it with a mission statement that effectively makes serving Big Business interests the UW System’s primary mission. While Walker has tried to claim that the budget provision removing truth and the Wisconsin Idea from the mission statement is a “drafting error”, I think Walker’s claim is hogwash for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve made plenty of drafting errors as a political blogger, but I’ve never managed to rewrite the entire mission statement of a state college or university system in one of my drafting errors. Two, I firmly believe that Walker included that provision simply to pander to the far-right Tea Party crowd in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which hold early contests for the Republican presidential nomination, only to backtrack from it after he submitted the proposal to the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature and Walker got questioned by the media over it.

Secondly, there’s something very unusual in Walker’s budget proposal:

If you look at the “FY17 Recommended” column in the “Full-Time Equivalent Position Summary”, you’ll notice that not a single penny is appropriated to full-time faculty member salaries. If Walker’s budget were to be enacted in its current form, starting in July of 2016, when Wisconsin State Fiscal Year 2017 begins, professors and other full-time faculty members at UW System colleges and universities would be required to work without pay. While most college professors work because they love teaching higher education and conducting research in order to make their communities, state, and country a better place to live, I’m almost certain that very few, if any, college professors would work without any pay at all, even though most college professors are interested in doing much more than earning a paycheck. Forcing UW System college professors to work without pay would significantly hurt Wisconsin’s economy, especially areas of Wisconsin in or near a UW System institution, and is, to put it mildly, absolutely cruel. Walker has yet to give one of his absurd explanations for eliminating UW System full-time salaries in his latest state budget.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how barbaric Scott Walker’s latest Wisconsin budget proposal is. As a Illinois resident, the thought of Walker being anywhere near the White House gives me nightmares.