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Wed Jul 18, 2018, 09:39 AM


We we were the blueprint for Trump's America..How Conservatives Bet Big on Wisconsin and Won

For almost a decade we have had to listen to folks on blogs castigating us "What the hell is wrong with you guys in Wisconsin? You deserve what you get." No, No, we don't, anymore than all of us don't deserve Trump and 2018 Republicans. Please Read and learn.....

How Conservatives Bet Big on Wisconsin and Won Dan Kaufman

Hardcore conservatives adore infrastructure, and they’re phenomenally good at building it. This isn’t to say they’re necessarily committed to constructing roads and bridges and dams; it’s the infrastructure of their own movement — the one that has helped Republican politicians seize power in state legislatures over the past decade — that inspires their real dedication.

Their efforts have been chronicled in books like Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money” and Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy in Chains.” A conservative donor class, seeking to protect its agenda from the uncertainties of a democratic system, has erected a scaffolding of legislative groups and gerrymandered districts with the care and diligence of a structural engineer.

For progressives, Wisconsin has been a demoralizing case in point. In “The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics,” the Brooklyn-based journalist and Wisconsin native Dan Kaufman shows how the state became a conservative test case. As the head of the right-wing, Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation told him, “Wisconsin is a laboratory for the rest of the country.”

The state, which Barack Obama carried over John McCain by 14 points in 2008, was supposed to be part of Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall” in the 2016 election. It instead went to Donald J. Trump, pushing him past the number of Electoral College votes he needed to win the presidency.

As Kaufman makes clear, though, the notion that Wisconsin in 2016 was some sort of Democratic stronghold showed just how complacent Clinton and the liberal establishment had become. Trump, sensing an opportunity, made an aggressive play for the state. Clinton, in stark contrast, sent surrogates instead of showing up herself. Kaufman describes her as not just out of touch but quite literally not there.

True, Wisconsin was long known for its progressive traditions; in the early 20th century, its state legislature established the nation’s first workers’ compensation program and a progressive state income tax, among other measures. The Scandinavian farmers who settled there in the 1800s had brought with them a communitarian mind-set born of necessity. The Swedish word folkhemmet, or “the people’s home,” became an affectionate nickname for the welfare state.

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The Wisconsin Idea, as it became known, was a pragmatic philosophy, wary of revolution but also deeply suspicious of laissez-faire capitalism. In an 1873 commencement speech, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court warned of the “new and dark power” emerging in the Gilded Age: “Which shall rule — wealth or man; which shall lead — money or intellect; who shall fill public stations — educated and patriotic freemen, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?”

Whenever you encounter soaring words like these in a book with the word “fall” in the title, brace yourself for a crash landing. Kaufman invites us to contrast a century of progressivism with what happened after 1976, when the United States Supreme Court outlawed limits on campaign spending.

This was also around the time that a 10-year-old Scott Walker moved with his family to Delavan, Wis., from Iowa. A decade later, as a mediocre student at Marquette University, Walker was candid about his grand political ambitions, telling one of his classmates, “God has told me I’m chosen to cut taxes and stop killing babies.”

Walker appears in Mayer’s “Dark Money” as a “college dropout with no exceptional charisma or charm” who coasted to victory in Wisconsin’s 2010 gubernatorial election, after wealthy conservative backers identified him as a Tea Party politician with a simpatico ideology. As Kaufman details, Walker has given his donors a spectacular return on their investment, gutting collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions (exempting firefighters and police officers, who had supported his campaign) and slashing taxes by $8 billion.

Walker even paid lip service to his state’s past by calling one of his early pieces of legislation — the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, also know as Act 10 — “progressive.” But the tax cuts he enacted were so extreme that they inflated the state’s deficit to $2 billion. Kaufman describes 2011 and 2012 as a pivotal moment in Wisconsin’s political transformation, when widespread protests culminated in a recall election against Walker — which the governor survived.

Conservatives also recognized the powerful symbolism of making the industrial Midwest hostile to organized labor, and planned accordingly. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin,” the billionaire industrialist David Koch told a reporter in early 2012. “We’re going to spend more.” Meanwhile, President Obama, Kaufman writes, “declined to make even a brief stop in Wisconsin to campaign for Walker’s opponent, Tom Barrett, despite Barrett’s plea for help.”

You can sense Kaufman’s mounting outrage, even if he’s quiet about it. His prose is somber and subdued. The most incensed he gets is in an earnest paragraph about Hillary Clinton and her “negligence of Wisconsin,” in which any bile could pass as indigestion.

Maybe such understatement testifies to the author’s bona fides as a native son. During the 2011 demonstrations, he wrote a dispatch for The New Yorker that mentioned a quintessentially Wisconsinite protest sign: “Let’s Be Reasonable. Hyperbole Hurts Everyone’s Cause.”

If anything, Kaufman argues, Wisconsin’s historical penchant for balance and moderation shows how extreme the conservative movement has become. (He only mentions Sen. Joseph McCarthy once, in passing; if Kaufman viewed him as an extraordinary aberration, he could have spent at least a paragraph or two making his case.) In addition to having been hospitable to labor, Wisconsin was also home to a real tradition of environmental stewardship, regardless of party affiliation. That changed too, as jobs were lost to free trade and extractive industries like mining promised to replace them. Native American elders have been pleading with Walker to renounce short-term thinking and commit to acting like the “true conservatives” who value ecological conservation, generally to no avail.

Kaufman finds some hope in the insurgent Democratic candidacy of Randy Bryce, a former ironworker and union activist, who ran to unseat Republican Speaker Paul Ryan from Wisconsin’s First Congressional District. (Ryan has since surprised voters by announcing he would retire.) But Kaufman fears that some of Wisconsin’s progressive traditions have already been crushed beyond repair.

Clean air, clean water, good schools: The public infrastructure that was considered common sense for Wisconsinites has been attacked by the right as if it were a red menace — or, in today’s vernacular, the rarefied purview of urban elites. Kaufman believes that Wisconsin’s extreme makeover portends something scary for the rest of us. “If conservatives cannot tolerate a state that offers what Wisconsin once did,” he writes, “what kind of future is there for the American citizen?”

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Reply We we were the blueprint for Trump's America..How Conservatives Bet Big on Wisconsin and Won (Original post)
jodymarie aimee Jul 2018 OP
rurallib Jul 2018 #1
jodymarie aimee Jul 2018 #2
hedda_foil Jul 2018 #3
TheRealNorth Jul 2018 #4

Response to jodymarie aimee (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 09:59 AM

1. link to the source, please

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Response to rurallib (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:04 AM

2. NY Times


review/excerpt of Dan's book...

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Response to rurallib (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:14 AM

3. Links please?

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Response to jodymarie aimee (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:19 AM

4. And they're coming for Minnesota next

When I am on DU, I see a lot of pro-Republican ads for MN Republicans trying to act like Dems.

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