The second annual Bob Fest was held at Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, Chippewa Falls, Wis-consin. Ed Garvey started the original FightingBobFest in Baraboo over ten years ago. It was movedto Madison a few years ago to accommodate the thousands of people who attend. So now there are twoBobFests in Wisconsin, one in spring in Chippewa Falls and the other in fall in Madison.
It brings today’s best progressive speakers to the Midwest to inspire local people to speak and act oncritical problems that endanger our democracy. It is a perfect place to remember Fighting Bob LaFol-lette who liked to speak at fairgrounds and parks around the state. During this time in Wisconsin poli-tics, the need for clarity about how money influences elections, campaigns and government is greater than ever.
There is so much I could tell you about the day. In the interest of space, I will give highlights. Timeand again the speakers emphasized that this election is far bigger than Democrats versus Republicans.This is wealth and powerful corporations versus the people.
Dana Schultz of Athens is the director of 9
5, an organization in Milwaukee working for equal rightsfor women. She reminded us that it is the middle
class that creates jobs.
“We all do better when we all do better.” Nino Amato (from the Amato Restaurants in Madison) is the director of Coalition of Wisconsin AgingGroups of Madison. Their mission is to reduce conflicts of interest between prescribers and pharma-ceutical and medical device companies. He recommended two books:
The Time of Our Lives
by TomBrokaw and
That Used to Be Us
Friedman. He reminded us that it took over 100 years to gain women suffrage.
Bob Kincaid of West Virginia is a union progressive hillbilly. He hosts a radio show:
Radio Network) in Appalachia. He told about the coal companies that have blownoff the tops of 500 mountains, burying 2000 miles of streams.He told how the ideas of Bob LaFollette caught fire in West Virginia. He reminded us that the nation iswatching Wisconsin. If the Corporate Powers can destroy Wisconsin, they can win anywhere.
Mike McCabe gave a wonderful, fact
filled speech, as usual. He reminded us that the more moneyinvolved, the less democracy there is. Because of the work of investigative journalists, many peoplenow know about Citizens United and ALEC.
Mike McCabe advised us to think about where we want to START in our work with Wisconsin poli-tics. For the past year, we have concentrated on what we want to STOP, namely Governor Walker andhis radical ideas. Currently, he sees two political parties: one is scarey and the other is scared. TheDemocratic Party is damaged and we need to recover its purpose of progress for every person. Politi-cians need to be free to lead, not to be obliged to financial supporters. If you want to know how to de-velop a progressive party, follow the path of the 1911 session of the Wisconsin Legislatures. We needto do what citizens need, not what corporate power and money desire.Mahlon Mitchell, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, gave a dazzling speech. So did Ruth Conniff of the
I knew that John Nichols writes very well. However, I had never heard him speak and I was riveted to my chair. I couldn’t even take notes. He gave a sensational speech. Then Senator Kathleen Vinehout spoke. Again we stood many many times applauding loudly. She told how Gov.Walker found the state surplus by delaying payment of bills. This only adds to the interest our stateowes. He re
financed the existing debt. The Governor delayed more debt than Gov. Doyle did in his 8years of office.
I left that afternoon session with my ears ringing and my head full of information and ideas, resolved todo all I can to get out the vote on June 5.
May 24, 2012
“Once socialchange begins,it cannot be re-versed. Youcannot unedu-cate the personwho haslearned toread. You can-not humiliatethe person whofeels pride.You cannot op- press the peo- ple who arenot afraid any-more.”
© 2011Middle Wisconsin
By Virginia Kirsch
Fighting Bob Fest May 19, 2012