Tag Archives: Wisconsin

After Wisconsin and the electoral trap

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s victory in Tuesday’s recall election isn’t a happy outcome for the activists who have spent nearly a year and a half going after him.  It’s particularly troubling for labor organizers, who will face subsequent challenges with … Continue reading

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Petitions, virtual and otherwise

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees “the people” the right to assembly and “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ”  Do petitions matter?  How? Signing a piece of paper is one of … Continue reading

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Drawing a line from ALEC to Trayvon

George Zimmerman fired the shot that killed Trayvon Martin, but ALEC wrote the Stand Your Ground law at the core of his legal defense.  Taken just a slight step further, ALEC also pressed for the budget cuts that have led … Continue reading

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How the courts disappoint

American politics has provided some updates on our concerns about the courts and social movements (see: “You can’t count on the courts”).  Be sure that activists will be disappointed–and that they are extremely unlikely to give up. In Wisconsin, the … Continue reading

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You Can’t Count on the Courts to ________ Social Change

“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question.” This is a tag from Alexis de Tocqueville’s monumental Democracy in America, published well over 150 years ago. This is … Continue reading

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Anger, Organization, and the Myth of Spontaneity

When protest explodes/emerges/erupts/ after a politician does–or threatens–something unappealing, we talk about the unrest as a response. So, we saw disruptions at town meetings across the country in 2009 about President Obama’s health care reforms, and we saw large demonstrations … Continue reading

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On Wisconsin: After Defeat, Activists Pick New Arenas

When a door closes, start trying the windows.  A defeat in Wisconsin has spurred a new wave of activism, and advocates have turned their attention beyond the state senate. In the United States, when activists lose a battle in one … Continue reading

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It’s not just protest (Madison)

Although those dramatic demonstrations, like the ones we saw in Madison, capture the imagination, by themselves, they won’t change a policy or a government.  Protest signals, supports, and coerces.  Changes in politics and policy depend upon how a broad range … Continue reading

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Beyond Madison: Who’s Watching? Who’s Talking? Who’s Doing?

Watch the crowd in a fight. That’s an old insight in the social sciences, stated pretty clearly by E. E. Schattschneider in The Semi-Sovereign People fifty years ago. The point: The losers in any political struggle have an interest in … Continue reading

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On Wisconsin and beyond

The protests in Madison are just the start of a larger struggle about budgets and labor across the United States. I’m on the Joy Cardin show on Wisconsin Public Radio, talking about the protests in Madison.  (I got to tell … Continue reading

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