Monthly Archives: March 2017

A new resource for content for your grassroots group’s social media

Here’s an interesting new resource for grassroots groups in Wisconsin, with news and other resources, such as political cartoons, that you can share through your own group’s social media.
The Commoner Call introduces itself: “(This website) will not only be a source for news. It will also be a tool for activism…If you have an event to promote, send us a press release. Got an opinion, send us a letter. Got a complaint, drop us a note. We will post Mondays and Thursdays. If there is a special event or an emergency or critical action that needs to be taken we will publish bulletins, as needed. We will be refining the web site as we go along.

There is no charge, membership or subscription for The Commoner Call. There is no paid advertising. Nobody is getting paid a dime. We will take no money. It is all volunteer. That makes us independent.”


All hands on deck to save the Constitution!

The extremely wealthy right has long wanted government to go away–or, in the words of Grover Norquist, to be so small you can drown it in a bathtub. Why do they want this? Because when they have destroyed the ability of the federal government to promote justice and the general welfare, they will be able to use their wealth and power freely in their own self-interest.

Their most recent strategy may be their most effective: A constitutional convention, controlled by Republicans, that will rewrite the Constitution to prevent the federal government to spend no more than it taxes, except for wars.

When the federal government’s role is limited to the military, they will be able to make what’s left of it serve their interests exclusively–buying armaments and conducting wars for oil and other resources they want to take. We will have no functional government left to stand in their way when they turn public education into a private profit industry, spoil any natural resources they want;  operate dangerous work places, sell dangerous toys and drugs,  control what we can and cannot learn about through the Internet, and more. They want to profit from whatever you’re doing, every minute of your day.

Amending the Constitution to enable this has been their dream for a long time. A balanced budget amendment–forcing the federal government to spend no more than it takes in, and maybe a few other changes, like making corporate personhood rights legitimate, would put them over the top. It would effectively destroy our right to self-government, and turn what remains of the federal government into a servant of the interests of corporations and the wealthy.

Yes, that’s what’s at stake in an Article V Constitutional Convention organized and run by Republicans. Common Cause is organizing the fight here in Wisconsin. Contact your state legislators today (both Senate and Assembly), and brace yourself for similar action in the future.

This looks to be a life-or-death fight for democracy. When they re-write our Constitution to serve their own ends, our options won’t be pretty.

Major Democracy/Election Justice Event- Milw., March 18-19

Did you know that counties changed their ward-by-ward reported election results by 17,681 votes in the recount? Yep, they did. In-depth reporting on the results of the recount is only one of the topics at next weekend’s Voting Justice and Democratizing Elections Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union.  Join Jill Stein and national & state democracy activists for a weekend of information and organizing to protect our right to self-government!

Documentary director Jason Grant Smith will be on hand Saturday night to present his award-winning movie, “I Voted?

Plenary sessions will discuss the Recount and what we learned; redistricting; and campaign finance. Activists and experts will lead breakout sessions with topics, including:

  • Voting machine vulnerabilities and safeguards;
  • Verifying election results;
  • Updates on Voter ID action;
  • Racial discrimination in elections;
  • Corporate personhood rights;
  • Ranked Choice Voting;
  • Open Debates and the Influence of the Media; and
  • the Electoral College and the National Popular Vote.

For more information and to register, visit



What do you value? Name it. Say it.

Ask people who vote Republican what values guide their political beliefs, and you will get a quick, clear answer: Small government. Lower taxes. Free markets. Individual liberty.  Strong traditional families. Ask people who vote Democratic the same question, and maybe they’ll mention a specific issue–public schools, money in politics–but you won’t hear any statement of broad, guiding values.

Mike McCabe wrote about this phenomenon in his latest Blue Jean Nation blog post, and I’ve seen it, too. One of my hobbies is studying political conversation–how people talk politics with one another–and I’ve learned that being explicit about our values is a powerful first step to  productive political conversation. So I’ve asked many people: “What values shape your political choices?”

Try it; you’ll hear the same as McCabe and I do. Conservatives fluently put their guiding principles into words; everyone else, not so much. Progressives start listing individual issues.

Talking about values, however, is a surprisingly easy political conversation. Everyone has values; without them, we are inert, we prefer nothing over anything else.  And talk of values rarely deteriorates into a fight, because most people realize that deeply held values are not subject to debate. They are what they are.

But before asking anyone else–in fact right now–put your own values into words. Stop reading this, close your eyes, and decide what you’ll say when someone asks you “What do you value?”

At its formation, the South Central Grassroots Alliance adopted a values statement, which reads, in part:

We value government of, by, and for its human citizens, and we work peacefully and constructively to protect it from those ever-present few who seek to exercise power over us without our consent.  We believe governments should actively serve the purpose for which free men and women created them, which is to promote and protect the opportunities and rights of every living individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

McCabe offered his values statements:

  1. Freedom with responsibility. Each individual has a right to be free. But with that right comes an obligation to make sure others are free as well.
  2. Democracy, both political and economic. Both our political system and our economy should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
  3. Equality. We are all created equal, with inalienable rights. No one starts at third base.
  4. Caretaking. This means looking out for one another, and having each other’s back. It means taking care of the land and water and air.
  5. Service. To community. To country. To each other.

Now you. What do you value?

Put your values into words, and start telling people. The more of us who can do that, the better we’ll be able to start heading in that direction.

Nonviolent revolution documentary film – Thursday, 6:30 PM, downtown library

Madison’s IWW General Defense Committee is hosting a free showing of the BAFTA award-winning documentary on the work of Gene Sharp. Sharp is the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study of nonviolent action, and is a retired professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts. He is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which have influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world.

Thursday, March 2, at the downtown Madison Library, 201 West Mifflin. 6:30PM. More details here.