Last year I was at a meeting of the above groups, individuals and more. Some people were suggesting bloody revolution. Some suggested legal and political wrangling. Still some others suggested that if walking around the Capitol while holding signs didn't achieve our goals than we should just quit and give up. They felt the fight was not worth winning if we had to resort to raised voices and animosity towards those trying to destroy us.
In my occasionally humble opinion, all of the above are wrong. I never said anything though because a large part of what I do is communicate between all these groups and help to keep them together. Unity and solidarity are the hallmarks of the Wisconsin Movement. The GOTea never thought that here, going into the second half of 2012 that we would all still be united in the cause. But we are. They also thought they would be the overlords of Wisconsin now. But they are not. Because of our strength in solidarity we have been gaining ground even as they lose it. There is some infighting within the Democratic Party-supporting folk, but nothing at all like the intense infighting within the GOP, TEA, Libertarian radical extremist movement that is threatening to tear them all completely apart.
But nothing on this earth, and nobody on this earth, is perfect. We do have some squabbling on our side and I am actually going to promote the squabbling in this post. It is important that I do so, for without calling out some recent bullspit, our whole movement will be weakened and compromised.
This matter was first brought to my attention quite recently by Hallis Mailen and Sara Johann, and I would like to credit them for being "johnny on the spot" with this info. As many of you know we have several candidates for the Wisconsin State Assembly (and Senate as well) who are new-comers. People that feel compelled and obligated to jump into the political arena because their conscience's demand it. I felt the same way when I initiated my campaign back in January.
A very important thing to have when running for office, is a list of the voters in the district for which you are running. Here in Wisconsin we have the VAN list which is available from the DPW or Democratic Party of Wisconsin. It is a master list of all registered voters within the state of Wisconsin, and it is very telling in regards to how those registered voters lean politically.
This list is useful, and for most districts, it is a necessity for candidates and their campaigns. It can be used for mass mailings, it saves money and other resources. At a time when people have been intentionally divided by the GOTea, there is no point in mailing Democrat candidate literature to someone who is fanatically loyal to the TEA party.
Likewise it is useful when candidates and their support staff go canvassing, going door to door to talk with constituents about the issues and building face and name recognition for when it is time to go to the polls. It also helps you locate the all important swing voters, the independents who may vote for either party according to the issues of the day. And of course it keeps you from wasting your time on extremists who cant be swayed by logical or rational means.
Our Assembly candidates in Wisconsin who are new to the game, who are running first time campaigns, see this list as a must have item and key to their possible campaign victory. Those who are running clean and honest, transparent, grassroots campaigns, these people need the VAN list more than anyone else in the political arena. And they can get the list, the DPW (Democratic Party of Wisconsin, headed by Mike Tate) want them to have it. There is a problem though, the cost of getting the list is a financial burden on these campaigns.
The DPW asks $500 to receive a copy of the list for the district in which they are running. That kind of money is serious indeed to a honest, grassroots campaign. Some of these Assembly campaigns have a total of perhaps two to five thousand dollars total, to work with. And that can be enough money to fund a Assembly run in some districts. A smart candidate can buy some serious signage and mailings with that money. They can get their name, face, and message across to the thousands and thousands of constituents of their districts with that kind of money.......just barely, if they are really smart about it.
That $500 cost of the VAN list, means that at this all important, historic period in Wisconsin, we have candidates who are trying to decide between being able to do a mass mailing, or having a list of people to mail their literature to. Deciding between having signs to put out, or knowing where those signs should go. That is the kind of situation that can make or break an honest campaign.
If you are thinking that the Democratic party, desperately trying to reclaim the State Assembly, after working frantically for over a year to take back the Senate, is willing to help those campaigns, to help those Democratic candidates, your are unfortunately wrong. So say the candidates and their staff and supporters.
The biggest compromise the Democratic Party in Wisconsin is willing to make, is to split the $500 fee into two payments. That may help just a smidgen, but not very much. Especially when you consider that a candidate who runs for office on a total budget of say $4,000, may never even have $500 in their campaign fund at any one time. The money comes in a little at a time over a six to twelve month period, depending on when they announce their candidacy and register with the GAB.
Now I understand that the database used to maintain the VAN list is not cheap. As a matter of fact maintaining that list in 2011 cost $470,000 I was told yesterday by a party member. There is a ton of information to collect and cross reference. All that data has to be entered into the computers by people who spend thousands of hours doing just that. And those computers must be maintained, and receive maintenance and so on. A building must be rented or leased to house those computers and back up systems.. It is not cheap, not by any means and I understand that. And under normal conditions I firmly believe that $500 is a very fair price indeed for such valuable information. But these are not normal times, not at all.
We are in the middle of a class based civil war in America, and apparently the DPW is mostly concerned with maintaining the status quo. And by that I am referring to what many call "primary purpose" meaning specifically that the primary purpose of any organization, public or private, business based, faith based or whatever, is the continued existence of that organization. They may have formed to serve a cause or purpose, but above all else they maintain themselves and continue their existence, ahead of any other agenda. This is a truism when one is discussing a entity or organization where there is lots of money involved. And there is a ton of money in politics folks, but you don't need me to tell you that.
Even now in Wisconsin, after Scott Walker destroyed the very possibility of a level and fair playing field in elections through dissolving the state's Campaign Election Fund, the DPW is so far, unwilling to budge on this matter. In all fairness, Wisconsin's still existing campaign finance laws prohibit giving away the valuable VAN list for free. And I am not saying that the Dem's should break the law and give it away, but there are other options.
One of the many people which I spoke with yesterday, stated that the $500 fee was unalterable, so I informed him that I was aware of the fact that some candidates, who are "good ol friends" of the Dem Party, are paying as little as $150 to access the list. He then stated that candidates already in office, pay $2,000 a year each, to support the compiling and maintenance of the VAN list. I said I was well aware of that, but in all fairness, these are candidates with large war chests, drawing on a legislators salary and huge benefits package, receiving business and corporate donations, who can afford that fee. Which pretty much ended our conversation but at that point I was finished anyway.
I learned after writing this post that I was very wrong on one point above, there is no sliding scale or variable rate paid for VAN access. City council candidates pay the $150 rate because they are in districts so small, that the data they are requesting is minimal indeed compared to what a legislative candidate is seeking, thus less information is needed, thus a lesser fee.
Now there is still one very all important point that I haven't brought up in this posting yet, but which I brought up with party reps as well as with Senator Risser. And apparently it was only Senator Risser who seemed to understand, or even care, about this point. And that point is that we are going to have Democrat candidates out there, busting their butts and knocking on hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of doors WHILE THE NEW CASTLE DOCTRINE LAWS ARE ON THE BOOKS!!!!
Which means while some honest citizens candidate, or their staff member, is out there going door to door, some TEA party extremist whack job, can MURDER THEM. Kill them in cold blood, shoot them in the face in broad daylight, in front of God and everybody....and get away with it. Freely and clearly murder another human being, and the only thing that would happen, is that the GOTea would rush to the defense of the killer. Hell the GOTea is probably sitting around right now, with their cocaine and hookers (how's the "pie" Robin Vos?) ala Andrew Breitbart, just waiting with baited breath to hear about and celebrate the murder of a Wisconsin citizen. Voter intimidation is of course, not a new tactic within the new TEA Party controlled GOP.
When I originally posted this blog around 11 p.m. on the night of August 1st, I was called out as a sensationalist by a party representative, a party trustee (so to speak, spear carrier may be another applicable term) and by a person seeking employment with the party. With all due respect to these folks, they are not the ones who are in the trenches. While we were standing in the snow and the rain gaining recall signatures, they were in snug offices discussing other matters. They did not deal with the harrasment, with the physical assaults, with the repeated death threats. We did! And we know what the right wing, emotionally led extremists are all about.
This is the closest the politicians have come to dealing with the violence, their staff dealing withthreats over the phone.
When you are a common citizen, this is what may happen when dealing with "castle doctrine"
Only Senator Risser got the message, and I have a feeling him and I, along with some other citizens and members of the legislature, will be having a little sit down chat about how to fix this situation very soon. I very much hope so anyway. The Senator understood just how valuable that VAN list really is in the age of Scott Walker. That list will not only aid our candidates in their respective campaigns, it can also steer them away from knocking on any doors of homes belonging to members of the GOTea, gun and violence loving extremists that they are.
Once again a Dem rep called me out on this and stated that the VAN list is not in any way, shape or form a perfect list of who votes for which party. It is only highly suggestive, in a way too complicated for people like myself to understand, of which individuals at what addresses, vote Democrat or Republican.
This to me reeked of political double speak, how can you say that this high maintenance and very expensively maintained list is extremely valuable, in pointing candidates to members of the party. While simultaneously stating that it doesnt really tell you anything about what party a person votes for? You cant have it both ways!
Just this last week on facebook, on the Support Striking Palermo's Workers event page, there was a person posting racist, sexist and violent content under the name of Adam Kind. Adam Kind was the man who shot Bo Morrison, and is now a celebrated hero of the Wisconsin TEA Party movement and, the Grandsons of Liberty as well
Human life or money DPW? Winning back the state or maintaining the status quo? The decision is yours Democrats. Which will it be? Earlier I mentioned that legally the list can not be "just given away" to candidates and it shouldn't be. But the party has the coffers, very deep coffers (though not so deep as the GOTea's) full of cash. One option available, is for the party to make a legal campaign contribution to their own candidates, which can be used to purchase the VAN list. That way the list is available for the usage of Dem candidates, will aid our candidates campaigns, and the DPW in all reality wont really lose a penny over the whole deal, Heck, they would even generate some good press by doing that, showing unity and solidarity with the party base to which they owe a huge favor right now.
And so I am encouraging you good readers, you brave and bold badgers, to pick up the phone and call the legislators for the district in which you live. To call the DPW at (608) 255-5172, and ask them to do whatever they have to do, to get that list into the hands of our citizen-candidates who are bravely running for office in these tumultuous times.
And before I wrap up this rather long posting, I am going to take a quick little jab at Sachia Cheda, a member of the Democratic machine. He stated recently that a "qualified' candidate is a person who can easily raise lots of money and would have no trouble paying whatever fee, for things like the VAN list.
Well Mr. Cheda, contrary to whatever is going on inside your head, there IS A huge DIFFERENCE between a elected representative of the people, and a professional fundraiser! One cares all about money, the other cares all about the citizens of this great state. Fundraising, Mr Cheda, is what career politicians do from their office after they get elected, while their staff deals with legislation and issues. After they have become accustomed to the day to day, back room politicking. Fundraisers are busy having the proverbial "three martini lunch" while politicians are out listening to, and fighting for the interests of their constituents! I do sincerely hope that clears a few things up.
Thank you Hallis and Sara for bringing this to my attention. Thank you Senator Risser for agreeing to speak with me at length on such short notice. Thank you everyone who is going to pick up that phone and make a call or two in the interest of saving Wisconsin. Solidarity forever.
On Wisconsin! FORWARD!!!!