Hello dey, Wisconsin!

Hello, good morning, good day and good evening, or as my Grandpa Lee used to say, “Hello Dey!” For those of you who do not know me, as I’m guessing that’s pretty much everyone, I’m Dustin. I’m another poor college student, union thug, pinko liberal here to dispel words upon you that spread progressive thought and discourse. Well…at least I hope so.

For most of my life I’ve been a Democrat. As in, since I was 14 and became aware of politics.

My activism started when I joined the Rainbow Alliance for the Youth, or RAY Club, a form of Gay-Straight Alliance, and ran for president of the club in his first meeting. Ultimately, I lost, but continued in that meeting to run for other offices and succeeded in winning a spot as secretary of the club. After two years of being taking meeting minutes, I ran for the presidency once more in my junior year and won. In that same year, I was appointed co-president of Amnesty International of Hamilton High School and president of Community Activists for the Revival of Empathy (CARE), a catch-all activist group that worked with the Salvation Army to feed the hungry, started a recycling program at my high school and worked with students to bring awareness to various types of discrimination.

When I was 19, I unsuccessfully took on Dan Knodl in the 24th State Assembly district. It was a great experience and I met so many amazing folks that have taught me about the process and helped me to become involved in election cycles beyond 2010. I also received the honor of working for the coordinated campaign at the UW-Stevens Point campus as a campus organizer for the 2010 election cycle.

I’ve served on the Portage County Democratic Party executive board, the 5th Congressional District executive board and managed Dave Heaster’s valiant attempt at taking on Jim Sensennbrenner. And, I, like so many of you, was in Madison at ground zero back in February and March of 2011. It’s been an amazing ride and now I have landed here at Blogging Blue!

I really hope we can help shape the discussion. Young voices are especially needed to change the atmosphere surrounding politics. Common sense and decency seems to have vanished from the English language, and it’s time we start to take the discussion back. It’s our voice; it’s our power. And I look forward to this chance to help influence our discourse.

I encourage you to ask me questions, suggest topics that need attention or notice, and stop in every week to see what I think of Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and how we can begin to change the world one by one!

“Fiscal Showdown Event” energizes, empowers Waukesha County participants

About 20 people participated in the “Fiscal Showdown Event” at Rep. Sensenbrenner’s (R) office on Monday evening, according to event organizer, Dave Heaster. That’s a pretty good crowd considering the temperature (32 degrees and dropping) and the location (ultra-conservative Brookfield, Wisconsin). Though they were unable to speak directly with Rep. Sensenbrenner about their concerns, attendees left feeling “energized” and “empowered.”

As Heaster had explained in his event invite, “Fiscal showdown talks are heating up, and some Democrats are saying publicly that they’re willing to trade cuts to Medicare benefits to get the GOP to raise taxes on the rich. We need to expose Big Jim and all House Republicans for holding up middle class tax cuts in order to protect giveaways for the top 2%.”

But by the time the group had assembled at Bishops Woods Office Park, Rep. Sensenbrenner and his staff had left for the day.

“We did not let that deter us,” said Heaster. “We agreed to send emails and voice mails to Jim’s office this week – stating that we were hoping to talk with him in person, but here are our concerns… ”

Then the cold-nosed, sign-carrying participants took the opportunity to share their own personal stories about how a tax increase would hurt their families.

Said Heaster,”Our stories helped energize one another and reminded us that we can make a difference and, at the very least, raise our spirits and our soul with the simple act of standing up and doing something about it.”

Amen to that.

A few of the participants. Credit-Thomas


“Fiscal Showdown Event” planned for 12/10 in Brookfield, Wisconsin

Citizens from Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District will gather on Monday evening at Representative Sensenbrenner’s (R) office in Brookfield “to speak out against GOP plans to take our economy over the fiscal cliff.”  Dave Heaster will host the event.

From Heaster’s event invite:

Fiscal showdown talks are heating up, and some Democrats are saying publicly that they’re willing to trade cuts to Medicare benefits to get the GOP to raise taxes on the rich. We need to expose Big Jim and all House Republicans for holding up middle class tax cuts in order to protect giveaways for the top 2%. That’s why on Monday, December 10, progressives are organizing hundreds of Fiscal Showdown events at congressional offices nationwide. Let’s do our part to show that Jim’s constituents are fed up with his lack of leadership.

And from Heaster’s Facebook page:

If you live in the 5th CD, join me at Jim Sensenbrenner’s Brookfield office to urge him to Stand Up and Represent! We’ll tell him that we’re sick of his support of the GOP plans to take our economy over the fiscal cliff. Hope to see you there.

Participants plan to gather at 5:15pm at 120 Bishops Way in Brookfield. Those interested in joining the gathering, which will last approximately 30 minutes, are asked to RSVP. (Click here.)

Rep. Kapenga at Delafield Town Hall: Right-to-work legislation “ready to go” in Wisconsin

Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner and Chris Kapenga held a listening session on Monday night in politically conservative Delafield, Wisconsin; statements made at that meeting left some Waukesha County residents stunned. According to two attendees, Representative Chris Kapenga openly admitted that the GOP has plans to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state and that they’re just waiting for a politically opportune time.

According to Waukesha County resident Leanne Wied-Brusky, when a Town Hall attendee who seemed in favor of right-to-work legislation expressed discontent over the delay in implementation, Kapenga responded,  “We have right-to-work legislation in (three) different offices ready to go. If we had done it earlier, when we wanted, then Prosser would not have been elected. Right now is not the right time. We have to wait until it is politically feasible.”

Dave Heaster, also at the meeting, confirmed Kapenga’s statement and said he also heard him say, “…if we did it now, we’d be burning political capital, and we just don’t have excess capital to burn now.”

Heaster, who has filed the paperwork necessary to run against Sensenbrenner, told me that he “wasn’t surprised to hear that they were planning it in secret” but that what shocked him is “that this seemingly young guy, Kapenga, was stupid enough to tell us all about it!” Heaster added, “But then again, I’ve always said that if the people don’t bring down Walker, his own stupidity will!”

Unsurprisingly, Wied- Brusky said that after Kapenga made those shocking comments, Jim Sensenbrenner “did not look happy” and “tried to end the session.”

Funny how the truth seems to come out only when the Republicans think they’re in politically “safe” territory, and with huge gaffes like this one.

Added Heaster, “It’s funny – but more so, it shows how if we allow the Republicans to continue down this right-to-work vision, we are going to become a 3rd world nation.”


5/12, Madison, Wisconsin


Progressive candidate’s run against Jim Sensenbrenner is no fool’s errand

Some say I’m a fool for attempting to turn Waukesha County “blue” with my blogging and Drinking Liberally Waukesha. But the alternative is to sit around, wring my hands, and lament that things will never change. To me, that would be foolish. I’d rather aim high, take risks and lose than give up or settle right from the start. So would Dave Heaster, a progressive from Sussex who recently filed the paperwork necessary to run against Republican incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner this November. I met with Heaster on Thursday evening in downtown Waukesha to question his decision to run, his chances of winning, and his sanity.

“I don’t have delusions that I am going to come in and win easily,” Heaster told me, but he also said he would not have entered the race if he didn’t think he could win. He said his chances of defeating Sensenbrenner are greater at this moment in time, in light of recent laws passed by the Wisconsin GOP such as The Castle Doctrine, Concealed Carry, and the gutting of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. Heaster said Wisconsin GOP legislators are “clinging to their ideology” and “the things they come up with are almost insane.”

Conversely, the foundation of Dave Heaster’s campaign platform is “logic and ethics” and he will continually refer to what makes sense, he insists. He wants to focus on transparency by using technology to bring constituents into the decision-making process. To Heaster, real representation means participatory democracy with actively engaged citizens.

Heaster was born and raised in Brookfield, Wisconsin in a “classically middle-class” family. His father sold insurance and his mother worked in the deli at Kohl’s grocery store. She was a member of the Butcher’s Union Local 33. Education is what turned him into a true progressive.

He’s pro-collective bargaining rights, pro-worker, pro-environmental protections, pro-education, pro-science, pro-separation of church and state,  pro-choice, and pro-equal rights for all.

He’s also against overspending, living beyond our means, and he’s worried about the debt. It’s a stereotype that liberals don’t care about debt, Heaster said.“Republicans call us the tax and spend Democrats, but they are tax cut and spend…if you’re a fiscal conservative, why would you give tax cuts and then start wars? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Democrats are not inherently anti-business, Heaster insists, “we can be very pro-business. If you’re pro-business and for a strong economy, it doesn’t mean you have to vote Republican.” Government does need to be fiscally responsible, and some things about government do need to change, Heaster says, “but by the same token, we’re a modern day society and modern day societies should have a certain amount of government, a certain amount of programs to help people. We don’t want to live in the Wild West…that’s not a way to run a country.”

Heaster has a firm grasp on what he needs to do to win District 5: own the youth vote, talk with women and ask them if they’re happy with their representation, and be wholly himself. He’ll also make clear to older voters that he wants to protect Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

Still, Heaster realizes that many may find him unorthodox, that some voters might think he’s “too casual.” He’s definitely the anti-Sensenbrenner, not a “dinosaur”, very Gen X. I’m not sure how he’ll be received by the larger public. But, as Heaster himself told me, “Now is the time to get up and do something…I’m going to run on what I believe and people will either buy into it or they won’t.”

Right on.

Dave Heaster, 5/3/12