Jason Rae: I offer a unique perspective on the challenges our party faces and how we can address those challenges

Editor’s Note: Last week I reached out to each of the five candidates for DPW Chair and asked each of them to send me a guest blog for Blogging Blue outlining why they were the best candidate for DPW Chair. What follows is Jason Rae’s response.

I want to share part of a letter I wrote to delegates last week about why I am running for Chair:

One of the questions I’ve gotten most on the campaign is “Why do you want to be Chair?” My answer to that is simple. Growing up, I found a welcoming, safe home in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and I want to make sure anyone – anyone who finds themselves left out or left behind because of race, class, gender, where they grew up, or any other unfair or un-American reason – finds their home with our Party as well.

Growing up gay in Rice Lake, a wonderful rural, small town in northern Wisconsin, is hard. I was bullied by my classmates and I was not able to come out to my family until I was in college. When I was 19, the state of Wisconsin voted to tell me that I was a second-class citizen and did not have the same rights as my straight peers.

I had a very supportive family, but they were not politically involved, so I had to start out by riding my bike to county party meetings. I soon discovered that the Barron County Democrats were like a second family to me. They were probably surprised to see a 14 year old show up at one of their meetings – and maybe even more surprised that I kept coming back – but this welcoming group made sure I felt at home there.

I knocked on doors, made phone calls, and organized my friends to do the same for John Kerry, Russ Feingold, and Dave Obey long before we could vote, but I was always so proud that we made a difference in Rice Lake and Wisconsin.

This is what the Democratic Party should be: a home for all individuals – no matter their age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or where they live – who want to make their communities better.

There has been a lot written about me over the course of this campaign. For the past month, it was hard for me to log onto Facebook without seeing a new post questioning my motives for running or intentions for my term as Party Chair. I get it – politics can be ugly and has unfortunately become a blood sport.

But our politics doesn’t have to be this way. I share my personal story about growing up and how I found the Democratic Party because it is important to remember what is real and move beyond the pettiness. I know that there are thousands of kids who were just like me growing up who want to be the first LGBT President. As I write this post, Wisconsin Republicans are trying to legislate control over women’s bodies and health care decisions. Too many middle-class families are struggling while those at the top rig the rules against us.

These are all real issues that affect real people in Wisconsin. I’ve been a lifelong Democrat to make a difference in these people’s lives, and I’m running to for DPW Chair to continue that work.

I believe I offer a unique perspective on the challenges our party faces and how we can address those challenges. I grew up and became active in a rural environment, and I truly understand the challenges rural parties face. It’s not something you can figure out in one year or while we go along. I’ve been working on these challenges for more than a decade.

Now, I work in an urban setting and am active in an urban party, where our base is very important. I’ve been deeply involved in campaigns to turn out the base as well. The combination of urban and rural experience is what we need to grow the party statewide, and I truly believe we can’t risk turning the party over to someone who doesn’t have that breadth of experience.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is more than just anyone who says they are a Democrat. We are an organization of people and structures. Our volunteer leaders take the time to get involved, work on local campaigns, making donations of money and time. It takes years to understand how we work internally, and then be able to leverage that understanding to actually make positive change. In the last few years, the Party’s membership has doubled, and our Coordinated Campaign structure has gotten stronger. We need a chair who understands how all of this works, and can continue to make positive changes so every Democratic candidate is in a position to use the resources of the Party and win.

But I also believe that in the end, campaigns are won or lost because we have the right candidates. They need the right training and support, but they also need to be the people who are willing to work hard and have the personality to win votes. The Party can only take us so far – and we need to recruit the best candidates to take us over the finish line so we can win on the issues we care about.

You can read my comprehensive plans on my website, www.jasonrae.com, for how I plan to address our need to build stronger county party infrastructure, train a new generation of progressive candidates, regain our digital advantage, and transform how we organize so we can become more competitive across the state, especially outside of Madison and Milwaukee.
Also listed on my website is my personal email and cell phone number, and I would be more than happy to chat any time about your ideas to build the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as well.

I know that my opponents, Martha Laning, Joe Wineke, Jeff Smith, and Stephen Smith, are all good people who have genuine intentions and good ideas to strengthen the Democratic Party as well.

We have a lot of work to do together to get Wisconsin back on the right track. If you are attending convention this weekend, I hope I can earn your vote. If you aren’t able to join us, I look forward to continuing to work with you to restore the proud progressive tradition of our state.

Thank you,



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8 thoughts on “Jason Rae: I offer a unique perspective on the challenges our party faces and how we can address those challenges

  1. Its time to take ownership of the democratic party away from nation consultant. Jason is nothing more than Tate 2.0. Nothing will change. And Wisconsin will be further damaged. I’m thinking women power

  2. Mr. Rae, you wrote, “I believe I offer a unique perspective on the challenges our party faces and how we can address those challenges. I grew up and became active in a rural environment, and I truly understand the challenges rural parties face. It’s not something you can figure out in one year or while we go along. I’ve been working on these challenges for more than a decade.”

    1. Why didn’t you share those with Mr. Tate before Gov. Walker won the recall election?

    2. Why didn’t you share those with Mr. Tate before Gov. Walker beat Ms. Burke?

    2.1. Have you considered how much Ms. Burke’s candidacy cost Wisconsin Dems? Enormous sums and energy were poured into a candidate, who after she lost, decided that she doesn’t want to continue in politics. As a result of Mr. Tate’s colossal miscalculation, another candidate, even one who lost, would have not represented such a waste of scarce resources.

    3. Corporate Dems all over the country have succeeded in the last few years in using a commendable passion for LGBT issues to hide their anti-worker, anti-capitalism, and pro-austerity agenda.

    “Oligarch exists inside our democracy,” is from 2013.

    “Suddenly it looks like we are seeing political victories for progressives, on LGBT rights, on issues important to Hispanics, even occasionally on issues important to women. At the same time, we lose every single battle over economic issues. How is it that when polls show that a huge majority oppose cuts to Social Security, Democratic politicians like President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin are all for it, as are the Republicans? How is it that when Obama gets elected on a pledge to hike taxes on incomes above $250K, with a huge majority and control of the Senate, and a legislative situation where all he has to do is nothing and it happens, and then it doesn’t? How is it that the same bill continued a bunch of disgusting loopholes for the richest Americans and the corporations they control, like the NASCAR loophole that essentially only benefits one enormously wealthy family? How is it that within days of hearings showing the incompetence of JPMorgan’s derivatives traders the House Agriculture Committee cleared legislation to inflict derivative losses on the FDIC?”

    4. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is a pristine example of wrapping himself in LGBT issues to distract from the fact that he’s a complete tool of the elites. He’s actively working with WIGOP to crush Milwaukee unions. Slashing the salaries of Milwaukee County Supervisors was a huge gift to WIGOP. Among all the damage it to “local government,” it also meant Milwaukee County could no longer serve as an incubator for Milwaukee Dems getting their start in Wisconsin politics. In the state’s largest city, it made the job of candidate recruiting, training and support immensely more difficult and complex.

    I’m glad Mr. Abele supports LGBT issues, but at what point does DPW grow a spine and tell him to join the Log Cabin Republicans?

    5. I’m very sorry about the discrimination you faced as a member of the LBGT community. I’m also very sorry about the discrimination the descendants of the slaves and people of color have faced. I’m also very sorry about the discrimination women have faced. I’m also very sorry about the discrimination my Polish relatives were subjected to. Those struggles for liberation continue and I support all of them. Your assertion, however, that somehow your experience as a “victim,” is a “unique” qualifier for DPW chair carries no weight with me.

  3. Apologies, here’s the link to “Oligarchy Exists Inside Our Democracy.”


    Mr. Rae, my very great fear is that Mr. Tate’s failures were orchestrated by Sec. Clinton’s desires for the 2016 White House. Per “Oligarchy Exists Inside Our Democracy,” the elites didn’t really care who won between Obama and McCain and Obama and Romney. They had supreme confidence that whatever the outcome, their interests would be protected, their agendas moved forward. To entertain the masses, however, the charade has to go on. As you know, thanks to the out-dated electoral college system, only a very few votes, in a very few swing states actually decide the Presidential election. Most states are usually reliably red or blue for President. It’s only independent (usually low information voters) in swing states who decide which of the oligarch’s two choices will win. My fear is that Sec. Clinton’s tetam thought Wisconsin’s ten-electoral votes would be easier to secure in November 2016, if Scott Walker were still Governor. I’d certainly like to be wrong about that, but unfortunately, I’ve seen no evidence that the Democratic leadership in the state was committed to beating Gov. Walker.

  4. Mr. Rae, imho, the single most obvious issue facing Democrats is that we’ve allowed the GOP and their corporate talk radio shows to paint us as the party of high state and local taxes, especially property taxes. The low-hanging fruit to remedy that is the legalization of marijuana. “Rep. Melissa Sargent: Marijuana legalization must happen in Wisconsin” http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/rep-melissa-sargent-marijuana-legalization-must-happen-in-wisconsin/article_7b1775e9-6cb4-5bbd-878a-87eac51341cc.html

    So I’ve been more than a little surprised to see Mayor Barrett and then Ms. Burke ignore an issue which could have fueled fund raising, made GOTV much easier, and imho delivered both the Governor’s Office and the state Senate. At the national level wingnut Sen. Ted Cruz just joined Rand Paul in supporting legalization, because their base is demanding legalization.

    “Ted Cruz’s Cannabis Conversion Reflects The Political Prudence Of Marijuana Federalism”

    Hemp would bring additional economic benefits, “Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp: How the Kentucky senator picked a fight with the DEA and became one of Washington’s top drug policy reformers.”


    The prohibition against marijuana is a textbook example of a job-killing-government regulation, but Big Pharma lines both parties with plenty of cash to keep it illegal. Their meds are the biggest single loser if it’s legalized. “The Smoke and Mirrors of the Legalization Debate” http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2012/04/27/the-smoke-and-mirrors-of-the-legalization-debate/

    It looks to me as thought Wisconsin Democrats are being sacrificed so national Dems can collect more money from Big Pharma. Am I wrong about that?

    I would never encourage anyone to use pot, other than for medicinal purposes, but the prohibition against alcohol didn’t work either.

    The longer Dems wait, the more likely it becomes for WIGOP to climb aboard and pretend it’s “bi-partisan.”

  5. Mr. Rae, a lot of the Democrats’ problems in Wisconsin (and the other 49 states) stem from the fiscal illiteracy into which President Obama has fallen, along with most of the Republican party. Capitalism runs on sales. The real “job creators,” are consumers with money to spend.

    We don’t borrow dollars from China or our grandchildren. As long as a debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can always pay it.

    Ask your parents if they remember all those cars we sold to pay for Worldl War II. Nope we didn’t sell any cars to pay for WW II. The war cost us in soldiers’ lives, in fuel, in steel, in rubber, …., but we were off the gold standard.

    We can run out of clean air and water. We can run out of safe food, sustainable energy, some metals and minerals. The U.S. government, however, cannot run out of dollars. Wall Street’s already figured this out, “Bank Of America Dumps $75 Trillion In Derivatives On U.S. Taxpayers With Federal Approval.”


    To put $75 trillion in perspective, US GDP in 2012 was around $16.5 trillion. We blew a lot more than the $6 trillion they’re claiming in Iraq and Afghanistan. Social Security’s Trust Fund is around $2.3 trillion. Bank of America is just one Wall Street bank. They all have derivative exposure. I’ve seen estimates of $700 trillion, but I don’t think anyone knows.

    “QE” (quantitative easing) is another example federal welfare, laundered through Wall Street, for the elites. None of it “trickles down.”

    Ex-Goldman Sachs Director, Nomi Prins agrees, “What Tomorrowland Says About How Our Goals Have Been Downsized.”

    “No one could have predicted the sheer scope of global monetary policy bolstering the private banking and trading system. Yet, here we were – ensconced in the seventh year of capital markets being buoyed by coordinated government and central bank strategies. It’s Keynesianism for Wall Street. The unprecedented nature of this international effort has provided an illusion of stability, albeit reliant on artificial stimulus to the private sector in the form of cheap money, tempered currency rates (except the dollar – so far) and multi-trillion dollar bond buying programs. It is the most expensive, blatant aid for major financial players ever conceived and executed. But the facade is fading. Even those sustaining this madness, like the IMF, are issuing warnings about increasing volatility.”


    This Wall Street Journal makes the same point, federal welfare for the elites has inflated the value of stocks, bonds, and real estate. “Record-low rates are fueling an unprecedented bout of inflation– across asset prices,” which makes the same point.

    This fuels income inequality: “The Wall Street bonus pool for last year is roughly double the total earnings of all Americans who work full time at the federal minimum wage.”

    “…Let’s start with the Wall Street bonuses. The New York State Comptroller reported on Wednesday that the size of the bonus pool paid to securities industries employees in New York City was $28.5 billion. Dividing this total among 167,800 workers yields an average bonus of $172,860, which seems plausible enough. For sure, some received much, much bigger bonuses, and many received nothing.

    What about the total earnings of full-time workers at the federal minimum wage? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 1.03 million full-time workers paid an hourly wage of $7.25 or less. These people tend to work around 40 hours a week on average. If they all earn $7.25 per hour and work 50 weeks per year, the total earnings of this group come to nearly $15 billion. Ms. Anderson, whose report usefully shows all her work, prefers an estimate of 37 hours per week — which looks too low to me based on other data — and 52 weeks per year, so after rounding, she gets to a total of $14 billion.


    We need Democratic leaders such as yourself to explain that unlike state and local governments, who really DO depend on state and local taxes for their revenue, whose budgets have to balance, the federal government does not need federal taxes to provision itself. Back in 1946 Beardsley Ruml, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, wrote “(Federal) Taxes For Revenue Are Obsolete,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-mosler/taxes-for-revenue-are-obs_b_542134.html

    Please note, neither Mr. Ruml, nor what’s now called “Modern Monetary Theory,” #MMT are saying federal taxes are obsolete. They are not. As the link explains in detail, among several important functions federal taxes play, if you have demand-pull inflation, too many dollars chasing too few goods, federal taxes would be one way help to manage aggregate demand.

    When you hear Democrats talk about a “balanced” federal budget, you immediately know they are fiscal illiterates who, among other things, don’t understand “demand leakage.”

    “Demand leakages are unspent income. For a given currency, if any agent doesn’t spend his income, some other agent has to spend more than his income, or that much output doesn’t get sold. So if the non government sectors collectively don’t spend all of their income, it’s up to government to make sure its income is less than its spending, or that much output doesn’t get sold. This translates into what’s commonly called the ‘output gap,’ which is largely a sanitized way of saying unemployment.

    And with the private sector necessarily pro cyclical, the (whopping) private sector spending gap in this economy can only be filled with by government via either a (whopping) tax cut and/or spending increase (depending on one’s politics).

    So wherefore the ‘demand leakages?’ The lion’s share are due to tax advantages for not spending your income, including pension contributions, IRA’s and all kinds of corporate reserves. Then there’s foreign hoards accumulated to support foreign exporters. And it all should be a very good thing — all of that net unspent income means that for a given size government, and a given non government rate of credit expansion, our taxes can be that much lower. Personally, I’d rather have a tax cut than a policy to get other people to spend their unspent income or borrow more. But that’s just me…”


    If you’re having trouble following, tweet to @StephanieKelton and tell her you’re running for DPW chair.

    “UMKC’s Stephanie Kelton is named chief Democratic economist on the Senate Budget Committee”


    I’m sure she’ll get back to you as soon as her daunting responsibilities in our nation’s capital allow.

    Once you become fiscally literate, the obvious low hanging fruit for Dems is bringing back the full holiday on both sides of the payroll tax (FICA). As long as the GOP doesn’t try to use that to cut Social Security, it’s the fastest way imho to put dollars back in the pockets of workers. Increased federal spending on education, health care, and green infrastructure make way too much sense and I hope we do a lot more on all three fronts. I hope you’re already familiar with a federal job guarantee.

    “The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements.”


    Another #MMT economist says it very well here: “Should the government spend willy-nilly on whatever it pleases since it doesn’t face involuntary default?” and the answer to that question is most definitely NO. Not all deficits are created equal: some create more inequality and more rentier income, as it seems to be the case in the current crisis. Others can cause inflation. Yet others can directly create jobs, public investments, and productive capacity without generating inflationary pressures. In sovereign currency nations, a truly responsible government spending is one that is measured not by the debt-(or deficit)-to GDP ratios, but by the real impact of that spending on the economy–job creation, poverty alleviation, stable prices, income distribution, social goods provisioning are all good measures for assessing how responsible government policy has been.”


    If you read Forbes, I’m sure you saw this from another #MMT economist, Prof. Steve Keen, “Beware Of Politicians Bearing Household Analogies” http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevekeen/2015/01/14/beware-of-politicians-bearing-household-analogies-3/

    It’s a lot easier for state and local governments to repair their budgets, if the federal government is doing what it’s supposed to, not being a fiscal drag on the economy.

  6. Mr. Rae, I would strongly suggest that Wisconsin Democrats embrace President Reagan on unions. I believe the 90-second video of President Reagan saying there is no “freedom,” without “collective bargaining,” is very important to the future of the Democratic party in Wisconsin.

    “These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland, the values that have inspired other dissidents under communist domination, who have been willing to go into the gulag and suffer the torture of imprisonment, because of their dissidence. They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost… They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. You and I must protect and preserve freedom here, or it will not be passed on to our children and it will disappear everywhere in the world. Today, the workers in Poland are showing a new generation how high is the price of freedom, but also how much, it is worth that price. I want more than anything I’ve ever wanted, to have an administration that will through its actions, at home and in the international arena, let millions of people know, that Miss Liberty, still lifts her lamp beside the golden door.”


    Wisconsin Democrats using video of President Reagan to run for collective bargaining and against Republicans strikes me as a wise move.

    I was disappointed your post did not mention anything about equipping Wisconsin Democrats to deal with talk-radio, Charlie Sykes, Mark Belling……. I would invite you to consider that every day Wisconsin Democrats need to have a resource that informs them what topics the wingnuts are hitting and how to counter them in ways that resonate with working people, many of whom don’t have a college degree.

    As an example, Democrats have been so far unable to mobilize support for tenure in the UW System in a way that resonates with working class voters. I would encourage you and other party leaders to consider that the Green Bay Packers may offer a helpful metaphor that would resonate with exactly the working-class constituency who vote Republican in state races. Unilaterally abandoning tenure would be like Packer president Mark Murphy telling Ted Thompson that he couldn’t give “guaranteed” money to re-sign Packer players. Packer fans would immediately understand, they know that the best Packer players would leave for the other 31 NFL franchises that would be happy to give them “guaranteed” money. That humble messaging example does not do justice to a lot of the other value that tenure brings, but on a key point, I think it is accessible with an audience that the UW System needs to reach.

    IMHO, “Sex, Drugs and Poverty in Red and Blue America,”


    is as true in Wisconsin as it is in the rest of America. As long as Democrats pay attention and stay true, it’s a path to victories.

    After the 13-minute mark in her February Wisconsin Eye interview, Sen. Vinehout offered a devastating critique of you, Nation Consulting, and corporate control of the state government in Madison.


    IMHO, your failure to address her criticism directly only gives it greater strength.

    As someone who fully embraces LGBT issues and culture, it’s not clear to me that you have any problem with religion. I am of course aware that many in the LGBT community have suffered grievously from various religious groups. FWIW, and imho, scripture frequently supports bedrock Democratic principles. One of many example is Matthew 25:

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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