It has been said that Einstein (and Voltaire and Ben Franklin) defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Whoever said it wasn’t wrong.

All day yesterday, I was ruminating on the upcoming Supreme Court primary and the great opportunity it presents for Democrats to vote Rebecca Bradley out of the race altogether. Even though the race is non-partisan, she is clearly one of Walker’s “tools” and would pretty much put an end to any hope of turning that court around. While I will admit that I have been distracted by all the fun associated with the Holiday Season and haven’t been paying close attention to the topic, a quick search of the internet confirmed that, indeed, there hasn’t been much coverage. And even though there was a lot of stuff swirling around in my head, I just couldn’t figure out how to approach the topic for a Blogging Blue post. Last night, a Plain Talk article written by Dave Zweifel popped up in my Facebook feed, and suddenly, all my thoughts came together:

“The key question is whether the state’s dysfunctional Democratic Party can get its act together in 2016 to get the message out to the voters on what’s been going on the past several years.”

As you all know, in the last 6 months, we’ve changed leadership in both the Democratic Party of WI and the Democratic Party of Milwaukee. In June, Martha Laning was elected the new DPW Chair. A quick check of the DPW website shows an easily navigated fund raising page with very little about specific races, candidates (except Feingold) or substantive issues….there’s one page called “Stop Unlimited Corporate Campaign Contributions in Wisconsin” that looks like a petition/fund-raising tool and links to a few articles, press releases and the bills themselves, but it’s from OCTOBER. Most of the Twitter (the most immediate form of communication for most grown ups) feed is two weeks old. Seriously? It was hard to find any detailed information on anything. It was slick and I don’t mean that in a good way. A quick Google check of Martha Laning yields nothing newsworthy since November (when she did a Q&A on her goals for the Party), except for the letter from the Trump campaign asking for help in getting on the ballot. The bulk of the search cites articles about her election….in June! This is exactly the reason I let my membership lapse…the State party is clearly out of touch with the situation. I had hoped that new leadership would turn it around, but I guess they have decided to stick with the “trite and true” style that allowed the complete takeover of our State by the WIGOP.

With this negative mindset, I then turned to the Milwaukee Dems website. And I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing I saw were photos of the three Democratic Presidential candidates and a mission statement which focused on action. There was a calendar of events, current press releases, and the Twitter feed was up to the minute. Fund-raising is clearly a priority, but after GOTV action. My first thought was that they are ready to “rock n roll” and will do what it takes to get folks to the polls. This group recently elected new leadership as well, and the Chair, Robert Hansen, has clearly made a commitment to change. However, there is virtually no coverage of the upcoming Spring Primary and General Elections, despite it including the Supreme Court, the Circuit Courts, and the Milwaukee County Executive races. They clearly support a particular candidate in the upcoming County Executive race, so this is the time to go all in. To be fair, the Spring ballots are still fluid, but by Tuesday we will know who is running in every race. With this Spring election being the Presidential Preference (that just cracks me up) Primary, we know that we will have a better than average turnout.  It’s a numbers game, we need to get folks who vote our way out.  We know that the Republican Party of Wisconsin will be whipping their supporters into a frenzy (and the Tea Party will tell their base that ISIS will kill you personally if you don’t vote for Trump) to get them to the polls.   And they will all vote for Bradley.  It will be easier to take her out in February than in April, so we had better make the most of this opportunity.  It doesn’t knock on your door every day, you know.

As Democrats, and Progressives, we need to take the steps to get our act together now, get the message and the voters out, and change the course we are on.   Anything less is pure insanity.


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19 thoughts on “It has been said that Einstein (and Voltaire and Ben Franklin) defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Whoever said it wasn’t wrong.

  1. I know the party and new personnel in place have a plan. Why they’re being so slow to implement it, I have no idea. As they say in real estate, “Time is of the essence.”

    1. I’m not excusing the slow pace of things, but I do know that almost the entire staff from the previous regime has left. So Martha’s had to hire a lot of new people. I think the new communications director just came on board in mid-December. That may be why there have not been Twitter and Facebook posts very often lately.

  2. “…I had hoped new leadership would turn it around…”

    Amen. Nancy! The only change I have noticed is an increase in my e-mail solicitations and new solicitors. My delete file runneth over!

    I recall a recent poll reveals six out of ten Wisconsin citizens view Walker’s performance as unfavorable and that only four governors have a greater disapproval rating, If Walker is a failure, so is the majority party which enables and shares in his unfavorable performance.

    Martha, Martha, communicate, lead us, show us the plan and our place in it!

  3. I’ve sent this post to the new leadership at DPW and hope they will respond. Meanwhile, as the new Corresponding Secretary of the Milwaukee Democratic Party, I will be posting information about the nonpartisan primary and elections with links to relevant information (candidates’ websites and Facebook pages) soon. Turning out progressives for the Feb primary is the highest priority for the party right now — but it will take more than Milwaukee folks to knock R Bradley out. So we need to mobilize people all around the state!

  4. Thank you Nancy.
    I agree and would like to add…
    Democrats/Progressives will never hold the majority again unless they can get minorities to turn out. DPW has failed to do this in the past. DPW needs to recognize, address and solve why WI has amongst the lowest minority turnout rates in the nation. Feingold, for example, should be spending every waking hour trying to appeal to the African-American, Hispanic and LGBT communities. He failed to do this last time (as did Barrett- twice) and he is on course to repeat. In my opinion, this should be the major/priority focus of any Democrat/Progress deciding to run in the next couple of decades. Those liberals who typically turn out will return but those in the above mentioned groups need to be aggressively solicited. “Anything less is pure insanity” (I love this line-thanks Nancy-hope you don’t mind if I use it).

    1. I agree that the party needs to focus on expanding its base in general. We can’t count on unions, blue collar workers, and academics to be the huge GOTV generators anymore. They certainly are still a core and highly important part of the party base, but we need to stop acting like this is the 1960s and have a party that reflects Wisconsin 2016.

        1. I think that would be a start, though I’m not sure how popular the idea is in Wisconsin, yet. “Legalize it and tax it”, makes sense, though.

          I would also like to see the party vocally take up the idea of expanding high speed internet and cell service to rural areas.

        2. John,
          I respectfully disagree. From personal experience I have concluded that “pot” is a gateway drug. I no longer smoke pot but have many friends that do. Some are successful but the majority are “fried”. Gambling, alcohol and pot all have an inherent addiction risk and some people are more susceptible than others. These addiction taxes are not sustainable. As with cigarettes eventually part of the taxes will have to be used to support anti-pot smoking campaigns. Can you imagine the tax shortage if people actually stopped smoking cigs or if we used all renewable energy. Let’s not forget that one joint is equal to smoking ten cancer causing cigs. I know, I know smoking pot isn’t the only way to ingest marijuana. The fact does remain the euphoric feelings are what lead some to seek bigger and better highs. I personally have never met one pot user (and I’ve met hundreds) that hasn’t tried harder drugs. As we all know some drugs are brutally unforgiving. I personally can’t and won’t support the legalization of marijuana. As a “Dead Head” for over thirty years and having been exposed to some of the best weed in the world I can honestly say… pot does more damage than good. Do I want my kids smoking pot… NO! If I’m unwilling to expose my kids why would I want to expose society? Now if we are talking about using for legitimate medical reasons that’s different. I have friends in Michigan that have their medical cards and I can tell you everyone of them has a bullshit made up illness and a quack doctor willing to sign off. The next question is where does it stop. What do we legalize next? Alcohol costs society far more then it collects in taxes. What costs will pot bring to society? Let’s win elections based on real issues not by using a drug and societal woes to buy votes.

          1. WB, I’m on the same page with you; pot has been no “friend” of my family..

            But what about a strictly regulated and prescribed medical usage?

            1. There is clear evidence prescribed medical usage has benefits. However, we have seen how well “strictly regulated” prescribed pain medication has worked out. I guess there is an inherent risk any prescribed drug could turn into a gateway drug. So yes I’m for it but there should be strict consequences in place for doctors that overprescribe or misdiagnose.

              1. WB, unfortunately, Wall Street’s private equity firms already control the practices of the vast majority of U.S. physicians, “Wolf Richter: Private Equity Scrambles to Buy Primary Care Doctors, ‘Leverage’ Their Patients.”


                Per Charles R. Morris’, “The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash, those medical practices are doomed.

                “A typical deal: Put up $1 billion, borrow $4 billion more, snap up a hea,thy companyfor $5 billion (after making a very rich deal with its executives), vote yourselves a special dividend” of $1 billion, then as the buyout-fueled stock market keeps rising, sell the company back to the public, pocketing another couple billion, all the while taking no risk. “People talk about a wall of money one banker said, Private equity funds didn’t have to raise capital, it was chasing them.”

                PE firms are also heavily invested in Big Pharma, so they will incentivize all their physicians to prescribe as often and as heavily as possible.

                That’s why I mentioned earlier, prohibition is a gold mine for Big Pharma.

                And thanks to Obama supporting T-PP, aka “NAFTA on steroids,” the plan is to offshore as much of the production of of pharmaceuticals as possible. T-PP also includes patent provisions which allows the owners of those patents to enforce them for longer. Valeant Pharmaceuticals and others are already exploiting the U.S. patent office to jack-up the price on drugs for which less expensive generics are available. Valeant made tons for the hedge funds, because they cut R&D investment. They’re leading Big Pharma’s attempt to socialize all those costs onto the taxpayers. They provide no economic benefit, they exist only to loot health care on behalf of their shareholders. Bill Ackman is largest holder of Valeant stock.

  5. Martha, here’s one for your suggestion box via Nancy.

    Perhaps what we need to inform voters and motivate a great turnout is a “bucket list:” or a concise, easily remembered list of the worst and most harmful legislation and policies by the Walker regime, which need to be repealed or overturned.

    As an example: “Act10; a Republican abortion of the working man rights and a living wage to satisfy the greed of special interests served by Walker et al.”

    The message should go out and repeated using all sources of mass communication and part of every Democrat’s campaign citing the harmful effect on the men, women, and children of Wisconsin by the Walker regime including the current gerrymandered and enabling Republican legislators led by Fitzgerald and Voss. Of course credit should be given also to those Republicans who originated or voted for the unjust or immoral legislation.

    Fortunately, John Gurda,in last Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has provided us with some starters for a “bucket list.”

    I submit this suggestion recognizing many in Wisconsin’s poor economy do not have the time to keep fully informed or recall how Wisconsin’s government has largely become a “government of the special interests, by the special interests, for the special interests.”

    “Oh the humanity!”

  6. WB and D12, I doubt we’ll agree on this, but that won’t change one iota the very high regard in which I hold both of you.

    If your concern is addiction, it makes more sense to reserve scarce law enforcement resources to keeping minors away from alcohol, drugs, gambling, and (non-procreative) sex work. Criminalizing those for adults is the nanny state. I’m not saying they’re right or moral, but where adults are concerned, it’s not the government’s job to enforce.

    Alcohol is legal. Alcoholics Anonymous hasn’t been short of members.

    Federal funding for drug interdiction is obscene. It should be spent on violent crimes, testing the back-logs of rape kits, finding missing kids, preserving the peace. Asking law enforcement to pay for itself with tickets for speeding, jaywalking… is deeply wrong. I’m not saying those folks shouldn’t suffer consequences. I’m not saying lazy elements of law enforcement won’t take advantage of a more enlightened compensation policy.

    I want law enforcement paid better, so there are more professionals like WB. I also want them better supported. That means a federal job guarantee, so anyone who wants a job, regardless of skills, can get one at a federal minimum wage of $15.00. That paves the way for more automation and properly managed, the good-paying jobs it will bring. With all the advancements in productivity, why don’t we have a 35-hour work week?

    We need socialized health insurance for a lot of reasons. It would take a huge burden off the shrinking number of employers who still offer it. The health insurance oligopoly adds no value to patients, hospitals, physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, Big Pharma, or medical device makers. They are nothing but a tax on the system. Per Mosler’s plan, each adult would have a $4,000 annual deductible, a strong incentive to hold down costs. Among other values, those who need mental health/substance abuse resources, could get them. We don’t need any more “family annihilators.” Instead of giving the vast majority of federal welfare to Wall Street, we need to give it to the 99%.
    Mosler’s plan requires no tax dollars.

    Education, a job safety-net, and health insurance are cornerstones of a functioning, healthy society that’s moving forward.

    If you want to keep Scott Walker and the wing nuts running Wisconsin, don’t push for legalization.

    Prohibition is a gold mine for Big Pharma and the drug cartels. It was a mistake with alcohol. It’s a mistake with pot.

    1. John, to repeat or clarify, I do not favor legalization of pot except if there is a some medicinal benefits for end stages of life such as chronic pain.

      Coincidentally, today as I stopped for a refill at a gas station on the interstate, a car with two young men from Colorado were doing the same at an adjoining pump. They rebuffed my effort to engage in some friendly conversation. Hmm!

  7. John,
    I also hold your opinions in “high” regard.
    Please review this link.
    Also, the contribution made by taxing pot is minimal compared to Colorado’s overall budget. Colorado’s 2014 budget was $30.3 billion. In 2013 $11 billion was collected in taxes. The taxes collected in Colorado from the taxation of legalized marijuana amount to $20 to $25 million per year. A mere drop in the bucket and when compared to all the issues being dealt with in the above link. It’s clear Colorado is going to lose money having to control, monitor and deal with ongoing and future issues associated with the legalization of marijuana.

    I agree “Federal funding for drug interdiction is obscene”. However, many state court systems have introduced “drug courts” and are utilizing rehabilitation instead of lock up for drug offenders. Also, I’m not advocating for the enforcement of a nanny state but it’s also not the governments job to enable.

    Let’s win elections based on real issues not by using a drug and societal woes to buy votes.

    1. Sorry, I miss quoted Colorado’s text revenue from legalized marijuana. It appears it’s closer to $70 million per year. Still a drop in the bucket and not enough to compensate for all the “new” issues and associated expenses.

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