It's easy these days to be discouraged as a progressive in Wisconsin. Sometimes it seems that between gerrymandering, the makeup of the state legislature, and the laws coming out of Madison, that there's no real hope for the future.
Last night I was reminded that in fact there really is a growing discontent and that we still have progressive champions wanting to make a difference.
I spent part of last night at a fundraiser for Russ Feingold. I'm happy to report that Russ is in fine spirit and looking ready for battle. There've been a lot of bad mistakes made politically in Wisconsin in the past six years, but none of them is quite so discouraging as seeing Russ Feingold leave office, and having him be replaced by Ron Johnson. I am to this day not quite certain how we, as a state, managed to let that happen.
I spoke to Russ for a little while at the fundraiser, and as always that was a great experience. We couldn't speak very long because the house where this was held was full of over 200 people there to support Russ, financially and spiritually, so of course he was in high demand. Partly we spoke about the Cheddar Bomb fundraiser of 2010, and that it is time to do it again. You may not remember, but this was an attempt to raise as much money as possible for Sen. Feingold in one day on-line. The progressive bloggers in the state had their own fundraising page, and I was amazed to watch the money pour in from all around the country, some of it from well-known people, but most of it just from people who believed in what Russ was doing and who wanted to see him stay in the Senate. We're doing it again - watch this space.
Russ spoke to the crowd- the house was so crowded that many of us could not see him, but most of us could hear. He spoke of hope, of change, and of standing up for the majority of us who are being ignored by government, particularly the small businesses, working people, and the poor. There was a palpable feel of hope and strength in the crowd, and I was, for the first time in quite a while, reminded of the phrase "This is what Democracy looks like."
Russ is not the only progressive candidate looking for your support in 2016, and there is a huge opportunity to work for candidates, donate money to them, and spread the word. If the feeling of excitement last night was any indication, this could be a great year for progressive candidates in Wisconsin and throughout the country. There will not be a fast revolution, and there will be plenty of discouragements. If, however, we work together we can get the great political pendulum swinging back. Hope and change has been demeaned by the right - but it's still alive, and we can all work to bring it back to health. And it starts in living rooms all across the country.