It is almost poetic that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s convention this weekend falls just two days before the 5th anniversary of the failed recall attempt of Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin Democrats have been so marginalized since that crushing defeat that infighting among Republicans on transportation generates most of the drama in Madison these days. Wisconsin has turned deep red since June 5, 2012 and Democrats will be deciding whether to stay the course with Chairperson Martha Laning or pick someone from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. The outcome of that vote likely will determine the significance of another liberal gathering three weeks later in Steven’s Point. That’s where “Our Wisconsin Revolution (OWR)” will be holding its “Founding Convention.”
OWR is essentially stitched together remnants of Bernie Sander’s Wisconsin presidential campaign: its interim organizing committee was comprised of former Sanders delegates. An OWR outline platform draft obtained by Media Trackers leaves little doubt that the Founding Convention will be very much informed by Sanders’ socialist platform. The entire platform is standard liberal fare, but several items reveal a far left socialist agenda:
- Show leadership in combatting (sic) global warming by making Wisconsin energy production fully carbon-free by 2030. This would mean a 100% transition to carbon-free energy production in 13 years.
- Transition to “free” (publicly funded) tuition for all UW and Technical colleges and universities (Yet, just last week Democrats decried continuing a tuition freeze as harmful to students.)
- Recognize housing as a human right and adopt and implement a plan to realize that right for all residents (free housing for all to go with free tuition?).
- … work toward single-payer public system of health care in Wisconsin and nationally.
- explore the feasibility of a state basic income guarantee; and establish a state-sponsored retirement plan for private workers. This idea isn’t new but is gaining traction in liberal thinking. As explained at “The Economist in 2013, an unconditional or “standard” basic income would replace existing anti-poverty (welfare programs). And it appears it would fulfill some liberal Utopian dreams:
Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, believes a UBI provides “the real freedom to pursue the realization of one’s conception of the good life”, whether that means surfing and living small, or trading stocks and living large. Erik Olin Wright, a Marxist sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, posits that a basic income could even hasten a march toward communism (without the messiness of violent revolution) by raising the bargaining power of the proletariat. If you don’t need your job to survive, Mr Wright reasons, you can command a higher salary and better benefits from your boss. Ms Lowrey points out the opposite is also a possibility: McDonald’s has little pressure to pay you a living wage if the government is sending you supplemental cheques every month.
- Widen the sales tax base to include all goods and services outside food, education, and healthcare; make it progressive by raising it steeply on purchases more than twice the median state family income. So, big ticket items would carry a steep sales tax in Wisconsin. It’s hard to imagine auto dealerships on the Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan borders not loving that idea.
The perceived top challenger for the DPW Chair, Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy is a former Sanders delegate. Who wins that race on Saturday likely will determine how closely aligned OWR and the DPW are headed into the 2018 elections.