Fighting Bob Fest


until recently I knew almost nothing about “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, the legendary Wisconsin reformer. From 1901 until 1906 he was our governor; then he served as a US Senator until his death in 1925. Fighting Bob Fest was begun ten years ago to highlight policies that lead to social justice. Some of the nations’ best-known progressives come to speak and attract a big crowd. Last week I attended Madison’s first ever Bob Fest and was inspired by the likes of Bernie Sanders, John Nichols, David Obey, and Thom Hartmann.

I listened to history professor Nancy Unger (author of the award-winning biography Fighting Bob LaFollette: The Righteous Reformer) as she gave us encouragement from the past. Just as LaFollette led an uphill battle to end the class warfare of his time, we’re in the fight of our lives now. We’re fighting so Wisconsin can reclaim national progressive leadership again. Like Fighting Bob we can’t give up.

The stakes are too high, as Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) points out. While the rich get richer, “the crisis of poverty in America is one of the great moral and economic issues facing our country. There are 46 million Americans -- about one in six -- living below the poverty line. That's the largest number on record, according to a new report by the Census Bureau. About 49.9 million Americans lacked health insurance, the report also said. That number has soared by 13.3 million since 2000. According to the latest figures, 21.6 percent of American children live in poverty.”

In Wisconsin today, we are fighting yet another GOP policy designed to hurt the poor. Fighting Bob would oppose SB107, a bill that if passed will roll back decades of progressive legislation for tenant's rights and make it harder than ever for people in poverty to find housing.

We’re the richest nation in the world but our priorities are sadly misplaced.