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The Wisconsin Idea began in 1904 with the belief that research conducted in the University of Wisconsin system should be targeted on improving the life, health and environment of the people of the state. The Idea was expanded into the political arena, led by the famous Bob La Follette, Sr., with the aim of improving the lives of the greatest number of people as possible.  

The election of Scott Walker to Governor, coupled with control of the legislative branch to the a branch of the Republican party enamored with power has seriously jeopardized the Idea. This June we may take back the Governor's House and the Senate.  But if that occurs, what is the plan to restore the Idea?  Here are some of my ideas.

To rekindle the Wisconsin Idea, it is imperative that we establish a course of action that will repair the damage created by the actions of the last 16 months.

1.  Win.

2.  Enact laws that encourage voters instead of disenfranchising them.  With no evidence of any significant voter fraud, we should revert to the previous rules regarding voter registration and voter rules.

3.  Establish a non-partisan redistricting commission to take over this responsibility from the state legislature.

4.  Certain offices previously decided by voters require professionals.    At the state level the offices of Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction should be appointed.  The county office of Corner, Clerk, Treasurer and Sheriff could be professional positions as well.

5.  The question of judicial elections should be addressed.  Are we better served by elected judges or appointed judges?  This is especially true of the Supreme Court.

6.  Pursue an amendment to the Constitution of Wisconsin that guarantees that the right of the people to form trade unions and other professional associations for the purpose of collective bargaining.

7.  Convert BadgerCare to BadgerCare for all and structured along the line of Green Mountain Care, the single payer system of Vermont.  

Wisconsin, Forward!

Sun Apr 15, 2012 at  7:17 AM PT: Addendum:

7.  or MassHealth, whichever best serves the most people.  A non-partisan commission could be utilized to research the topic and make a recommendation.


Originally posted to astroguy on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 07:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republished to... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, ptanow, exterris, Puddytat

    "Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." — Howard Zinn

    by blueyedace2 on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 07:27:10 PM PDT

  •  Well the Cooperative Extension System of Late (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, 3goldens, Puddytat

    1800's coupled with Lincoln's Land Grant University system were developed for similar purposes, C.E. being tasked to distribute ag and home ec knowledge into every county of the nation for farmers and home makers.

    Sounds like the Wisconsin Idea is a natural offshoot on those foundations.

    Yes, we should rekindle all of this.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 07:34:12 PM PDT

  •  If all those offices were appointed... (7+ / 0-)

    We wouldn't have had Doug La Follette as Secretary of State to stand up for us last spring.  We would have had another Walker crony in that position rubber stamping the collective bargaining law in the face of a court order.

    The real problem with Wisconsin right now is all the corporate money flooding the airwaves thanks to.Citizens United.  Feingold, Barrett, and Kloppenburg all lost because they wouldn't or couldn't compete on a level playing field.

    I think having all of these offices filled democratically is a good thing.  The power over government needs to remain in the hands of the people.  If the recalls prove anything it is that the system does work.

    "Ich bin ein Dachs!"

    by PvtJarHead on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 07:34:30 PM PDT

    •  You're exactly right! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Puddytat, PvtJarHead

      "The power over government needs to remain in the hands of the people."

      The problem is not the people electing these officials - it is the money that is poured in by the right wing to buy the elections. Don't take away our chance to elect the best people who are committed to representing us, the people, rather than whoever paid the highest amount to have them appointed to those offices.

      Public financing of elections and overturning Citizens United are the best places to put your efforts if you want the power to be in the hands of the 99% rather than the 1%.

    •  Where have you been? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PvtJarHead

      Missed seeing you around DK and glad you popped up again.

      And I agree with your comment as well.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:57:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's the logic on appointments? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Progressive Forever, Puddytat

    It's not at all clear that appointments gather more competent officials than elections.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 08:01:50 PM PDT

    •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

      We have the worst case scenario in place right now with Walker appointees everywhere.  

      However, I do agree that the State Supreme Court shouldn't be elected - we've seen far too many of those elections won due to the power of RW money to the point that the RWNJs now have the majority.  

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:00:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The history lesson reminds me of a more pleasant (4+ / 0-)

    time in WI.  When sound ideas, rational thinking and a moral compass were common.  Now, we have kooky teapartiers that think stripping workers and women of their rights is progress.

    Forward Badgers!

  •  Appointments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PvtJarHead, 3goldens, Puddytat

    I thought about Secretary of State La Follette.  We certainly owe him our thanks.

    Do we elect Police Chiefs?  Then why Sheriffs?  

    Maybe not all those positions should be appointed.  But maybe some or them should.

    •  I support electing all the county offices on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exterris, Puddytat

      non-partisan ballots. Does it really matter if the Register of Deeds is a Dem or a Repub? I don't think so.

      Farm boy who hit the city to go to college, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -7.88, -4.26, 6/5/2012- the day the great error of Wisconsin history will be corrected!

      by WisJohn on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 08:39:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  impartial justice (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisJohn, 3goldens, Puddytat

    Can we please try having judicial elections with public funding as the "impartial justice" bill (eliminated by Scott Walker) would have mandated?  Only if that doesn't work should we consider appointments.

  •  Pretty much full agreement on all of it, with . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, WisJohn, Puddytat

    . . . a comment or two.

    The notion of elected versus appointed positions is a great discussion begging to be had. I would propose a somewhat more extensive structure.

    There is nothing wrong with appointments. Admittedly the issue of political connivance will always be with us, and the argument that it should be the will of the people making the decisions in every case is powerful. Perhaps a hybrid sort of scheme is worth considering.

    Where appointments are reasonable, and I concur with your notion that professional interests should be served with them, make them for a finite period followed by a confirming referendum to give the voter a voice in the choice. Since there are always elections on a two year cycle, that seems a fine period. Appointments made at any point in that biennial range must be confirmed, and reconfirmed continuously for as long as the service continues. An argument could be made for various terms, but that seems an innocuous thing -- for example, appointment to a court position might be established to the next electoral point, then confirmed for a longer term (to avoid constantly having the pressure of the vote on judicial positions). This restores the people to a consistent role in the management of public affairs, with some ability to respond in good time to the abuses we see today.

    It would be good to establish strict rules of disclosure and accountability for any public service. It seems to me that any law (rule, regulation, whatever) that government requires should come with a concomitant obligation of the government to identify the rights and authorities of the citizens being affected, and a swift, available method for those mistreated or harmed by malicious use (or misuse) of those laws to have a fair recourse.

    Your whole notion of thinking ahead is well worth the time and effort it may require. I hope it does gain traction.

    The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

    by semiAdult on Sat Apr 14, 2012 at 09:33:31 PM PDT

  •  Appointed SC judges are fine so long as...ra (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Progressive Forever, Puddytat

    ... said appointments have a built-in sunset date and are NOT position you hold for a lifetime or until you feel like abdicating like they are for the Federal Supreme Court.

    Judges should last a lot longer than normal elected positions, but that duration should never be "the rest of your life'.

    I'd be in favor of a system that appoints, but only for a term somewhere in the range of 6 to 10 years.  One of the big problems with the Federal Supreme court right now is that because the need to fill new positions just so happened to coincide with the times Republicans were in power more often that they happened to coincide with the times Democrats were in power, the court is much more right-leaning than the country as a whole is.

  •  What about them? (0+ / 0-)

    The question is why was Walker elected in the first place and why is it still a close election after all that he has done? As much as it would be lovely to ignore the other half(?) or to think on their behalf, how are they going to see and understand and value the logic of your proposals and the logic of trying to improve the lives, health and environment of Wisconsin and its citizens?

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