This article was originally featured in Jacobin.
By Stephanie Luce
Despite our cynicism about electoral politics, the Left needs political parties. The Right’s rising power and momentum throughout the world gives us a stark reminder of the practical effects of our lack of a party of our own in the United States.Although it might feel like we’re starting from scratch, we can learn from real experiments. One example is Progressive Dane, a political party formed in 1992 in Madison, Wisconsin.
A New Party
Progressive Dane is named after Dane County, where Madison is located. The party began when Joel Rogers, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dan Cantor, a longtime political organizer, put forward the idea of a “New Party.”
The New Party hoped to revive fusion voting as tool for building a party. Fusion voting allows a candidate to run on two ballot lines, allowing voters to vote for a third party without feeling that their vote for that party was wasted or a “spoiler” in the election, doing little to build a viable political alternative but helping bring a potentially worse alternative to power — dilemmas that otherwise plague third parties under the American winner-take-all system. This allows the party to work inside and outside the Democratic Party at the same time. Continue reading What Happens If We Win?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Some Americans known him from his short stint as an also-ran in the race for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Most on the left also know him as one of the more loathsome state executives around: an enemy of public unions who proudly boasts about his ability to ignore the unified voices of protestors and destroy collective bargaining rights in his state.
On Friday, Walker suffered a setback, as the right-to-work law that he championed and bragged about during his run for the nomination was struck down for violating the constitution. From Crain’s:
Three unions filed the lawsuit last year shortly after Walker signed the bill into law. Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Twenty-four other states have such laws.
The unions argued that Wisconsin’s law was an unconstitutional seizure of union property since unions now must extend benefits to workers who don’t pay dues. Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed.
He said the law amounts to an unconstitutional governmental taking of union funds without compensation since under the law unions must represent people who don’t pay dues. That presents an existential threat to unions, Foust wrote.
“While (union) losses today could be characterized by some as minor, they are not isolated and the impact of (the law) over time is threatening to the unions’ very economic viability,” he wrote.
Foust noted that no other state court had struck struck down a right-to-work law on those grounds, but said he wasn’t obligated to follow other states.
Republicans who backed the law dismissed the ruling, saying it will be reversed.
Read more at Crain’s.
Photo by Michael Vadon via flickr (CC-BY-SA)
Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that the much-reviled Act 10 does not violate the constitution. This law strips most public sector employees of their collective bargaining rights by “limit[ing] bargaining rights to issues only involving base wages, ban[ning] some government employers from automatically taking union fees from employee paychecks, and requir[ing] yearly recertification standards,” among other restrictions.
This decision came alongside a ruling requiring photo identification at the voting booth.
Photo by Gateway Technical College via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND).