Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Mike McCabe on Organizing at the Grassroots level to bring about Political Change; the Darkness before the Dawn; his Vision (and obvious love) for Wisconsin; a Living Wage, Healthcare for All, Debt-free Education and High-Speed internet everywhere in the State of Wisconsin; Paying one’s fair share of Taxes; Election-Finance reform and Legal Bribery; a David versus Goliath campaign; Journalism, MSM, Net neutrality and Democracy.
Mike McCabe is a very progressive candidate who is running in the Democratic Party and seeking through this election in 2018 to become Governor of Wisconsin. He was first interviewed by #WeThePeople on December 20th, 2017.
We start by watching Mike’s campaign ad, in which he lets us know that this is the farm where he grew up and learned about life, and that this is the place that made him who he is. Places like this - he says, are treated by those who run things at the State Capitol as if they don’t even exist. They have been forgotten and ignored – he tells us, and the people who live in places like this don’t have lobbyists working for them at the State Capitol. They don’t hold $1,000 a plate fundraising dinners, and in any case have the common sense to realize that there is no plate of food worth that. We’re close to 200 miles from the State Capitol, but it might as well be a million and that’s why I’m running – Mike says. We’ve got to have a government that works for all of us, no matter where you live in Wisconsin – he points out. Wisconsin is up to its eyeballs in problems, but those problems grow out of inequality, out of political economic inequality. Our society is being made more and more elitist all the time and we are being divided as a people into Royals and Commoners.
John opens by telling us that Mike is running against Scott Walker and what looks like half of Wisconsin (14 candidates have withdrawn. There are 7 other Democrats besides Mike remaining, 2 Republicans including the Incumbent Governor Scott Walker, 1 Libertarian, 1 Green Party candidate, 1 Independent and 1 from the Wisconsin Party … so 14 candidates are left in the race.).
You have been working in public service for a long time. Why did you choose to run against Scott Walker now – John asks? I have been in public service for a long time - Mike answers, but not as an elected official. I have worked as an independent watchdog. I’ve spent decades exposing and trying to break the grip of big money in politics here in Wisconsin. I helped start a group called the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - way back in 1995. Eventually I became that group’s Director and led it for 15 years before passing the baton to new leadership. Then I started another non-profit citizen(s) group called Blue Jean Nation which is aimed at organizing citizens at the local grassroots level to work to force the political establishment to change its ways and so make political change that way. That’s awesome – John says. Thank you for your service. I appreciate that. Explain a little more about Blue Jean Nation and what you do – John encourages him, and he tells Mike that he loves the concept.
Slide: “Blue Jean Nation is working to promote the transformation of democratic institutions that are failing America and (to) reinvigorate our republic through community outreach, civic education and engagement, grassroots organizing, public policy advocacy and social action.”
We have 3 big aims - Mike tells us. The first is to get people in communities to create opportunities for people who may not necessarily be birds of a feather to talk to each other and listen to each other and hash out their differences. The second is to get people to enter rather than flee political parties and work for change within those parties. Finally, we try to inspire people to run for office at whatever level … This last aim came back to bite me because an awful lot of people who were drawn into this movement said – Mike, we need you to run too … and for Governor! For quite a while my answer was - Hell no! That had not been what he had wanted to do, but - he says, they didn’t take no for an answer and that was at once interesting and inspiring. It gives me tremendous energy every day watching all the activity and the organizing of meetings and volunteer trainings. It is breathtaking, refreshing and inspiring, and we’re a long way from Election Day in 2018 (12/20/2017) – Mike tells us. One of your aims is to get people “to enter political parties” you say, so this is not something then that is limited to one party – John asks? It doesn’t have to be limited to any one party – says Mike and I’ve talked a lot about the need for a first-party movement in our country.
Slide: “A first-party movement works within the two-party system and focuses on making sure there is at least one that is truly dedicated to doing the will of the people.”
America has a very strong two-party system which discriminates against Independents and Third Parties. Wisconsin is no exception to that rule. It’s winner take all. Bernie Sanders - even though he’s an Independent and not a member of the Democratic Party, made a choice to run within the Democratic Primaries and Caucuses and I think given the system we have, he had the greatest impact doing it the way he did – Mike tells us. Now Mike himself has chosen to run as a Democrat - even though he has not been a member of any political party over the course of his whole adult life. As an independent watchdog I’ve called out Democrats and Republicans when I’ve seen wrong-doing or unethical behavior and I make no apologies for that or for the work I’ve done to expose the influence of big money in our political system – he says. I think by running now as a Democrat, it’s the way to give the people of Wisconsin the best chance to make the biggest difference. I love it – John answers. I’m going to guess you’re a Bernie Sanders fan? I am – replies Mike. I was very inspired by what Bernie did at a national level and I strongly want to replicate that at State level and all the way down to local office. It’s incredibly important to do that.
So far the response to his campaign has been good in Wisconsin. We’ve already traveled – he says, over 15,000 miles here; held close to 80 public events all over the State and (much) more besides, just in these first three months (12/20/2017). In engaging and talking to as many people as possible, I’m really trying to make this campaign a twenty-first century version of a Bill Proxmire campaign – Mike continues. Bill was a maverick Progressive who won elections here for 30 years. He never ran a campaign that cost more than 300$. This he did against big money opposition and he won his last campaign in a landslide. I know this is a different era and you can’t run the campaign exactly as he did. We are going to raise a lot more money, but we are doing it with very small donations. A lot of people are willing to give small amounts and then give of their time and their energy as well. This is going to be a very grassroots, crowdfunded, people-powered campaign. It has to be because we need to create a really vivid contrast between the billionaire tycoons that are behind Scott Walker and a campaign that is authentically of, by and for the People. You sound like a Berniecrat Mike and that’s a compliment (of course) – says John. Thank you for doing what Bernie did and reminding us of what it means to be a Representative. I love the “enter” positioning because the parties are just vehicles – John adds and Mike nods in agreement. Right now the Democratic Party is like a listless ghost ship that has resources and we just need to take it over and use it - John says.
Mike tells us that he wrote a book a few years back, called Blue Jeans in High Places and he subtitled it, the coming makeover of American politics. He quotes from it now: “We really have one party in America that is scary, and another that is scared.” Interestingly – he says, in all the times I’ve used that line I’ve never had anyone ask me which one is which. The extent to which the scared party - the party that has been timid and reluctant to be unashamed of its own governing philosophy, is scared, actually enables and helps the other party become increasingly scary. There is a symbiosis there. This is no time for being timid or standing on the sidelines. This is a moment – Mike says, that is a very dangerous and challenging moment in our country’s history. This is (a time to stand up and be counted). It seems to me that there is a giant rift in the Democratic Party between those who have moral standing and are trying to uphold values and those that to me are no different than the Republican Party in that they are taking money and their money interests are (shown) – John opines. Mike though sees this growing rift as a sign of hope, because that means that there is active tension within the Democratic Party between those who are seeking to shake it up, transform it and make it a real progressive force in the country (and those who aren’t). There is a sizable canyon between party establishment and party grassroots … and I increasingly see evidence of the grassroots asserting themselves and working to gain power within the party - Mike emphasizes. Those are remarkably healthy signs. John says that he agrees and adds that he has only been woke since Bernie Sanders, unlike Mike who has been working on this for a lot longer than that. John says that people like him are starting to see hope after two years of dismalness, and asks whether after decades working (to improve the world about him), things really do look promising to Mike right now in terms of an ability to shift some seats in 2018 and 2020? Mike smiles and says that sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn - John and Laura chuckle. One of the things that I remind people of in Wisconsin – he tells John, Laura and everyone, is that at the tail end of the McCarthy era there were all the Red Scare tactics and some really bleak reactionary politics which held sway in our State, and the Democrats were even more out of power than they are now. However within a few short years all that had changed and Gaylord Nelson became Governor of Wisconsin. He was the founder of Earth Day. We can draw inspiration and comfort from history because we’ve seen bleak conditions before - certainly in Wisconsin, and yet that has often led to waves of reform and a renaissance. I see indications that that is possible again in our State and I want to be a part of making it happen. Thank you – John says. I like that. I didn’t know about that history. That’s awesome.
Any questions from the audience Laura – he asks? Laura first gives a shout-out to all the Wisconsinites in YouTube chat, and Mike and John smile. I have one from Froz – she says. What can you do to support collective bargaining rights for Wisconsinites? Mike thinks it should be Wisconsin’s role to make union representation available and possible for far more people. Right now only 1 in 10 workers in America has union representation and that number is one in 15 if you consider only the private sector. There have of course been assaults on unionization and collective bargaining in particular here in Wisconsin – he says. We need to reverse course and make union representation a possibility for far more workers, and as we do that in the Wisconsin government, we must make sure to do it for all workers in every sector of the economy. We need to be not just pro-union, but pro-worker. Governor Walker has been very skillful at engaging in divide-and-conquer politics that pits one group of workers against another group of workers. We need to take actions to empower people who don’t and probably won’t have union representation in the foreseeable future. So I’m a big supporter of the goal of a living wage for every worker and increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour in our State. That fight is so incredibly important to put more money in the pockets of working people and empower workers in every sector of our economy - whether, union or non-union. You are really talking about protections for workers and taking care of our working class, something which hasn’t happened for quite some time across the United States - John comments.
Slide: This one is about a Scott Walker deal:
The $60 million Foxconn fund deposit deal is being sold as something that will be great for the economy. Does it do anything for Wisconsin - John asks? I think it’s a desperation move, a classic example of corporate welfare – Mike replies. It’s been unfortunately an approach that Wisconsin has relied on for quite some time. The money doesn’t filter down … we have to do a complete 180 and work at building that vibrant and sturdy economy from the bottom up by empowering 5.5 million people in Wisconsin to do more for themselves, each other, their families and for our State. You do that by creating an economy where if you work you won’t be poor. This means a living wage for every worker; healthcare for all; debt-free education for everyone and high-speed internet everywhere. Over half of rural Americans don’t have access to high speed internet. How can you fully participate in the 21st century economy, or even in modern American life without that basic 21st century tool? So many parts of our State don’t have it. We have to bring it to people. We have to commit ourselves to making Wisconsin a place committed to a clean-energy economy. Our goal should be to become the first State in the country fully powered by renewable energy. Those are the kinds of investments that can create an economic stimulus. We must deal with the unfortunate reality in Wisconsin that we are leading the nation in terms of how much the middle class has shrunk. We are dead last in the nation in new business start-ups for 3 straight years and we have levels of economic inequality in Wisconsin not seen here since the Great Depression. When we empower working people, and as working people spend the money that they will then have in their pockets, it stimulates the economy. There are going to have to be people selling what they want to buy. That will have ripple effects throughout our economy and that will enrich us all - Mike explains. I agree with that - says John, but have you seen what just came out today (12/20/2017)? A lot of corporations are saying that they are taking the big GOP tax money rebates and giving it back to their employees through various bonuses, rebates and stuff. They are trying to claim that this is trickle-down functioning. Do you think this will have an impact on the race? It may be a symbolic gesture but when you talk to people in Wisconsin, this tax plan is spectacularly unpopular in most parts of the State – Mike replies calmly. It is seen as more handouts to the rich, more giveaways to the wealthy, the well-connected and the privileged few. People don’t see much coming their way and as with this Foxconn deal they know they are on the hook for paying for their share of $3 billion worth of handouts to the group. These are classical trickle-down moves by the Republicans. It’s the kind of policy that has led to this slow but steady extermination of the middle class in our State, where it’s not just the Federal tax cut that is the problem. If you look at all the State and local taxes paid in Wisconsin, you will see that the wealthiest 1% pays the lowest overall tax rate. That’s got to change! We have to have a State and local tax system requiring all of us to pay our fair share, and that means increasing taxes on the rich - no question about it.
Laura has another question from Froz. What do you think about all the new manufacturing contracts that have come (into) Wisconsin (after Trump through Ryan) - military contracts in Oshkosh for example? Well - Mike says, if you look at the big picture in Wisconsin, we are actually losing manufacturing jobs, and have in recent years pushed through a manufacturing tax credit that was a classic example of a feed the rich sort of approach. In fact the big benefit went to just 11 (tax-filers). Wow - says John. The benefits went to multi-billionaires across our State – Mike continues. More companies are actually leaving Wisconsin or shrinking their workforces, than coming in. And this used to be an industrial powerhouse! Wisconsin used to have an incredibly strong manufacturing base. We won’t be able to change these levels of economic inequality if we don’t get to the root cause of this problem and that is the election campaigns that are being bankrolled by those multi-millionaires and billionaires who are benefiting from these government giveaways. And so we get back to election-finance reform. This has been my life’s work – Mike says. Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is an independent watchdog that not only tracks the money in politics and exposes the transactions between big donors and government officials, but seeks to reform that system and create a system of Voter-Owned elections, which blunts the influence of big money. Legally in Wisconsin a candidate for Governor can take a $20,000 donation from an individual or an $86,000 check from a Political Action Committee. I feel obligated to lead by example. Those checks have strings attached and expectations that accompany them. They amount to legal bribes. My campaign isn’t taking any donation over $200. Supporters will be allowed to give more than once, but no more than a total of $1,000 through a whole campaign. Bernie Sanders showed us it can be done – Mike tells us. Doing this program – John says, I’ve interviewed many, many people running for every race you can think of. What I hear a lot is the number. What does it cost on average to win that race? It costs so much for a Senator, so much for a Governor … and those are ridiculous sums of money for public servant jobs – he says. Mike had a street-corner conversation in La Crosse, Western Wisconsin recently, with a gentleman who told him that some other Democratic candidate in the race had said that it would take $30,000,000 to beat Scott Walker. My response was that money is not going to beat Scott Walker. He will have more than anybody. This needs to be a David versus Goliath contest. The Democrats spent $12 million, then $22 million and then $33 million in the last 3 elections trying to beat Scott Walker, yet he got the same percentage of the vote each time! A David versus Goliath grassroots campaign is the only way to get out of this trap that we are in. I 100% agree and love everything you said just there – says John. What you just described though is every Democratic race I can remember recently. There is an impulse among too many Democrats to say that any Democrat will do – Mike responds, but a corporate Democrat, a stand- for-nothing Democrat, a sold-out Democrat isn’t the answer. Many people in Wisconsin look at today’s Democratic Party and conclude that the Democrats are not on their side. I grew up in an area that once voted heavily Democratic and now votes overwhelmingly Republican - and I understand why. They feel they’ve been written off and forgotten. So they figure, keep the government as small as possible and taxes as low as possible because that’s the best they can hope for. So, what party is their default option during election time? We need to make them a much better offer. We have local towns that are digging up the pavements and putting down gravel because they can’t afford to keep filling their own potholes. Go down the gravel road that leads past our old farm and you’ll still see the evidence of rural electrification brought to his neighborhood by FDR and the Democrats, but you can’t get an internet connection and you can’t get a mobile phone signal. (John loves the analogy between the past and the present.) The people are angry about it and that plays into the Republicans’ hands and into the anti-government message. And any Democrat will not do, because for the people from where I’m from, they have a hard time thinking of any Democrat they could support. However when Bernie Sanders was running for President I was fascinated by the amount of Sanders signs I saw out in farm fields (and front lawns) in small rural towns across our State. And when Sanders didn’t get the nomination those signs came down and they weren’t replaced by Hilary Clinton signs, and Donald Trump signs littered the landscape. John laughs and sighs. I think what we are learning Mike – he says, is not only do we need to make an offer, but we need to become the party. We all need to run for something.
Our volunteer crew works hard on making these slides – John says. This one tells us more about Mike McCabe.
Slide: He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism in 1982. He was honored by same in 2005, with the distinguished Service Award. He also spent six years working as communications director and legislative liaison for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Before that, he ran a statewide civic education program for the non-profit Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. He worked as a newspaper reporter and as a legislative aid to 3 Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly. In addition he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African country of Mali.
John is delighted to be able to talk about journalism. Things have changed since FDR’s day – he starts, adding that he loves the shirt Mike wore in one of the photos - which had “Neither elephant nor ass” on it. John now shows another slide by way of an introduction to a discussion on the Telecommunication Act of 1996 - which was repealed, and the Fairness Doctrine - which was replaced. At this point he reminds the audience that the Fairness Doctrine forced news networks that were using the airwaves for free - because they belonged to us, to provide fair and balanced news. It was repealed by Reagan’s (administration) in 1987 with the blessings of the Democrats. This allowed news agencies to no longer provide equal information and to be biased. There is apparently a recent push by Congress to restore it. The Telecommunication Act of 1996 did some things that were okay, but mostly it allowed the consolidation of our media networks, and there are only 5 remaining today - John says, before continuing. Also, now that we’ve got net neutrality being destroyed, it does present an opportunity for us to create local ISPs. What do you think about all of this and the future of the narrative, Mike? The loss of the Fairness Doctrine – Mike responds, has changed journalism tremendously. To be honest with you, it was a major reason why I worked to start the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Journalism was changing and media organizations were no longer doing the kind of investigative reporting about ... the influence of money in politics in places like Wisconsin for example. So it was left to citizens to start non-profit organizations to fill that void, so what I essentially did in the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign was investigative journalism. As for net neutrality I personally would like to see Wisconsin become one of the States that is suing the FCC over this issue.
Slide: We see a cartoon fish with Competition written on its forehead which is about to be swallowed up by a mean looking shark which is labeled Media Giants.
To me net neutrality is the First Amendment of the Internet – Mike tells us. It is the heart and soul of internet freedom and I think that a fair and open internet is critically important to democracy, and it’s a tool that future generations of Americans can use to transform American politics - if it remains a free and open tool. It is critically important to 21st century journalism, and it wouldn’t have been possible for the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign to do what it did without internet freedom. Our organization created the first online searchable database of campaign contributors in Wisconsin. We gave people the ability to seek to follow the money and to see how money is influencing our politics, with one internet search. I feel very strongly – he says, about the need to fight for more media diversity and that’s why I applaud efforts like yours (John smiles) to bring voices to people not only in this country but around the world, that otherwise wouldn’t be heard because of the consolidation and homogenization of MSM in our country. I’m glad you mentioned MSM – John says, because we can talk a little about what is happening right now in the latest ruling where Sinclair Media is now basically allowed to own every local news station in America if they want. It’s frightening, and you know about the messages that they show all across their networks. Everyone is repeating that (same) narrative. In 2016 (in contrast to what you saw with the signs in Wisconsin) MSM controlled the information that Wisconsinites were hearing. That there – Mike answers, is the biggest single problem with media consolidation, with the concentration of media ownership in fewer and fewer hands. It homogenizes the news and information. There isn’t the diversity of information nor of opinion that there needs to be - both of which are critical to a healthy working democracy. Well said – says John, and I agree 200%. The news I grew up with which did have opinion and offered viewpoint became news for ratings purposes. How much of a circus can we make it? How many bells and whistles can we add to it? And then there is the pushing of the narrative … Thank you. I really appreciate your commentary on that, and I appreciate all the work you have done so far on helping to open up our government in terms of information – says John. Any questions Laura Livengood? No there aren’t – she replies.
Mike, thank you for being here! You’ve been awesome – John says. It’s been a pleasure - replies Mike. I really appreciate the opportunity and it’s been great talking with you. Laura is surprised at how fast the time went by. So Mike, you have Scott Walker to go up against – John says. I really don’t think the Republicans have that much of a chance this time, and you have a gaggle of Democrats also running and I’ve no idea which one the Establishment is going to drop their chunk of change on. You are running a People’s campaign, the way Bernie Sanders ran it. Tell everyone why they should vote for you.
We might end up with a Baskin-Robbins (ice cream) Primary here in Wisconsin – Mike says. There might be (…) flavors on the Democratic side by the time all is said and done. He expects that more candidates will still join the race. However Scott Walker – he says, can’t be taken lightly as he’s been elected Governor 3 times and is a very formidable and shrewd politician with all the money he needs behind him. The Democrats I see lining up are very accomplished people, but they all seem very comfortable operating within the political system as it currently functions and all seem at peace with the political culture in our State as it is – and I’m not. I think the political culture in Wisconsin has been poisoned and the political system is working really, really well for the rich and powerful, but failing the rest of our population who are without a voice or (any) opportunity to be authentically represented. We need to offer something that makes them feel really good about themselves for a change. “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna settle for being the lesser of evils.” I want to give people a vision of what Wisconsin has the potential to become and how we reach that potential, but particularly to give people an opportunity to see how they can get in the driver’s seat of our government and actually have the ability to be governed by people who will put their values into State policy. A grassroots campaign can be done but it requires that many of us – myself included, take a leap of faith so that we can break out of the poisoned environment that has plagued our politics here in Wisconsin and has tarnished our State’s reputation as a beacon of clean and open and honest government. I want to see Wisconsin deserve that reputation again.
That’s awesome – says John. I think Wisconsin was ready with Bernie Sanders and they didn’t get an opportunity and now they will definitely be ready with you. Tell everyone how they can help you… Mike invites everybody to visit his website and take a look at the long list of volunteer opportunities to choose from (12/20/2017), mentions crowd-funding (small donations) etc.
Mike’s chosen song is no surprise! It’s Neil Diamond’s Forever in Blue Jeans. I grew up wearing blue jeans and I’ll campaign, be inaugurated and govern in blue jeans – Mike tells us. And I’m not going to live in the Governor’s mansion once elected and I’m not going to take the full salary of the Governor. I will be paid $1 less than the average Wisconsin worker makes when I’m Governor. I love the blue jeans part – John says. Same reason I wear my (Carter) cardigan. I do say if you are going to take an average worker’s wage in Wisconsin though, you might want to think about the free housing even if you don’t want the mansion. They laugh. I’ll do just fine. I’ll make it – Mike smiles. I hope you win Mike McCabe – John states. Thank you so much for being on the program. We’d like to have you back, so shall we talk to you next year? It’s a deal! – Mike says with a smile.
The links are in the video description. Good luck Mike McCabe on August 14th, 2018!
Mike McCabe on BadgerCare for All; Wisconsin’s Choice; Money-power and its stranglehold on the Capitol; a State bank; seeing the Governor as Servant not Master; a five-year path to a Living wage for All; People-power; Basic Income and looking to the Future; fully legalizing Marijuana; re-examining the Drug laws and Halving the Prison population in Wisconsin; the Northwoods of Wisconsin; ICE and a Driver-card for All program.
On July 16th, 2018 #WeThePeople interviewed Mike McCabe for a second time. He is a very progressive and farsighted candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. The Primary is now just a few weeks away.
Slide: McCabe – Principle over Party.
Mike’s campaign ad shows him in Curtiss, Wisconsin - sitting on a stool in the garden. We see different images of the farm he grew up on and where he announced that he was running for Governor. He speaks of decades of corporate welfare as a State strategy and the hope that some of the money would trickle down to the rest of the population. He wants to do the opposite - he says, and build from the bottom up. He wants to restructure the tax system and apply the common sense rule that if a program doesn’t work, we should get rid of it. By doing that – Mike says, we can have the resources that we need to pay for Healthcare for All, debt-free education and internet to every household. That would empower 5 million people in this State to do much more for themselves and for each other than showering corporate welfare on a few thousand people. The reality is that small business creates most new jobs and small business will I think – Mike tells us, be the foundation of a really sturdy economy where people can work and be in the middle class. The BadgerCare program which is available to so few, should be available to all people living in Wisconsin. Focus on what we are for and not on what we are against – he says. I think with that we will give the people of Wisconsin a great gift, a great opportunity that they haven’t been given in a very long time.
John starts by saying that a lot of people have been watching Mike’s original #WeThePeople interview, and adds that he likes the campaign ad we’ve just seen. There is nothing negative about it – very Bernie. Laura liked the “support what you love” part. John greets everyone in chat. How has it been Mike? A remarkable journey so far – Mike replies. We have traveled almost 90,000 miles to every nook and cranny of our State. We have held hundreds of events and probably participated in at least 30 maybe close to 40 candidate forums in every part of Wisconsin. It’s been non-stop and I won’t lie to you (it gets old) traveling that many miles, but the stops have been fantastic and the response to our campaign has been unreal. We joke that if we could somehow arrange a sit-down meeting with a million people we could have a one-day campaign and I think we’d win this thing. John smiles. I believe you – he says. Tell everyone about that debate you just did. There’s a cooperative arrangement between Our Wisconsin Revolution and the Working Families Party – Mike tells us. They call it Wisconsin’s Choice, and what they’ve done is they’ve had a whole bunch of forums all around the State and invited people to come in. They also held virtual forums online and recorded comments from all the candidates. Wisconsin had a huge field of candidates on the Democratic side initially. There was a first round of voting for this Wisconsin’s-Choice process online, that narrowed the field to 9 candidates, and a 2nd round of voting brought that down to 4. The final 4 just took part in a forum last night. We had a debate behind the 4 finalists - the people who were really seen as the most progressive options in this race. Their aim is to eventually have this third and final round of voting to identify what they call the People’s Champion - a candidate who would really represent the hopes for progressive progress in Wisconsin. So I’m right in that mix and that’s a great feeling. That’s awesome - says John, for two reasons. One, because quite frankly I think you are fantastic and your message is excellent. And two, it’s good to see the unity and the planning instead of organizations pitting Progressives against each other! I think we are learning that lesson the hard way. We certainly did in Oregon with our Primary where we had a number of Progressives that should have been running in different races instead of fighting for the same seat. I think the biggest problem here in Wisconsin – Mike says, is that for quite some time the Democratic Party has tried to clear the field for a single candidate and then to raise a huge amount of money to run negative ads against Scott Walker. He has faced candidates who didn’t inspire or excite voters. This time it is shaping up differently. There is a very hotly contested Primary coming up on August 14th on the Democratic side. I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been rising in the polls and gaining traction and I’m in really good shape here. Absolutely – John says, you really are polling well and are neck and neck with Walker - and that’s without recognition! (Some) people are only just getting to know him now, but the latest Marquette University poll (June 2018), the one the Media in Wisconsin pays the most attention to - Mike tells us, puts him in second place overall to the Democrat who had the most name recognition starting out. Mike himself started as a virtual unknown. And the polls also say that Mike is the strongest Democrat against Walker. But the truer indication to me is that we - Mike says, have over 2500 volunteers who have come out of the woodwork and are taking matters into their own hands in every part of the State. (John is impressed.) Reaching out neighbor to neighbor and connecting with voters - that’s the thing that I think is most thrilling – Mike enthuses! We don’t have big money on our side, but when it comes to people-power then ours is the richest campaign by far. That’s very encouraging to hear - says John, because you’re not going to beat Walker or the Democratic Party favorite with cash. That by the way is one of the interesting things that has happened – Mike says. Two of the candidates with the most money, failed to gain any traction. They were either stagnant in the polls or dropping and so they decided to suspend their campaigns and withdraw from the race. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was outspent 10 to 1 and down in the last poll before the election - by like 36 percentage points, and she goes on to win. It’s a sign of the times. It’s happening all around the country and I’m seeing the same thing playing out in Wisconsin. Even in a State that still thinks Scott Walker is doing somewhat of a good job (according to the latest poll), money in politics is an issue across the board - John says. Mike agrees and says that Democrats, Republicans and Independents understand that our government has been taken hostage by big money interests all around the State and that that money-power has a stranglehold on the Capitol. By the way Mike, (YouTube) Chat is very encouraged by this and we needed something to pick us up – John tells him. He then talks about the viewer statistics for Mike on his first #WeThePeople interview and compares them to Bernie’s and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s. It had really great viewer retention, which means – John says, that your message is resonating!
Deniz from Germany has a couple of questions - Laura says. Would you support a State bank that would give grants and loans with no interest, to support worker-owned businesses or other projects? Mike answers that the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (that he helped found) had exposed the influence of big money in politics and corruption in the Wisconsin government, and worked for all kinds of democracy reforms from redistricting reform to voting rights … I frequently blogged and spoke at that time – he says, about the State bank of North Dakota (John and Laura are happy he brings this up.) and held it up as a model that WI should take a really good look at, in how to keep our capital here in the State and keep it in the hands of the people of this State and use it to help benefit Wisconsin - whether by helping local farmers, or helping entrepreneurs gain a foothold and make some good things happen in starting small businesses. I’ve been fond of the model of the State Bank of ND for many, many years. You know, there is a candidate for State Treasurer who got in touch with me about her run for that office and I told her to go out there and talk about a State bank. That office has had its duties really stripped by ruling Republicans and we actually had a statewide referendum recently about whether to abolish the elected State Treasurer’s Office. Wow - says Laura! The people of Wisconsin were propagandized heavily about how useless this office was and how it should be abolished – but they said no, they wanted to keep it and now there are a number of candidates running for the office. I’ve said that that would be a great role for the State Treasurer to take on, leading the way in terms of the formation of a State bank here in Wisconsin.
We have another question from Deniz. Thanks for staying awake Deniz - says Mike. We have an international audience and they are really concerned over there in Europe about what is going on here – John says. Understandably - acknowledges Mike. Oz donates in (YouTube) Chat with the comment “For Mike’s audience retention numbers”. John reminds anyone watching that this is a user-supported network, just like Mike’s is a people-supported campaign. Everyone here is taking small donations to survive and to change our government. So thank you to everyone who can donate to us, and to Mike. So, to get back to Deniz’s question. Do you still stand by (what you said about) not moving into the Governor’s mansion and only getting paid what the average worker makes – Laura asks? Yes I do – Mike replies. I live in a 1,400 square foot home - the biggest house I have ever lived in in my life. It doesn’t feel right to me to move into a 20,000 square foot mansion just for winning an election, and besides I really think Governors should be servants and not masters. I’ll continue to live in my own home. I will also hold to being paid $1 less than the average Wisconsin worker makes. I need to lead by example and practice what I have preached all these years. John and Laura thank him for that position.
(Expanding electrons) has a question about drugs. We’ll get there - John says. We just did the live stream about Bernie Sanders, income inequality and fighting for a living wage. Believe it or not Mike - don’t know if you caught any of that but, none of the CEOs showed up! Ah - says Mike with a smile. Thank you to the volunteers at Uphill Media who take so much time to make this content (slides) for our show - John says (looking ahead), and that includes the German volunteers.
Slide: McCabe charts a five-year path to living wage for all workers.
Tell us more - says John. I want - Mike says, for Wisconsin to commit itself to erasing the term working-poor from our vocabulary. If you work you belong in the middle class with a living wage; healthcare-for-all; debt-free education and job training; and high-speed internet everywhere. What I’ve done is put forward a plan that does set us on a path to getting us all to $15 an hour within 5 years. In year 1 it would be raised to $9.50 an hour like our neighbors Minnesota and Michigan, which have both boosted their minimum wages. We are still at $7.25 an hour which is the lowest wage federal law allows. The minimum wage will be boosted every year for 5 years until it we are at $15 an hour. John is conscious that $15 an hour is already a compromise and starts to say so. Mike is aware of that though. Those people at $7.25 an hour need 3 jobs to afford housing and that’s disgraceful and certainly not what I would call the Wisconsin way – Mike says. To really afford housing you’ve got to get up there to $20 something an hour in our State. Obviously we need to significantly boost the wage floor and that will have ripple effects all through the wage scale and will help boost wages for everybody in all areas of our economy. We absolutely have to do that. Economic prosperity doesn’t trickle down, it gushes up - geyser economics I call it. Working class money goes back into the economy. We need to stoke supply from the ground up – Mike tells us. I consider, that the centerpiece of my campaign is to empower working people and deal with the issue of inequality in our State – he says. If I’m not mistaken – John adds, every State that has increased wages has seen an economic boom and the businesses haven’t all fled those States either. We have to change the conversation – Mike comments. There has been this propaganda for decades if not generations that raising wages will kill jobs and hurt the economy. It’s the opposite. Our neighbors upped their minimum wages and we haven’t seen their businesses fleeing to set up shop here! I take that conversation on, as a real responsibility of leadership – he says.
Another worry that people have – John says, is small businesses and overburdening them as we increase wages. You mention BadgerCare. The two are interconnected. You have to deal with healthcare if you are going to raise wages and deal with employees. I want a national solution ultimately - says Mike. I want a Single-Payer Medicare for All approach in America. But I’m running for Governor, so my job is to make Wisconsin a national model for the rest of the country to follow. This is the way we have to do it. Take the Federal Medicaid-Expansion money that was offered but turned down by the Walker Administration here in Wisconsin. That could make over 80,000 more people eligible for BadgerCare and get them that health insurance. The second mistake we have to correct is Wisconsin’s choice to not set up its own State Health Insurance Exchange under the ACA – and doing that would free us up to take the third step which is making BadgerCare a public option, putting it on that State Health Insurance Exchange and letting anybody choose to enroll regardless of income. Let anybody buy into BadgerCare. The latest figures – Mike continues, that I have seen show that BadgerCare’s overall cost is close to 40% lower than what is out there in the private health-insurance market on average. And it’s better insurance. There’s no huge annual deductible and it starts paying medical expenses from the first office visit. You put that on the State Health-Insurance Exchange, and that is a heck of an option for a whole bunch of people who are scared to death of getting sick and are afraid to go to the doctor because they can’t afford to. Creating financial security and economic stability for people here in the State is not just about making sure we have a living wage for every worker, it’s also about creating health security and having coverage that enables everybody to go to the doctor when they are sick. Healthcare is a right not a privilege and we have to keep saying that until it becomes the dominant narrative in our country too. Absolutely - says John, and there are a lot of people in (YouTube) Chat who would like BadgerCare as well, by the way. I’d like it - says John quietly. I grew up on a dairy farm and wasn’t covered by any form of health insurance until I was 22 years old – Mike says, and the reason was that my family made the decision to forego health insurance in order to keep our farm profitable. Unless you had a limb hanging from a few strands, you just didn’t go to the doctor. You dealt with things at home. This wasn’t unusual or exceptional. It was a common story for many people especially in the family-farming business. Then there are all those people who have wonderful ideas and want to start a new business, but they are tethered to a job that is the way their family gets health insurance. Now if they were able to explore (an) option as affordable and a form of insurance of quality – such as BadgerCare, they would be able to follow their dreams which in turn would help stimulate Wisconsin’s economy. So we are holding back our economy because of this crazy healthcare system that we’ve got. Well said - says John. A lot of people in (YouTube) Chat say we need Single-Payer but we need to open up Medicare for All first. That is the step-way – he says. Mike nods. I want to create as much political pressure and as much leadership at the State level - Mike tells us, to advance this debate and give other States a model to follow. This would really be a life saver that we could throw to so many really vulnerable people out there who can’t afford to go to the doctor. I agree - says John, and most of the 99% do also, but I know that Scott Walker’s donor base doesn’t. True enough – says Mike.
Slide: A very long list of Interest Categories – which includes Banking, Construction, Health professionals, Agriculture, Insurance … everything imaginable. It’s Scott Walker’s list of donors!
He is loaded. He has over 76 million dollars. I expect that they are going to fight any concept of anything that would downsize them – John says. Oh of course – Mike replies. The numbers are numbers that he compiled over years as Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. They followed the money. What I can say is that one half of one percent of the American population supplies over 2/3 of all the political money out there. And when you look at that tiny segment of society that has the habit of making huge donations, you find that what they want our government to do is vastly different from what the rest of us want our government to do - but they get their way on every issue we care about. We have to break the grip of that money-power and when Democratic or Progressive candidates chase fat-cat donors from coast to coast, they are playing Scott Walker’s favorite game and playing it by his rules.
I’d like to sideline for a moment here - says John. To all the volunteers, to Mike and the audience … We cheer each other on. We are not going to get any praise anyplace else. We have to support each other. Mike smiles. I love hearing Mike talk about that and the fact that he feels uplifted by going out on the streets – John says, because I get the same thing from you guys and from doing these interviews! I’ve had people hand me the first check they ever wrote to a candidate – Mike says. They come and tell me that they’ve never done door-to-door but that they are willing to try. People are pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones in ways that are really inspiring. We have this habit … We hand out literature at events in a brown bag and on it is written: Tell 10 (and) this election is in the bag. If you are willing to commit to talking to just 10 people … that is what is going to make this victory possible. That’s cool - says John who really likes what he is hearing! We have now distributed over 2600 of those bags – Mike continues, and I can’t tell you how many people have come up and said I don’t actually think I feel comfortable approaching 10 people, but I’m willing to give it a try … and some come back and request more bags and say “I can do this!” You can tell they really feel liberated from what they felt was holding them back in the past, like they can engage in ways that they’ve never done in their lives, and that’s the best part of this whole campaign!!! That’s “frigging” awesome - says John. The audience is right there with you Mike.
Jilly is asking in (YouTube) Chat about whether there are any scheduled debates with your opponents coming up - Laura says. We had one last night (mentioned above) and there was also had a traditional televised debate with all 8 remaining Democratic Candidates – Mike answers. It went out on Milwaukee public radio also, and was screened elsewhere in the State online. Nice - says John. I’m running neck and neck with Governor Walker in the latest poll, even though voters are only just getting to know me – Mike says contentedly. You have the people on your side – says John. That’s obvious and I love it. Thanks for the donation Jillylove, and I’m glad your cat is alive – says John.
Mike you’ve built a force around you in Wisconsin. There is Gayle force in California and the force around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York … regardless of what happens that force can continue to do work – says John. Oh it has to – says Mike. We need a movement to beat the machine and that can’t be something that only lasts for one election campaign - he specifies. It has taken decades for things to reach this point and we are not going to break that grip on government in one election … one victory won’t do it! I’m taking the long view here. I’ve even taken the risk as a candidate for Governor of saying that Wisconsin should be the first State in America to experiment with a Basic Income Program. Most people here don’t know what that is and the initial response from a lot of people is negative. They probably think that it sounds like one big handout and an encouragement for people to sit on their couch. I feel strongly though that in 10 or 15 years it is going to be considered a necessity in this country and people will be clamoring for it. However the familiarization has to begin now. We have to have that conversation and discuss the concept.
Slide: “McCabe’s proposal calls for a $9-million-a-year program for 1,000 participants, with 500 people receiving a Basic Income of $1,000 a month and another 500 individuals receiving $500 per month for comparison purposes.”
That’s what leadership should be all about - Mike says ... How to get people to think outside the box. “If it has a positive impact – great. This could pave the way for Social Security for All nationally. If it doesn’t work or it has too many side effects, then we take what we learn and develop better ways to create economic and social stability so no one is left behind.” That’s how Mike sees it. This is something that is going to be necessary eventually. We’re seeing so much employment being automated out of existence with robots taking away jobs in factories etc. What happens when the full force of driverless vehicles hits? What happens to all the truck drivers, the bus drivers and the taxi drivers? We will need to have a program in place that is going to provide economic stability and financial security for very vulnerable workers, if we don’t want to see obscene levels of economic inequality become cemented in place in our State – he says.
Other Democratic candidates are following Mike’s lead and embracing the things that he has called for - such as BadgerCare for All and fully legalizing marijuana. However nobody has so far copied him with regard to Basic Income. John agrees with Mike on the topic and says that one has to start the conversation that it’s not about giving away “free stuff”. When they say (that) to me – Mike says, I say hang on … what we have now is a whole load of programs that really are poverty traps. You have to be poor to get the help and stay poor to keep the help! The incentive then is to cut back on your hours or to stop working. Basic Income frees you from all that. It builds a platform so that you can step on to the ladder a few rungs up. It gives you some security and some stability and then you can pursue some more education or job training to get ahead. You can climb the ladder and you can keep right on climbing. The harder you work the better off you are. Nobody is going to live on the Basic Income, but that Basic Income will provide the cushion that will help a low-wage worker survive while looking at ways to climb the ladder. Millions of people drive for a living in this country … and that employment could just disappear. This hasn’t happened yet so imagine how much worse things will become. I want to get Wisconsin out in front of this issue by taking measures to deal with it.
There are two more things that I’d like to talk about – says John, although we are short on time. I could talk to you for hours. You’re very knowledgeable. It’s phenomenal! The audience is having a great time.
Laura asks whether - beyond cannabis, Mike supports the decriminalization of all drugs. We have to totally re-look at drug laws in our country - Mike replies. They have (been) proven ineffective, counter-productive and they are clearly racially discriminatory. A second marijuana possession charge in Wisconsin is a felony for which you go to prison - if you live in certain zip codes. An inner-city Milwaukee zip code happens to be the most heavily incarcerated zip code in America. Our drug laws are a failure and have become a driving force for mass incarceration. And that has left us in Wisconsin with a budget that spends more on prisons than on the entire university system. John’s guess is that that is a national number. We could send all our prisoners to college for cheaper – he says. Mike doesn’t know what the story is exactly at a national level, but he knows that as Wisconsin spends more and more and more for failure, it becomes less and less capable of investing in success. That is a tremendous wasted opportunity for our State. My goal is to cut our prison population in half. That is a realistic and achievable goal. Minnesota imprisons half as many people as Wisconsin and yet our two States have virtually identical crime rates. Well, prisons make a lot of money and quite frankly in this economy if you want to have a steady job, prison is the way to go - John says ironically. It’s horrible but you get food, a bed ... What a sad commentary on our times, when that is a reality for far too many people – Mike says. John agrees completely. Out of curiosity, he now asks Mike what reaction he gets from Republicans when he talks about any issue involving money - when they don’t know where it is going to come from, or when the issue of corporate subsidies comes up.
Slide: “McCabe calls for ending 2-State subsidies benefitting select few to invest in community prosperity”
People don’t agree with me about everything – Mike says, but you’d be amazed how much common ground we can find. I was approached by a Trump voter and asked to announce my candidacy from the farm that he runs. In the barn there was still an old Veterans for Bush sign. Yet he told me that he loved the way I was talking and would be honored if I’d come and make my announcement there. Curtiss Town is 5 miles from where our farm was and 200 people live there. That town in the last Governor’s election gave Scott Walker his biggest percentage margin of victory of any community in the State - 90%!! I stopped by after announcing at a café and went around table to table. Nobody told me to get lost. People don’t agree with me about everything, but I had wonderful conversations and I think they respect the fact that I am passionate and straight-forward with where I’m coming from. I don’t pull any punches. I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. I think the Democrats make a huge mistake writing off places like that and no longer competing there. We have to, and we can do so successfully – he says. I used to think that it was the Democrats not wanting to compete in those areas and what it really is, is the Democrats conceding that they are okay with Republican power in a State – John says. It’s not an attitude to have in a Democratic Party that wants to make progress – he adds. Mike may or may not agree with John’s opinion there, but he says that all he knows is that a lot of these people have only been hearing from Republicans for a very long time.
John asks about the Democratic Party’s response to Mike. When I talk about what I would regard as the State Party Establishment – Mike replies, the response to my candidacy has been cool, pretty chilly (actually). I’m seen as an unwelcome intruder, but I’m okay with that because I think there needs to be some intrusion. John laughs. However, when you get out to the grassroots – Mike continues, to the county party meetings - especially as you go up North, there the reception has been delightfully warm and I’ve (even) been welcomed with open-arms. In Wisconsin I’ve found that the farther north, the more rural it gets and the more intense is the hunger for change! John is intrigued. That’s very encouraging to hear – he says. Laura laughs when Mike says – The Northwoods has been sort of written off for years by a lot of politicians - especially on the Democratic side, but I’m telling you there’s something brewing out there in the Northwoods.
Laura has another question from YouTube. As Governor would you cooperate with ICE in the Trump Administration’s policy on immigration – she asks? I want Wisconsin to become a national model for other States to follow in resisting national immigration policy. I want our State to set a tone that is welcoming and hospitable and I do want Wisconsin to become part of the active resistance to current Federal immigration policy. Latino groups everywhere I go bring up the issue of Driver’s Licenses. They want to be able to get them without risking being detained and deported when they go to apply for the latter. They want to be able to get driver’s licenses, training and insurance. That is good for all motorists in Wisconsin as the roads are safer when everybody has all that. I am committed to the idea of a driver-card program in Wisconsin that would be available to anyone, including undocumented immigrants. Also I’m committed to creating leadership that would make our division (of) motor vehicles a safe haven where people could come and get that driver card without fear. Our country has always been made stronger by immigration, never weaker. We’ve got to move forward and keep that in mind. ICE – says John, was a knee jerk reaction to 9.11. Do you agree with the idea of abolishing the institution? ICE of course was part of the Homeland Security Act and when that legislation was passed, that was the biggest single expansion of federal government authority in the last 50 years in America. That came under the Bush Administration with near-unanimous support among Republicans in Congress – Mike says. I am not going to be in a position to push the legislation that would do away with ICE and take us back to the immigration system that we had before. I certainly favor that (though) and I certainly speak for that as a candidate for Governor. President Trump asked Governor Walker to send Wisconsin National Guard troops down to the border – Mike says, when they were separating kids from their parents - and the Governor did. I would have said … President Trump, this is the Incumbent. We have had major flooding here in Wisconsin - particularly up in the north of our State. We have roads that have been washed out and I’m sending the National Guard up there to do repair work and flood-rescue operations. Yes – John says. You do have the power as Governor to do things such as to control the National Guard and I do like the idea of there being a resistance against our Gestapo. That’s what they are. They are not going after all immigrants, but if you are brown you can even be stopped in Maine!
Thank you Laura and (YouTube) Chat, and thank you Mike for running. It’s the hardest thing to do and I appreciate that. Thanks for having me back - says Mike. It’s great talking with you as always – he says. We’ll be watching your Primary night closely – Laura tells him. Mike thanks her. John gives a shout-out to Scott Walker saying he’d be happy to host a debate. Mike invites everyone to check out his website and see when he’ll be in a location near them.
The links are in the video description. Good Luck on August 14th, 2018 Mike McCabe!
John ends by telling us that Markus and he picked an outro song for Mike this time - one that they think suits him. It’s called Meet me where the crow don’t fly and it’s by the Water Tower Bucket Boys. He explains that the title is based on a sailing term. A crow will not fly into bad weather. The sailors would release crows when they needed to, because they were good at finding land. They like “getting to stability”. To me - John tells us, this song is about going into the danger (zone). We know there is a problem, a storm. We have to face that and fix it and there will be stability at the other end of that. We need more Progressives running – he says. We need to support our Progressives. We need to support the organizations that support our Progressive candidates. Thank you all for being here.