Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
One last thought on the Scott Walker debacle in Wisconsin: We’re not going to start winning elections until we start winning conversations.
These conversations need to happen at the local, grassroots level, where we engage with our neighbors, including some who don’t already agree with us.
What I’d like to see is a local progressive council in every town and city and county in Wisconsin—and around the country.
These would be regular gatherings, with good food and drink (the “Drinking Liberally” groups are on to something!), and speakers, book clubs, film festivals.
From these councils, people would not only recoup their energy but also bring to the fore the basic demands they have at the local level: whether it’s for keeping the school from closing down or blocking the latest encroaching Walmart or protesting the abusive local employer or for just airing out how crazy it is that we don’t have paid sick leave or decent health care.
These should be open to as wide a public as possible, and members should be encouraged to bring open-minded friends or neighbors or colleagues to come and share their thoughts or just have fun with nice, decent people.
This is doable in Wisconsin because of the great grassroots organizing that occurred to get those million signatures against Walker. We should use those signatures as a basis for establishing these councils.
This is going on already in several places. In Oregon, Wisconsin, the Oregon Area Progressives have been meeting every Saturday at the Fire Fly Coffeehouse, and they have an open mic every month. Similar get togethers are occurring with the Rock County Progressives, and those in Middleton, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, and many other places.
This is how we regroup. This is how we move forward.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Accountability in Defeat in Wis.."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter