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Ctr. for 21st Century Studies presents An Evening with Dan Kaufman
April 10, 2019, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pmFree
Dan Kaufman is the author of “The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics” (W.W. Norton, 2018). He has also written for The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.
In this presentation, “The Fall of Wisconsin: The Legacy of Divide-and-Conquer Politics and the Aftermath of the 2018 Elections,” Kaufman will examine this attempt to transform Wisconsin’s political culture, which culminated in Donald Trump’s Wisconsin victory in the 2016 election. He will focus special attention on the citizen activists who fought these efforts, as well as national Democratic Party leaders who largely ignored them. He will also delve into the history of Wisconsin’s progressive tradition and that legacy’s profound influence on the nation. The first workman’s compensation program, the first unemployment insurance program, the first progressive income tax all came from Wisconsin, while much of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, including the Social Security Act, was drafted by Wisconsinites loyal to the Wisconsin Idea, an ethos that placed a moral obligation on the University of Wisconsin to improve the lives of the state’s citizens.
The 2010 midterm elections, fueled by a wave of Tea Party anger, were among the most consequential in American history. Nowhere was this more true than in Wisconsin, which elected Scott Walker to the governorship and gave Republicans majorities in both houses of the state legislature. With control of all three branches of government for the first time since 1998, the state’s Republican leaders began a campaign to dismantle Wisconsin’s century-old progressive legacy in every area: labor rights, environmental protection, voting rights, government transparency. The success of these efforts turned Wisconsin into a conservative laboratory for activists and organizations from across the country.
Finally, Kaufman will look at the aftermath of Wisconsin’s 2018 midterm elections, during which the Republican-controlled state legislature passed several bills stripping important powers from the governorship and attorney general’s office, once again thrusting Wisconsin’s politics to the center of national debate.