Progressives vow to hold GOP lawmakers accountable

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Rock the Pantry

Madison’s Majestic Theater hosted “Rock the Pantry,” which raised $4,000 to feed the hungry. – Photo: Courtesy

On the eve of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s official inaugural celebration at Madison’s Monona Terrace, local progressive groups united to raise $4,000 to feed the hungry while sending a message of defiance to Republican leaders.

One Wisconsin Now hosted Rock The Pantry at the Majestic Theater, 115 King St., in response to Walker’s inaugural ball, which many have criticized for benefiting his political campaign and the Wisconsin Republican Party.  

In contrast, former Gov. Jim Doyle’s inaugural balls were benefits, raising more than $500,000 for Boys and Girls Clubs in Wisconsin. One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross said Rock The Pantry would benefit Wisconsin’s Feed America campaign efforts.

“We are here as progressives to send a very clear message to Gov. Walker and the new conservative majority that when you try and cut public education, when you attack public employees, when you make gay, bisexual, transgender and lesbian citizens second-class citizens, we’re going to fight you on that, and fight every step of the way,” Ross said. “If they try and rescind the domestic partnership protections, if they try and enact draconian laws, we’re going to be there, and we hope the community will join us in fighting these.”

People attending the event said Walker and his new conservative Republican leadership in the Legislature are already indicating they intend to roll back many of the state’s most progressive public policy initiatives.

A new campaign at MeetTheNewMajority.com, produced by One Wisconsin Now and unveiled at the event, details the backgrounds of new conservative legislators. The unveiling received thunderous applause from the more than 350 attendees at Rock the Pantry.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, a vocal critic of Walker’s decision to reject federal transportation funding to bring high-speed rail to Wisconsin, said he feels there is opportunity now for progressives to regroup and hold Republicans accountable.

“The economic vision we’re getting so far out of Scott Walker and Republicans seems to be about turning the clock back on stem cell research, turning the clock back on domestic partnership benefits, turning the clock back on state employees,” he said. “It all seems to be about how can we roll things back, but what we need to be successful is to think about the future – to catch the wave of things that are happening throughout the world. We have an opportunity now to make that case about what constitutes a modern economy.”

FAIR Wisconsin’s Katie Belanger said her group and others are preparing for whatever the new governor and Legislature throw at them.

“We have our work cut out for us moving forward,” she said. “At the same time, we’re going to be holding (Republicans) accountable.  They said they were elected to create jobs and improve the state economy, and repealing a domestic partner registry doesn’t accomplish either of those.”

“We have only just begun to fight,” Ross said.