Give Democracy a Chance in Wisconsin

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

January 29, 2015

(This is the text of the speech that Matt Rothschild gave at the launching of the coalition “Our Democracy 2020” on January 28 in Madison, Wisconsin.)

It’s great to be here at the launch of “Our Democracy 2020,” and an honor to be up here with my colleagues in the nonprofit pro-democracy movement, and it’s an honor always to be with former Attorney General Lautenschlager.

We’ve come together at a crisis point for our democracy here in Wisconsin, as we’ve seen, over the past four years, an unprecedented assault on democracy across the board: with partisan redistricting, with attacks on voting rights, labor, the environment, public education, a woman’s right to choose, the independence of the judiciary and the Government Accountability Board, and campaign finance, among others.

I’ve been here in Wisconsin for 32 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Fortunately, I’ve also never seen such unity in the pro-democracy nonprofit sector here in Wisconsin.

We recognize the grave challenge to democracy that we’re facing, and we’re not taking it lying down. Instead, we’ve gathered together as one combined force to beat back the anti-democratic assault and give democracy a chance in Wisconsin.

At the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, we’re especially concerned about the assault on the Government Accountability Board, the vendetta against Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, and the effort to raise campaign contribution limits and lower the disclosure requirements.

And we’re committed to overturning Citizens United.

With the announcement this week that the Koch brothers and their billionaire buddies are going to spend close to $1 billion to buy the next election, it is more urgent than ever to amend the U.S. Constitution and say, once and for all, that corporations aren’t persons and money is not speech and that our representatives can regulate contributions and expenditures during elections.

Fortunately, here in Wisconsin, people are already fighting back. In 54 villages, towns, cities, and counties, people have voted overwhelmingly to overturn Citizens United. From Douglas County to Delavan, from Eau Claire County even to the city of Waukesha, these resolutions have passed by lopsided margins.

People here in Wisconsin understand that our democracy is under assault. We won’t stand idly by. We’re fighting back, and we at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign are delighted to join with all these other terrific pro-democracy groups to give democracy a chance again in Wisconsin.

WDC Executive Director Matthew Rothschild
Matthew Rothschild
WDC Executive Director

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