Articles exemplifying Citizen Action’s Theory of Change

Governor Evers’ Refusal to Mobilize Public Opinion Enabled Budget Disaster

In an article for the Wisconsin Examiner, Citizen Action’s Executive Director Robert Kraig makes the case that Governor Evers has been failing to use his full power to check the gerrymandered State Legislature. Evers faced a similar situation to what faced President Biden on the debt limit: a power maximizing opponent willing to take hostages by threatening massive damage to average people.  Robert argues that a presidents or a governor’s influence comes from their ability to force conflicts with the Legislative branch that focus attention on unpopular policies, and then as the only officials elected by the whole people, use their bully pulpit to place irresistible public pressure to bear on their opponents. President Biden was able to back down a MAGA majority House of Representatives in this fashion, achieving a much better than expected settlement of the debt ceiling. Governor Evers, on the other hand, allowed a gerrymandered Legislature to set the terms of the debate, and then engaged in concessionary bargaining behind closed doors which led to a massive concessions on public education and shared revenue. Robert explains how Evers could have forced a budget impasse on popular issues such as BadgerCare Expansion and Public Education funding to expose individual Legislators to the risk of losing their reelections under fairer maps, and give activists and organizing groups like Citizen Action the opportunity to mobilize public opinion on his behalf. Read the full article here.

Milwaukee’s Historic Climate & Economic Equity Plan show how addressing the climate crisis is also a solution to racial and economic inequality

In a column in Urban Milwaukee by Citizen Action’s Executive Director Robert Kraig, and our Climate & Equity Director Rafael Smith, they explain why the Milwaukee Climate & Economic Equity Plan, passed and signed in late June 2023, is the best available path to addressing runaway climate change and reversing Milwaukee’s 40 year crisis in racial inequality.  The article provides a concrete example of why the Green New Deal Resolutions synthesis of climate change and racial equality has the potential to achieve transformational reform. Read the column here.

Citizens Must Get Off the Sidelines to Win Elections in Wisconsin

In two articles in Barn Raiser magazine, one focused on the 2022 U.S. Senate race and the second on the 2023 Supreme Court race, Citizen Action’s Executive DIrector Robert Kraig encourages us to approach politics like organizers, not political pundits. Kraig explains that the exceptionally tight margins of victory in Wisconsin races for President, Governor, and U.S. Senate gives average citizens the potential to determine the outcomes. This can only happen if more people give up political hobbyism, where they function more like armchair pundits than active and engaged citizens, and volunteer in deep canvasses and other organizing techniques which engage tens of thousands of voters in deeper conversations.  Read the article on the U.S. Senate race here and the one on the Wisconsin Supreme Court race here.

The Lessons of Recent Setbacks on Criminal Justice Reform: 

In an editorial for In These Times, Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig  explains how social movement breakthroughs such as the historic Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 create opportunities for the defenders of the status quo to foment public backlash, and how establishment politicians backslide under the pressure. Community organizing can turn the tide back towards fundamental reform and eventual liberation, but only if it works to change the cultural common sense about what makes us safe for the multiracial working class. Read the column here.

Why Moderate Pundits Are Wrong in their Pronouncements About the Supposed Failures of President Biden’s Agenda

In a column in the CapTimes, Citizen Action’s Executive Director takes on the mainline pundit myth that President Biden’s legislative setbacks are a consequence of him moving too far left. To the contrary, Biden’s shift to the left, and coalition with progressives in Congress, is driven both by the progressive shift of Democratic voters and a realistic understanding of the major crises facing the U.S. and the World.  The prediction of the article that transformational reform was still on the table was later proven correct month later by the passage of the Inflation Act, which included important health care advances and a historic breakthrough on climate, and a downpayment on the Green New Deal according to Representative Alexandria Ocacio-Cortez. Read the column here.

Making the Democratic Party a Progressive Party 

In a column for the Wisconsin Examiner, Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig argues that the Democratic Party is now a coalition between its moderate and progressive wings. Progressives are now a slight majority of Democratic voters, but neither wing can hold power without the other. In stark contrast to Congressional Democrats, where the progressive and moderate wings share power, moderates continue to dominate Democratic politics in Wisconsin state government. Exemplifying Citizen Actions’s theory of change, Kraig argues that fault is not with moderate elected officials like Tony Evers, but progressives for not doing what it takes to build the strategic alignment and inside-outside power to shift the party’s agenda to the left. Doing so would benefit the Democrats’ election prospects, and our changes for restoring democracy. Read the article here.

Building the National Power to Make the 2020s an Era of Social & Economic Justice

In an article on Inauguration Day 2021 for In These Times, Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig argues that progressives have more influence than they have in 50 years, which President Biden has recognized, forming a strong coalition. This offers the potential to achieve the biggest advances in economic opportunity, racial justice, and health care reform since the New Deal, while heading off the existential threat of runaway climate change. This is possible if progressives build the grassroots power to co-govern with moderates and check the influence of Billionaires and self-dealing corporations on the moderate wing of the party. Progressives also must evolve a governing worldview, giving up absolutism beyond our immediate power to achieve. The article provides a longer historical grounded explanation of Citizen Action’s radical pragmatism. Read the article here.

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