McCabe Has One Thing To Say To State Dem Party Grand Pooh-Bahs: What’s Not To Like?

Principle Over Party

By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (10/16/17)

Democratic candidate for governor Mike McCabe was in La Crosse Saturday evening for a fundraiser. Despite the blustery rainy night over 60 people came and went – but mostly stayed – for the whole event. The chili packed a solid wallop and the political talk was even better. Unlike most democratic party gatherings these days, the evening with McCabe was upbeat, positive and plucky. Oh sure, there were the occasional comments about the latest burp of Trumpland insanity or disbelief about the most recent dystopian outrage cooked up by the Koch Brothers’ assistant junior department manager Scott Walker, but, truly, there was little of that.

Instead there was talk about possibilities. Talk about decent healthcare for all and a return to debt-free education for the young. People swapped ideas about clean renewable energy and the possibilities for the state of internet for all. There were even young people. Lots of them. Some with their babies and toddlers in tow. There were no lefty sad sacks to be found, even among we graybeards.

Political watchdog and Democratic candidate for governor Mike McCabe.

A collection basket quickly filled to overflowing with small, individual campaign donations. Let the republicans and corporate dems have their $1,000-plate soirees, homemade chili and a platter full of cookies and good company was just what democracy ordered Saturday.

It was, in other words, what is proving to be a regular Mike McCabe campaign event.

“I’m for living wages for every worker and health care for all and affordable debt-free education and renewable energy and internet to every household. Those are values that should be encouraged. The party should be encouraging people with those values to run for office as democrats and they shouldn’t be chasing them away.

Now I need to make a disclaimer here: I am a supporter of Mike McCabe and even occasionally toss some advice his way and have donated cash to his campaign and dropped another $25 into the collection basket this weekend.

Nonetheless I had a question for Mike; one that I heard from several progressive types just a day or so before the Saturday event: Why, if you are running for the democratic nomination for governor, don’t you join the party? Sure, Bernie didn’t belong to the party but he had caucused with the senate dems for years, campaigned and fund raised for dems in the past. While corporate and Clinton dems didn’t like it, there was a general feeling that Bernie had paid some dues. But what about McCabe?

In his book Blue Jeans In High Places: The Coming Makeover Of America Mike had dismissed third party efforts as doomed to failure in a system solidly rigged for the two major parties. Some progressives had even reluctantly joined the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) after reading Mike’s book or hearing him talk.

So I carried the question to the candidate: Why not just join the democratic party?

“I have not belonged to a party,” McCabe, former longtime executive director of The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said. “I have done work as a watchdog that did involve calling out wrongdoing or misbehaviors on both sides.

“I decided to run as a democrat because if you run as an independent you split the ‘change vote’ and you get the status quo reelected and then you probably get blamed for the continuation of the status quo. It’s a road to nowhere. So I did exactly what I recommended in my book. People need to think about running for office; people who haven’t done so in the past but they should do it within the two-party system because it gives the greatest opportunity to make a change.

“You know, there are more than five million people in this state who don’t consider themselves party members but most of them support one party or the other on a regular basis, but they don’t belong to a ‘club’, but they may have a very strong connection to a political party,” McCabe noted. “I don’t think it makes sense to a party to send a message to five million people that you are not one of us.”

And what the hell, McCabe makes a strong argument to the DPW of ‘what’s not to like’?

McCabe explains, “When you think of the values I have – what I stand for – I don’t know why the democratic party wouldn’t want someone with those values to run in their party. How are you ever going to become a major party? How are you ever going to be able to win enough elections to govern if you are chasing away people with values like mine?

“I’m for living wages for every worker and health care for all and affordable debt-free education and renewable energy and internet to every household. Those are values that should be encouraged. The party should be encouraging people with those values to run for office as democrats and they shouldn’t be chasing them away.

“If you register as a candidate for a party; if you decide to carry a party’s banner you are obviously deciding to cast your lot in that party.”

Anyone still wonder where the campaign’s “Principle Over Party” slogan comes from?

What about the freeloader argument?

McCabe doesn’t flinch from the question, which he calls “a strange criticism”.

“The interesting thing is I went out and campaigned for people running for the state legislature in many rural counties around the state that the state party was writing off,” he said. “They were giving no support whatsoever to these candidates in places like Walworth county and Taylor county and Columbia county.

“I was appearing at those candidates’ events and helping them raise money and was giving their campaigns support by helping them when they weren’t getting a lick of support from either legislative leaders on the democratic side or state party officials. They were being written off and the one person out there helping them was me, and they appreciated it.

“I don’t feel I have anything to apologize for when it comes to supporting democratic candidates because I’ve been in places where the democratic leadership was absent.”

As one who has worked on rural campaigns, McCabe’s assessment of the callous – and politically stupid – attitude of the DPW to rural legislative races rings true to what I have seen. The DPW leadership has taken political malpractice to a high – er, low – artform.

Where to now?

McCabe has been traveling the state and feels good about the campaign so far.

“It’s off to a great start and it’s so far doing better that I could have possibly hoped.” McCabe said. “It has really been an inspiring reaction so far. And we’ll see how it goes over the coming months, but so far, so good.”

And, hey, the chili’s got a good kick, too.


McCabe Campaign website:

Check out the campaign’s Facebook page HERE.


So what reforms does Mike McCabe stand for?

He wrote a very readable book on the subject you can read for FREE!

At a time full of pessimism, Mike McCabe wrote an unapologetically optimistic book, Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics. The book predicts we are on the verge of extensive renovation of the political landscape. It describes when it has happened before and spells out how and where it will happen next, and who will do the renovating.

Mike didn’t write Blue Jeans in High Places as an academic exercise. He is no academic. He wrote it as a blueprint, and blueprints are worthless unless they are used to build something. Blue Jean Nation is that something.

Supplies of the book’s third printing are now exhausted. However, Blue Jeans in High Places is still available as an e-book on Amazon or you can read it FREE online as a PDF file.