We gather here tonight at a dangerous moment for our state and our country.
I know that people in this hall are counting on a wave for changing the political landscape in our state. But this election is going to be decided by people outside this hall who are struggling to keep their heads above water.
There are too many forgotten people living in forgotten places across our state. Some of them live in the inner cities. Some of them live way out in the country like where I’m from.
But we have a government that is catering to a wealthy and well connected and privileged few at the top and ignoring the wishes of so many people in this state and that’s gotta change if Wisconsin’s going to become the state that it has the potential to be.
Our state has lost its way and is slowly but surely becoming a shadow of its former self.
This is a state that used to be a state of firsts. First kindergarten anywhere in the nation. First state to create a vocational, technical and adult education system. Workers compensation and unemployment compensation were invented here. Social security was invented here.
This was a state of firsts.
And now at this moment, so far into the 21st century, no state in America has seen it’s middle class shrink more than Wisconsin. And we have levels of economic inequality not seen in our state since the great depression.
We can turn this state around, if we dare to dream.
Dare to dream of a Wisconsin that no longer feeds the rich. No longer showers tax breaks and state subsidies on a few at the top with the hope that some of what they’re given will filter down to the rest of us. But instead embraces geyser economics because economic prosperity does not trickle down but gushes up.
Dare to dream. Dare to dream of becoming the first state in the America that creates a living wage for every worker, everywhere.
Dare to dream that we become the state that sets an example for the nation to follow that becomes a model for this nation in making Badgercare a public option available to anybody, anywhere regardless of income. Badgercare should be there for all badgers.
Dare to dream to become the first state in America to experiment with universal basic income to create protection and security and stability for vulnerable workers who are watching their employment automated out of existence.
Dare to dream of becoming the state that makes higher education available to everybody, debt-free education for everyone.
Dare to dream. Dare to dream that Wisconsin aims to become the first state in America fully powered by renewable energy.
Wisconsin can be all of this but only with a very different kind of leadership and with a brand new kind of politics, because Wisconsin can be all of that but we have to do one other thing. We have to deal with the reality that there is a cancer growing in the body of our democracy that must be cut out. We have allowed cronyism and corruption and what amounts to legal bribery to take root in our state, and it must be uprooted.
Because we will never get living wages from a dying democracy.
We will never get good healthcare from a sick political system.
We will never get clean air and clean water from dirty politics.
And we will never get anything more than thoughts and prayers after each new mass shooting as long as elected officials are paid to take no other action.
We levels of inequality not seen since the great depression and it is worth remembering that as the country plunged into that great depression, the greatest president the democratic party ever produced told the American people at that moment, “The forces of organized money are unanimous in their hatred for me,” and then he told them, “I welcome their hatred.”
We need revive that spirit for our time. I am running for governor to do everything in my power to renew that spirit in our day.
Thank you very much.