It turns out that my forced retirement from public broadcasting punditry (because the show on which I was punditing concluded) lasted a month and a half.
I will be appearing on National Public Radio’s “1A” show today discussing “Wisconsin’s Legacy” and the book The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics by Dan Kauffman.
The show calls itself “a show about a changing America. Host Joshua Johnson convenes a daily conversation about the most important issues of our time. 1A brings context and insight to stories unfolding across the country and the world. With a name inspired by the First Amendment, the show celebrates free speech and the power of the spoken word.”
I’m all for that. (Which is why I appear on every show, friendly audience or not, I’m invited to, other than the fact that I am a media ho.) In fact, I think every newspaper should change the name of its opinion page from “Opinion” or “Perspectives” or something generic like that to “The First Amendment.” (Of course, then they would actually have to respect the First Amendment, which is not currently the case for such newspapers as the New York Times.)
What is the book about? Glad you asked!
During the 20th century, Wisconsin was the embodiment of what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called a “laboratory of democracy” — an experiment in social and economic innovation, and a prospective blueprint for other states.
A bastion of progressive values, Wisconsin created the first workers’ compensation program, a progressive state income tax, stricter child labor laws, and the first unemployment insurance program. Much of FDR’s New Deal was even authored by Wisconsin natives.
But in recent years, the state has undergone a major political shift. Republicans secured the [state] government in 2010, and in the 2016 presidential election, the state went Republican for the first time in three decades.
How did Wisconsin go from electing Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016? Dan Kaufman, author of “The Fall of Wisconsin,” assesses the state’s changing tides:
Wisconsin has gone from being a widely admired “laboratory of democracy” to a testing ground for national conservatives bent on remaking American politics. Its century-old progressive legacy has been dismantled in virtually every area: labor rights, environmental protection, voting rights, government transparency.
As Gov. Scott Walker campaigns for a third term, new polls indicate that public opinion of various economic and environmental conditions is low.
We’ll discuss how the changing political landscape has impacted life in Wisconsin — and vice versa — and what’s next for the once-progressive state.
The show originates from WAMU radio in Washington, D.C., which means I will be on a radio station in a place I’ve never been to, though as readers know that didn’t stop me from appearing on the BBC World Service earlier this year. Actually, since this is on NPR nationwide I will be on the air in a lot of places I’ve never been to. (I therefore should be nervous, I suppose.)
The show is on WAMU (88.5 FM for Washington-area listeners) from 10 a.m. to noon and 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern time. It’s on WPR from 1 to 3 p.m. Central time. Our discussion will be on WAMU live at 11 Eastern, 10 Central, and on WPR at 2 p.m. Central time, which means I guess I’ll be able to hear myself after I’m done talking.
As you might imagine — spoiler alert! — I will be taking an opposing view, or views, from the author and the third guest, a fellow Wisconsin Public Radio Week in Review alumnus who apparently suggested me for this. (I might start, perhaps, with questioning the term “once-progressive state,” which infers that most Wisconsinites bought everything the Progressives did.)