Summer of Strikes—Plus, After Affirmative Action

Summer of Strikes—Plus, After Affirmative Action

On this episode of Start Making Sense, Jane McAlevey talks about unions, and John Nichols comments on the politics of education.

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Start Making Sense: Summer of Strikes, plus After Affirmative Action: Jane McAlevy on Labor, John Nichols on Education
byThe Nation Magazine

Two nationwide strikes may be in the works right now. The Teamsters have been negotiating with UPS for a new contract, and the Auto Workers have been preparing to strike at least one of the Detroit auto makers. These have the potential to provide swing-state voters with a political education in the lead-up to the 2024 election. The Nation's Strikes Correspondent, Jane McAlevey joins the podcast to discuss.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: After affirmative action, what should progressives do to help people of color and other working class students get into college, and pay for it? The Nation’s National Affairs correspondent, John Nichols comments on the politics and economics of higher education.

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Two nationwide strikes may be in the works right now. The Teamsters have been negotiating with UPS for a new contract, and the United Auto Workers have been preparing to strike at least one of the Detroit auto makers. These have the potential to provide swing-state voters with a political education in the lead-up to the 2024 election. The Nation‘s strikes correspondent, Jane McAlevey, joins the podcast to discuss.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: After affirmative action, what should progressives do to help people of color and other working-class students get into college, and pay for it? Nation national affairs correspondent John Nichols comments on the politics and economics of higher education.

Jon Wiener, host:

From The Nation magazine, this is Start Making Sense – I’m Jon Wiener. Later in the show: After affirmative action: what should progressives do to help people of color and other working class students get into college, and pay for it? John Nichols will comment. But first: our coming summer of strikes: Jane McAlevey will report – in a minute. [BREAK]

Two nationwide strikes may be in the works right now. The Teamsters have been negotiating with UPS for a new contract and have a July 31st deadline, and the Auto Workers have been preparing to strike at least one of the Detroit automakers when their contract expires on September 14th. These have the potential to provide some swing state voters with a political education in the lead-up to the 2024 election. For an analysis of our coming summer of strikes, we turn to Jane McAlevey. She’s a columnist for The Nation magazine, where her column is called Framing the Choice.  She’s also a union organizer and author, most recently of the book, Rules to Win By: Power and Participation in Union Negotiations. She’s also a senior policy fellow at the University of California’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Last time we talked here, it was about the victorious strikes by teaching assistants at the University of California. We reached her today in New York City. Jane, welcome back.

Jane McAlevey, guest: Thank you. Great to be here.

JW: In Los Angeles, where this show is recorded, the summer of strikes has already begun. 15,000 hotel workers went on strike July 4th weekend. Members of Unite Here Local 11, 11,000 screenwriters, have been on strike against the studios for two months. Members of the Writer’s Guild of America and 160,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild may join them next week. So in Los Angeles, there are picket lines all over the city, outside a dozen movie studios from Culver City to Burbank and outside the big hotels from Santa Monica to downtown. But a nationwide strike by UPS workers would dwarf all of that, 340,000 workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. There hasn’t been a UPS national strike since 1997, more than 25 years ago. But before we talk about the specifics of these labor negotiations, let’s talk about the big picture, how union negotiations can change people’s political thinking, how they can swing elections, how they can help rebuild democracy – in Chicago, for example, where strikes by teachers pave the way for the election of a progressive mayor in 2023, Brandon Johnson.

JM: We saw such a good recent example there of exactly how union negotiations can both win material gain but also change the politics, the political outcome, and the social conditions, frankly, of the broader society, specifically the working class. So in Chicago, in a shocking upset: Brandon Johnson, a Chicago Teachers Union rank-and-file activist, educator, organizer, involved in the takeover and reform of his union and the rebuilding of a really fantastic teachers union. He was part of an effort that began in 2012. It really began in 2007, but it began in earnest in 2012 to take on the Democratic Party machine that runs their city.  and to understand that if they did not get out ahead of the bosses, in this case, the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, by the way, no  small mayor. The guy who was running the National Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he was a big heavyweight in the party in the Obama years, and he just set out to crush the public education sector, privatize it, make it charters, hand it over to his buddies in the rich echelon of the revived Democratic Party.

It was a strategic choice of how they did their negotiations starting in 2012, which was to involve huge representative committees of the workers and fundamentally to take their case on the offense with the broader community. An education union that understood their job was not just to educate the rank-and-file members of the union, in some narrow sense, it was to educate the whole of Chicago. The result is a very different kind of mayor than we’ve got, for example, in the city of New York. So organizing and specifically connected to contract struggles that cover lots of people can actually change the politics and the voting preferences of the whole working class vote, not just union members. That is what we need.

JW: Of course, not all unions think about educating the public. The two unions that are threatening nationwide strikes right now, the Teamsters and the Auto Workers, both have been transformed recently. Please explain what’s happened inside the Teamsters and the Auto Workers.

JM: First in the Teamsters, where it’s very hard for an insurgent slate to challenge the endless legacy of the Hoffa family, in this case, Hoffa Jr. I often say to people, winning unionization elections is a really hard campaign to win, the unionization process, but also, actually, workers being able to contest for power and win at the national level as rank-and-file workers in their own unions is sometimes just as hard. Like the way the Republican Party, the Democratic Party have a lot of control, frankly, over campaigns, voting rules, rulemaking, the same applies in unions. So first in the Teamsters, we saw a surprise, I think, to many: victory a year and a half ago when Sean O’Brien won the national election, and a lot of credit goes to Teamsters for Democratic Union, and a lot of credit goes to just how horrible Hoffa Jr. was.

In the United Auto Workers, it’s a little different because there’s actually structural change, made because of the massive corruption scandal and then the imposition of a national monitor watching the elections, making sure they’re fair. Two things happened. One was a demand led by a reform movement inside the union in the UAW to win the right for the rank-and-file members to directly elect the national president and key members of the National Executive Board. The fact that Sean O’Brien ousted what’s called the administration caucus, it’s a reform slate, beats the machine only after the reform slate folks first ran the campaign to win the right for rank-and-file members like me to be able to pull the lever for Shawn Fain. These are huge in their implications.

JW: So let’s talk about what’s going on right now in the Teamsters negotiation with UPS. What are the big issues, and what do you understand about where things stand right now?

JM: Thanks to an already more transparent national union than in the recent past, we actually know what some of the big victories have been, and they’ve come in the last few days because Sean O’Brien and the Teamsters are putting out press releases and going on social media and celebrating. So just in the last week, there was an announcement about winning air conditioning in every truck.

JW: Wow.

JM: That’s a huge demand. We’re actually talking about a major health and safety issue, right?

JW: Yeah.

JM: This is not like, “Hey, I get AC.” It’s like, “Hey, I’m not going to die on the job or pass out or lose a baby or miscarriage.” Or all the things that really happened. So that was the first big one, and that was about a week and a half ago, and then this weekend they announced one of their top demands, which was ending the structure two-tiering of their contract.

JW: Wow.

JM: That came out on Saturday.

JW: Let’s talk about the history of the two-tier contract. This has been around for a long time, and it’s been very bad for the union movement.

JM: It’s a disaster. So what it means is they say to all the current workers, “Hey, you get to keep everything you have.” But for the people who haven’t yet been hired, they’re going to get less money, less benefits, and basically less rights, and they sell it on, I’m going to say it, lazy on-principled officeholders and big unions just give into this stuff instead of doing the hard work of actually organizing to not accept that kind of a deal. When I learned to negotiate my very first contract, my brilliant mentor said to me, “One thing, McAlevey,” We only have last names in the labor movement, “One thing, McAlevey, you will never two-tier a contract. You will fight to the death. It’s a strike issue. You will never do it.” And it’s been a fight in basically every single contract negotiation I’ve ever led. It’s a huge issue that divides the working class, and it’s been a disaster for solidarity in the United States. So overcoming two-tiered agreements, which the Teamsters, by their own announcement, have a tentative agreement on, and it’s also the central issue for the big three negotiations with the UAW coming up.

JW: So let’s talk about the UAW. I read in the Detroit News, this is the glory of Google: auto industry analysts at the Bank of America feel confident in the likelihood of UAW strike of at least one of the automakers later this year, and they expect the union to secure wage and benefit improvements of 25% to 30%. This is what the Bank of America Auto Industry analysts are saying now is going to happen in the fall. Have you heard anything different?

JM: Yes. Although I think it’s funny because just this morning, like you, I spent a lot of time reading the boss media, the employer media, as all good researchers do. This caught my eye: The Foley and Lardner Law Firm has a whole analysis of what’s coming in the big three negotiations, and I have negotiated against Foley and Lardner many times. They have a whole analysis that’s similar to that, that acts like all the powers are in the hands of the workers. I’ve got to say, if we’re going to compare the strategic power of the Teamsters and the UAW, the Teamsters have more strategic workplace leverage right now, but I also read in the Foley and Lardner and some other employer-side materials about the coming big three negotiations that the employers are likely stockpiling cars already.

Just like in the WGA strike, we know that there were scripts and there were shows being stockpiled for the strike. So the effect takes a little bit longer. It’s sort of the employers thinking ahead about how to drive a longer strike, which we know is harder, but it’s incredibly exciting to listen to Shawn Fain and the whole rank-and-file leadership at the UAW now describing how intent they are on ending the two-tiered structure, making guaranteed just transition demands to an electric vehicle future batteries, and a lot more. These are really essential issues both for the working class, not just as the working class, but also as workers on a dying planet.

JW: I want to get back to LA and the hotel workers strike. Two weeks before the strike deadline, Unite Here and its allies, especially, there’s an interfaith social justice group CLUE, Clergy and Laity United, that’s been working closely with them, they held a huge nonviolent direct action protest, and notably, it was not at a hotel but at LAX at the airport, where a couple of thousand people blocked access to the airport for several hours and nearly 200 people were arrested, including two members of the LA City Council and one member of the State Assembly. LA City Council member Hugo Soto-Martinez told the media, “We are here to shed light on the issues working class Angelenos face like a single mother who works as a hotel housekeeper, needing to work 17 hours a day to afford housing.” The union is demanding an immediate $5 an hour raise. They say they can’t afford to live in the cities where they work. The key here to me is, this is nonviolent direct action aimed not at the hotel owners but at the public.

JM: Yeah, at the public, to puncture the media narrative and to put pressure on the political elite, like, ‘We’re not going to just stand at the gates. We’re coming for you.’ And a good strike does that. Huge picket lines on day one at the key employers, huge picket lines for a couple of days maybe, but you’ve already got on your drawing board, on your flip chart, where the workers are going to go to apply the most pressure, you’re going to have a skeleton crew so that the UPS guys, others don’t cross the line. But you’re going to start going places, like Los Angeles International Airport. You’re going to start going places like occupying city hall chambers. These are the things that you do if you’re trying to apply pressure and force to the settlement that’s going to lead to life-changing contracts.

JW: Next steps, beyond UPS and the automakers, there’s the new titans of industry, as you’ve called them. Number one, Amazon, then Uber, Tesla, Starbucks. They’ve created millions of low-paying, non-union lousy jobs. The Teamsters have said they want a contract with UPS, they can show to Amazon drivers and warehouse workers and say, ‘Look what you can get if you join our union.’ If and when the Teamsters take on Amazon, that will be huge.

JM: The issue is this, Jon. It’s tricky right now. The benefits package that the Teamsters have on healthcare, fully employer-paid family healthcare, the pension that actually allows workers to retire, those kinds of benefits cost a huge amount of money, and the consequence is that the starting rate, the cash pay, the hourly-based base, at the competitors like Amazon and FedEx is that they are, in some markets, actually matching, if not besting, the starting rate at UPS.  Because all they’re doing is cash, which is a hell of a lot cheaper as an economic deal than a pension. You’ve always got this tension. You’ve got young workers who are not thinking about children, babies, families. They’re not even married yet, and they’re definitely – their parents are thinking about retirement in their mind, not them. They want most cash possible. That’s going to be strategic for organizing at Amazon: what’s that base rate?

So we should appreciate the Teamsters ending the two-tiering already. We’ve already had a home run. They also won Martin Luther King Day. There’s been a bunch of announcements, again, all coming out in the last week, which is the norm in negotiations, which makes me think that they’re actually going to be settling soon, Jon, and possibly without a strike. They have, as we are talking, which would be probably the day before this airs, they have set a deadline by tomorrow morning by which they must have an agreement from UPS, and they did that on Saturday, and that led to some big gains. They did it again this morning. They announced there must be an agreement by July 5th or they’re going on strike, and there’s been a bunch of big victories in the last few days. As someone who’s been around this rodeo in person several times, I think it’s a question of whether or not we wind up having a strike at UPS.

JW: I should just add, we are recording this on July 4th.

JM: Great day to work. It’s a great day to get work done in terms of saving democracy. No, let’s be clear.

JW: Okay.

JM: We’re in the business of trying to save democracy. I think working on Independence Day is not a bad idea.

JW: The upcoming strike deadlines, after the Teamsters UPS deadline: 160,000 screen actors have set July 12th as the deadline for their negotiations. The Auto Workers have set September 14th, that’s when their contract expires. Jane, I know we’ll be coming back to you as our summer of strikes continues. You can read Jane McAlevey’s column at Thank you, Jane. This was great.

JM: Thank you so much, Jon. Always a pleasure.


Jon Wiener: The Supreme Court’s decision striking down affirmative action, of course, was deeply racist. And their rejection of Biden’s student debt cancellation policy hurt something like 43 million people. The affirmative action ban will reduce the number of Black and Latino students going to the most selective colleges.  But affirmative action was always limited to a relatively small number of students. For the vast majority of students from working class families, Black, Latino, and white, elite schools were never an option, academically or financially. So what should progressives do now to help them go to college, and pay for college? For comment, we turn to John Nichols, of course, he’s national affairs correspondent for The Nation. John, welcome back.

John Nichols: It’s an honor to be with you, Jon.

JW: Couple of facts: There are more than 3,000 colleges in the United States, four year and two-year schools; only 200 use affirmative action in admissions. 2,900 of the 3,000 admit more than half of their applicants, and at least a third of all undergraduate students attend community college. That includes half of Latino undergraduates, and community colleges typically have open enrollment. So what can we do to help students attend college? Well, it’s all the things Bernie’s been talking about for decades. We should make it free. We should give them help paying for housing and food. We should forgive student debt. Where should we start?

JN: Yeah, there’s a couple of things we should do right up front. First and foremost, we should establish the principle, before we get to what government can and should do, we should establish a principle in our own minds that education is a right. It’s the same with healthcare, and we’ve done pretty well at getting people to recognize healthcare as a right. We sometimes even hear relatively moderate democratic politicians say that now, but on education, there is still an element of elitism in play across the board and people will say, “Well, it’s something that you pay for.” Now we should just put aside all the excess language and say education is a right. And if it is a right, then that means that people should have more than just access to education i.e., they should have more than just the ability if they can find a million dollars to pursue whatever education they want.

They should have a right to get that education at the level that their skills take them. Now, the way to do that starts to get much more complicated because you don’t just start at college. I mean, to make sure that their skills are built up and realized, you start back at preschool and then when they get to the college level, there should be a guarantee that you have the education I would say for free and I’m in that Bernie camp, but at the very least at a very modest level. And that going with that, you have the continued benefits that a very wealthy person would have. If it’s a right, then we should say that, “Yeah, you have to have some access to housing, you have to have some access to food, to transportation, to things of that nature.”

So it’s a package that we develop and it just says, we want you to succeed. We know you can succeed if we don’t put too many barriers in your way. Now, that may sound like a lot, that may sound hugely expensive, but the fact is, I was just writing this week about the defense budget – I think I’m right about this – $880 billion coming close to a trillion dollars. I mean, the truth of the matter is that what we’re talking about for making higher education free and making it accessible for people at community colleges, at universities, at whatever facility that their talents can take them to, that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what the defense budget is.

So we’ve got the resources to do it. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and what we can do is look at what other countries are doing and recognize if they can pull it off, we can pull it off. And then really if you want to be very nationalistic about it, we can also look at what New York City did because remember in New York City, college was free for a very, very long time and we got some of the most brilliant scholars in the history of the world through that system, and we also did not go broke as a country. So we have international models, we have domestic models. Begin with that concept that education is a right and then make it real.

JW: Let’s talk about some of the specifics of Biden’s policies, what the Supreme Court says, what other states are doing. Student debt, one of Biden’s biggest and most important promises, and the result of a decade of work by the Debt Collective, a wonderful direct-action group. Biden’s plan was clearly permitted by the law. The Supreme Court was just denying what has already been written into law, but that’s what they’ve done, and under the Constitution, they have the power to do that. The plan they banned would’ve wiped out something like $400 billion in debt.

The Biden administration through other policies has already canceled $66 billion in student loan debt for more than 2 million borrowers. Now, Biden is trying to come up with some workarounds, the public service loan forgiveness program. If you’ve worked for the public sector for 10 years and paid your student loan debt payments, you can get your loan forgiven. This is like teachers or doctors. If you’ve attended a school that misled you, some of these profit-making fraud operations, you can get your entire debt forgiven. For the debt that remains, Biden has announced a one year pause on collection, not quite the same as cancellation.  Where do you think we stand on all this?

JN: Well, it’s a disastrous situation. Joe Biden, while he clearly kind of gets the issue, doesn’t quite have the passion that I think you would want to see in this regard. Look, debt, student debt is more than just a burden that people carry around with them. It defines our society. It says to people who get great skills in medicine, the law, education, you’ve got these great skills, you could put them to work for society. You want to do so, but you’re carrying this incredible burden so you end up taking a job that you don’t want to do because it pays you enough to cover your student debt. And look, the fact is we should begin with the concept that nobody took on student debt casually. The overwhelming majority of people who have student debt did their best to try and avoid it, but at the end of the day, they couldn’t.

If we begin with that concept that society benefits rom this, then it becomes easier to make the arguments for the interventions that are needed. And frankly, because of the problems with the court, because of the challenges with Congress, I think it has to become a central issue in 2024. It’s got to be something Biden runs on and basically says, “You elect me. Give me a majority in the Senate and the House, and here’s the plan we will implement to make college available for all and to eliminate student debt.” Instead of getting lost in the minutiae of coming up with a plan, what you recognize is you have a political crisis. The court has made this political crisis worse. To address that political crisis, you need to elect a president and a Senate that are committed to a specific plan. That’s certainly doable in time for 2024.

JW: On affirmative action, nine states have already abolished affirmative action at public institutions, notably California, which banned affirmative action on a right wing referendum in 1998. California being a blue state, very committed to equality, has spent half a billion dollars to try to make sure that the University of California is not just a lead institution for middle class students, and they have done a lot in what is called race neutral outreach programs. We might call this class-based affirmative action. They consider family income as one factor in admissions. They have a program where a percentage of the top students at every public high school in the state are guaranteed admission. Other states are doing this too. In California, the top 4% of public high schools is guaranteed admission to the University of California. In Texas, the top 10%, in Florida, the top 20% are guaranteed. Ron DeSantis forgot about this somehow. Of course.

JN: He may be coming for it soon.

JW: Yes, of course the University of California knows this can’t just start with graduating seniors. I think their programs start in the 9th grade, but as you say, really this has to go all the way back to elementary school, and preschool – even better.

JN: I do question that you can’t just have a class-based assessment of it. And I say that as somebody who really believes class should be a part of our discourse on a regular basis, but you also have to recognize race and ethnicity in some cases are huge issues here. That has to be a part of what we’re trying to do again, to have the diversity that you’re seeking, which is good for society, which is good for everybody. The fact that some states have come up with innovative solutions, or at least solutions that get us a little bit of the way along here, that’s a start, but we have to recognize that the majority of states aren’t doing that or haven’t done that, and so we need national solutions. It’s as simple as that. Another thing that we ought to talk about, and Jamaal Bowman, the congressman from New York has done a very good job of focusing on this along with Jeff Merkley from Oregon, is the reality of legacy admissions at colleges across this country.

JW: Yes.

JN: Essentially affirmative action for wealthy white people.

JW: Wealthy white people who do not qualify under the merit criteria.

JN: That’s right. And the amazing thing about this is the court let that stand. The court also let affirmative action stand at military schools because affirmative action’s a good thing. A lot of good comes from it. This brings us to the crisis of the Supreme Court. I think it’s time for Democrats to run in a different way as regards to court, not just to say, “Oh, elect us so that we’ll be there and we can appoint good people,” if by luck of the draw an opening comes, right? No, we’ve got to get to that reality that the court is dysfunctional, it’s not working. It needs to be reformed.

Ro Khanna and others have put forward legislative proposals who are saying, “Look, the court should be expanded. We should also consider term limits for justices. We should open up the discussion about the Supreme Court because at this point, if we don’t do that, we run the risk of coming up with creative and smart and decent workarounds that still end up getting churned into the court. And then once we recognize that, we need a different court. We need a different way of doing these things, and that requires a different Senate, at the very least, a much bolder Senate and a president that’s willing to fight on this.” And we should remember one other thing too. In many states across this country, the top education official is elected, a superintendent of public instruction. Those races are often relatively low profile races. They need to become much higher profile races.

JW: Excellent, excellent point. So really all this comes down in the end to voting and voting rights and really the main reason, the only reason that we have gotten into this situation is because of voter suppression. If we had equal access to the ballot, we know from opinion polling that most Americans would vote for more progressive candidates and more progressive legislation, and the Republicans have been working to stop this from happening for decades. As Republicans become more marginalized through their own unpopular views, they have to use more extreme means to hold onto power. For instance, January 6th, really voting rights is the mother of all politics, and we do have some examples of states where Republican power was overturned, Wisconsin in the recent election of a Progressive to the Supreme Court. I know you won’t be shocked to hear that Wisconsin now provides a kind of model for the rest of the nation of how to mobilize the progressive Democratic majority to overturn restrictions on voting that Republicans have put in place over the last many decades.

JN: We have so much voter suppression and so much voter denial, and I’m trying to get the term voter denial into the mix a little more along with suppression. We deny the reality of where our voters are with the US Senate and with the electoral college. We give disproportional power to small states, which effectively trumps, I hate to use the word, the votes from larger states. And so we have a situation where the majority of Americans are now increasingly denied. Their will is denied by our system, and those systemic problems are things we should talk about all the time. Now, we have recognized, of course, that to get rid of the electoral college, to change the Senate, both things we should do, those require constitutional amendments by most measures, and there are some workarounds with the national popular vote in that, but these are really tough challenges.

Then you have the gerrymandering of Congress of the House, which is an additional challenge gerrymandering of state legislatures. The fact of the matter is if you came from outside the United States and you looked at the whole system in this country, you would say, “Wow, there’s a country that really doesn’t want a lot of people to vote. If they do vote, wants to make sure that the will of those people who vote isn’t reflected in the governance of the country.” That is a really awful circumstance to be in, and it’s one we should be focused on at all sorts of levels. The fact of the matter is getting the focus on at the federal level is difficult because the federal level is such a reflection of those barriers. So the action of the states, as in the progressive era of 100 years ago, more than 100 years ago, becomes really important, and that’s where we come back to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is a state that Republicans through huge amounts of outside spending money from billionaires who didn’t live in Wisconsin, was transformed into a pretty conservative state. There was a period in the 2000 tens where there were a lot of people who thought that Wisconsin was going to become a red state as our neighboring state of Iowa, at least to some extent, has in recent years. That didn’t happen. That didn’t happen because of some historical, geographical, and demographic balances that worked out, but also because of an immense amount of hard work and that hard work and focus recognized where the races that matter are. In Wisconsin now, Progressives have control of the governorship, most statewide elected offices, and as of August 1st, they’ll have control of the state Supreme Court that should be sufficient to begin to undo some of the damage as regards gerrymandering and a host of other issues.

I would say, and I wrote a big piece for The Nation on this writing about Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Party, that there is a model there and that is a model that can apply in any state in the country. There is no state where you shouldn’t at least be looking at that strategy of building over time.  In Wisconsin, it took 10 years focusing on the races that matter and figuring out strategically how to undo the worst of this damage and to remove these barriers. It’s sad, frankly, that we have to do it state by state. It’s challenging. It’s not the way it should be, but because we have so-called battleground states in the US, you don’t have to do all 50 states. I believe in a 50 state strategy. I think you should, but the simple reality is that if you can make this progress in a handful of states that are so-called battlegrounds and that can then influence presidential politics as well as Senate races and House races, we have an opening to get a different Congress.

In Wisconsin, you could see two, even three US House seats flipped from Republican to Democrat if there’s a fair map, and more of that around the country. You’ve got this opening where we can start to deal with some of these problems. When and if Democrats get substantial majorities again in the House and the Senate and hold the White House as they had as recently as 2008 or 2009, when they get that, they have to put reform of this broken system front and center. You can’t make reform the issue you get to after you do 10 other things. It’s got to be central to what you do.

And so hopefully Wisconsin does help to provide a sort of light in the distance that can guide states across the country toward a way that might work on doing some of this, hopefully then that leads to a Senate with a solid, Progressive majority, at least Democratic majority, and leading to a progressive presidency that goes with it that helps to change the court and hopefully a House that through fair maps works with that Senate and with that president by the end of this decade. If we focus in correctly on how to do politics, there is a real possibility that we can move the country in a much more progressive direction.

JW: John Nichols: his book, It’s Okay to Be Angry about Capitalism, is co-authored by Bernie Sanders. You can read him every week at John, thanks for talking with us today.

JN: It’s a great pleasure, Jon. Thanks for having me.

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