Monthly Archives: November 2003

Protests from London to NYC

Reading about anti-Bush protests in London reminds me that the Republican National Convention will be held next summer in New York City, where a lot of people are Democrats, against the war, and angry about federal economic policies, from the big tax cuts to the scanty post-9/11 aid for New York. I hope there will be massive protests, but I hope that the organizers will heed the following message, which Harry Boyte saved from the March on Washington in 1963. In the program guide, Dr. Martin Luther King and the other organizers wrote: “In a neighborhood dispute there may be stunts, rough words, and even hot insults; but when a whole people speaks to its government the dialogue and the action must be on a level reflecting the worth of that people and the responsibility of that government.”

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using Movable Type

On the advice of Frederick

Emrich (who runs an excellent blog), I’m switching over from plain

old html to the fancy and free blog software provided by Movable (sic) Type.

The disadvantage is that I’ve had to change the address of this weblog.

Please change any bookmarks or links that you’ve established. The advantages

are: an easy way for me to blog from any computer anywhere; opportunities

for visitors like you to post comments (which I welcome); a search function;

and permanent URLs for each entry, so that people can more easily link

to specific posts.

The GOP and voter mobilization

Racine, WI: I’ve been told that the Republican Party has conducted

more than 50 randomized experiments to test which methods and

messages most efficiently persuade people to vote. My organization,

CIRCLE, has also funded and collected such randomized

field tests, although we are a nonprofit organization, so we can

only test completely neutral, non-partisan messages ("Vote for

someone this fall").

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Fighting Bob La Follette

Near Racine, WI: I’m at Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful Wingspread estate for a meeting of the Grant Makers’ Forum on Community and National Service. Yesterday, on my way here, I had a chance to visit the State Capitol in Madison, which I’d never seen before. The Capitol building was erected under then-Senator Robert (“Fighting Bob”) La Follette. I wanted to see it because I once spent most of a year studying his career. Some of the information I collected found its way into my New Progressive Era book, although I abandoned most of the historical detail. La Follette was a major figure, and a successful one insofar as he transformed his home state, passed major legislation in Washington, and drew millions of votes in two presidential campaigns. On the other hand, many of his favorite causes and greatest battles ended in defeat, and the Progressive movement faltered in the twenties. I believe that he faced several dilemmas that we still haven’t figured out how to solve:

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New Orleans and Salt Lake City

I’m writing this on Sunday night, flying from New Orleans to Madison, WI, on a precisely northward path across Middle America. I was in New Orleans to give a keynote luncheon address at the International Conference on Civic Education Research. Nine days ago I gave a similar speech at the International Conference on Service-Learning Research in Salt Lake City. I keep thinking about the contrast of these venues. Salt Lake City in November is cold, dry, thousands of feet above sea level, rimmed by snowcapped peaks. It seems a place of stark contrasts, with no gradations between the city and the wilderness, the lake and the desert, the Mormons and the non-Mormons, the prosperous clean-cut business people and the few homeless men with their prophet beards and wild eyes. Large banks and hotels (Victorian or modernist) stand foursquare between straight wide avenues and barren lots. The huge moon and streetlights make the night as light as day. Almost everyone I saw was white.

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