The Progressive Dane putsch of the local Democrats' endorsement meeting on Jan. 10 lends itself to any number of metaphors.
None is more vivid than George A. Romero's cult horror classic, Night of the Living Dead. Remember the stiff-legged zombies, newly emerged from the tomb, crashing putrefying arms through the boarded up doors and windows to grab at the terrified family within?
Sadly, Madison's daily Progressive Dane newspaper showed no such imagination ' nor even the slightest tickle of curiosity. Instead, it played the useful idiot by portraying the interlopers as being indistinguishable from the 'local Democratic activists' in attendance.
That, as the paper reported, 200 people were jammed into a meeting room intended for half that many should have jump-started a couple of brain synapses. An inquiring mind ' even a working mind ' might have wondered what was really going on.
Instead, the unnaturally credulous Samara Kalk Derby scribbled in The Capital Times that the group 'voted against several recommendations by the party's executive board' in favor of 'candidates already endorsed by the political party Progressive Dane.'
What a co-inky-dink!
It fell to Melanie Conklin in the next day's Wisconsin State Journal to expose what the ungrateful undead had conspired to achieve: 'As Dane County Democratic Party chairman Wayne Bigelow sees it, Ald. Austin King packed the Dane County Democratic Party membership meeting with Progressive Dane members and engineered a coup.'
The PD cadres paid their $25 to become members and bend the party to their will.
What did they get for their money, Don Pardo? Like the late Ed Gein, they got new faces to wear for the April elections.
Progressive Dane's problem is that, outside of downtown Konkelville, it is in bad odor. This is a party that:
Demands totalitarian adherence to its one-size-fits-all approach.
Declares war on small business by pushing a city-only minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave. Now it wants to license owners with rental properties.
Calls for extending full voting rights to 'all adult residents of Madison,' presumably including felons and illegal aliens.
Outdoes Rube Goldberg in devising a hilariously arcane affordable-housing ordinance ' now widely conceded to be an utter failure ' that tried to promote home ownership by penalizing the accumulation of equity.
Wants to tax your parking stall.
Searches for still more things to tax (in the words of their platform, 'additional revenue options').
Wants to expropriate tax dollars to pay for its campaigns.
For all its special pleading, PD has nothing to offer the middle-class homeowners who just want their streets plowed, water drinkable, neighborhoods safe and taxes low ' good-government things on which Milwaukee's Sewer Socialists once prided themselves.
Boss Bigelow needs to drive this intolerant, divisive and meddlesome outfit out of his party, just as Fighting Bob La Follette did with the ultra-left scalawags dragging on his coattails back in the day. In May 1924, Old Bob warned his supporters of an effort to infiltrate an upcoming Farmer-Labor-Progressive Convention in St. Paul, Minn.
'The declarations of the Workers Party of America show clearly that they are seeking to use the Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota and other Progressive organizations that have lent their names to this convention as a means of advancing their own ends.... I most emphatically protest against their being admitted....'
Eight decades later, people of good will and common sense are arrayed against Progressive Dane. The Chamber of Commerce has finally lifted a sail. Business and some service unions coalesced under the Common Sense banner. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz says he refuses to 'drink the Kool-Aid' and has quit the party.
And the party is losing favor among serious candidates from the moderate center who are not instinctively hostile to business.
Last fall, the national Democratic Party claimed majority status by shedding its elitist image and reaching for the middle ' where necessary, by embracing pro-life, pro-gun and law-and-order candidates. In Wisconsin, a low-tax, pro-growth governor has won a second term amid Democratic gains in both houses of the Legislature.
The Democrats have two things the Progs need in order to win support: respectability and relevance. Lacking either, Progressive Dane decided to figuratively invade Kuwait and take its bulging bank vaults.
So here's a good-government, full-disclosure question for your aldermanic candidate in this April's supposedly nonpartisan elections: Are you now or have you ever been a member of Progressive Dane?