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Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation

Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation

Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics.
Mike wants to hear from you.
Blue Jean Nation, P.O. Box 70788, Madison, WI 53707
Email: one4all@bluejeannation.com
Phone: 608-443-6086

Blue Jean Nation - "No time for pint-sized thinking"

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Monday, 27 June 2016
in Wisconsin

wisconsin-koch-industriesAmerica has some king-sized challenges, and Wisconsin is showing more severe symptoms than most states. Here are seven ways to shake things up, starting close to home.


ALTOONA, WI - America has some king-sized challenges. Economic insecurity born of simultaneous deindustrialization and globalization. Stagnant wages. Grotesque and growing inequality. Nagging fear that the nation’s children will end up worse off than their parents. Strained social relations. Political parties that offer empty promises and false choices when they are not pointing fingers of blame at the other side. Collapsing public confidence in those parties and the democratic process.

No part of the country is immune to these conditions, but Wisconsin is showing more severe symptoms than most states. Wage and job growth in Wisconsin is lagging behind the U.S. average. The state’s poverty rate has reached its highest level in 30 years. Wisconsin leads the nation inshrinkage of the middle class.

When major change came to America in the past, it’s fascinating how often Wisconsin led the way. There’s no time like the present for Wisconsin to get back out there in the lead. With the enormity of today’s challenges, this is no time for pussyfooting.

Because most people have lost faith in the political system and are thoroughly disgusted with the politicians who continue to happily operate within that system, and because most of the general public sees big political donations as nothing more than legal bribes, the law should be brought in line with the broad public consensus that has formed. Any political donation over $200 should be legally defined as a bribe and therefore treated as a felonyAny spending by interest groups benefiting a candidate for office should be legally considered a donation.

Because wages are stagnant and economic inequality has reached alarming levels, the minimum wage should be turned into a living wage. The Fight for $15 is gaining traction in hundreds of cities across the country, the more the better, but it is far less likely to catch on in small towns and rural areas where the cost of living and average worker earnings are considerably lower than in big cities. So how about a Drive for 55, setting the wage floor at 55% of the average wage workers earn in a community or region? This would produce minimum wages at or near $15 an hour in large metropolitan areas and would substantially boost the minimum wage everywhere while flexibly accounting for differences in local economies.

Because the balance of power has been tilted against workers, rewrite the law to make forming a union a civil right for all employees in every sector of our economy.

Because the poorest of all Americans pay double the tax rate paid by the country’s richest few when all state and local taxes are factored in,taxes on the rich should be raised and taxes on the poor and middle class should be lowered until the rich pay taxes at a rate that’s at least on a par with the rate paid by everyone else if not higher.

Because feed-the-rich policies inspired by the “trickle-down” economic theory have been a miserable failure, never producing more than a trickle for the masses and causing grotesque economic inequality and the slow but steady extermination of the middle class, Wisconsin should lead the way in ending crony capitalism and put the state’s corporate welfare office — the failed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation — out of business. Use the tens of millions of dollars saved each year by abolishing the WEDC to far better use, like paying to bring high-speed Internet and mobile phone service to areas of the state without access to these 21st Century necessities.

Because education is our best hope for building a better and more prosperous future, and our best weapon against economic and social decline, Wisconsin should blaze a trail for the nation in making education as accessible and affordable for future generations as past generations made it for us. Such a lofty goal won’t be reached overnight, but the state could fast-track the pursuit by ending the failed 25-year experiment with taxpayer-subsidized private schooling and using the savings to restore funding stolen from public schools and buy down college tuition in pursuit of the goal of debt-free higher education.

And because having government as close to the people as possible and having decentralized decision making at the community level is preferable to top-down rule with authority in just a few hands,Wisconsin should restore local control by repealing all 128 laws enacted since 2011 giving state officials more say and local communities less.

There you have it . . . seven ways to shake things up, starting close to home. And here’s hoping they inspire 70 more and create a ripple effect across the country.

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Blue Jean Nation - "Bravery in the moment of truth"

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 22 June 2016
in Wisconsin

dems-v-repubThe emergence of a new major party is unlikely, and it appears American voters are doomed to a choice between the two most disliked major party nominees in polling history. They both will play on fear of the other. But what can we do?


ALTOONA, WI - In case there are some out there who still need persuading that the U.S. is on the verge of political system failure, look no further than this year’s presidential election, where it appears American voters are doomed to a choice between the two most disliked major party nominees in polling history.

The Democratic establishment has been hellbent from the get-go to nominate one of the world’s best-known political figures who also happens to be one of the least trusted and most unlikable politicians around. The silver lining to her unpopularity is that Republican insiders have so far proven incapable of preventing an even more unpopular and distrusted character from capturing their party’s nomination.

Elections are, by their nature, popularity contests to one degree or another. This presidential election is shaping up to be an unpopularity contest.

The greatest danger in continuously forcing voters to determine who they fear and hate the least is how nose-holding steers the public’s thinking away from what America’s future should look like and diverts our attention from what we all hope for and dream about. The badly corrupted and unresponsive government we have today is the product of decades of voters choosing the lesser of evils.

The continuation of the American experiment has depended on some good luck along the way. The U.S. could have come apart at the seams on more than one occasion. In our darkest moments, gifted leaders like Lincoln and FDR emerged to light a path forward. We are again at a moment of truth. The major parties have grown calcified and estranged from the masses and incapable of replacing growing darkness with light. As one commentator observed, “the elites have grown so complacent and arthritic that the existing parties are having difficulty containing the conflict and both parties seem on the verge of nervous breakdowns.”

What might come from such a breakdown is uncertain. The emergence of a new major party is highly unlikely because America has a two-party system that actively discriminates against this outcome, but it is no longer inconceivable that either or both of the major parties could splinter or even disintegrate. The only thing that is sure is that parties deserve this fate when they no longer appeal to your hopes and dreams but rather can only play on your worst fears to gain power.

It is up to us to refuse to go where the ruling elites want to take us. It is up to us to look for chances to unite when they see endless opportunities to divide. If you are alarmed by Trump, you need to realize that obsessing over the horrors of a Trump presidency won’t prevent one. It actually helps him. Likewise, if you can’t stand Hillary, you also need to understand that being consumed by how much you despise her and can’t trust her won’t stop her from inhabiting the White House.

Fear will figure prominently in both parties’ campaigns this fall. They will play on it. They will count on it. Now more than ever, the American people need to prove once again that this is the land of the brave. When they tell you what you should hate, say what you love. When they tell you what is going to be destroyed, say what you want to see created. In this oppressive darkness, it is up to us to shine light.

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Blue Jean Nation - "You and I can’t run for governor"

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 15 June 2016
in Wisconsin

county-demsIs it realistic for people who are truly reflective of the general public to run for governor, the House of Representatives? Doesn't seem so. That’s because nearly all Americans can’t realistically run for major political office. Our country is the poorer for it.


ALTOONA, WI - Representation is the foundation our political system is supposed to be built on. For authentic representation to be possible, it has to be realistic for people who are truly reflective of the general public to run for office.

By this measure, you can see that American democracy is on very thin ice when you consider what’s involved in seeking and holding an office like governor.

Those doing the campaigning in Wisconsin’s last election for governor spent well over $80 million. The popular assumption is that candidates need to have as much money as their opponents — or close to it — to be taken seriously. That thinking is mistaken, but widely accepted. That fact alone leaves nearly everyone on the outside looking in. Only a select few are able to put millions of dollars of their own money into a political campaign. Among the multitudes who can’t, most are unwilling to sell out their beliefs and principles to win over special interests capable of supplying them with the financing to compete.

Not having a personal fortune or a willingness to take out a second mortgage on your soul is not the only characteristic separating those who can run from others like you and me who can’t. Elections for governor are partisan contests, and America has a two-party system. The major parties expect candidates to join their ranks. Most Americans are turned off by both major parties at the moment, and have no interest in joining one. Candidates not only are supposed to be dues-paying party members, they are expected to take the position that their party can do no wrong and the other party can do no right. You and I and most Americans don’t believe that and aren’t comfortable pretending that we do.

There’s another thing about getting to be governor that might not rub you the wrong way, but it does me. Governors are supposed to be public servants. To my way of thinking, serving in public office puts you below the people you are elected to represent, not above them. In Wisconsin, getting elected governor entitles you to a salary of close to $150,000 a year, more than three times what the average worker makes. Governors take up residence in a 20,000 square foot lakefront mansion. Servant quarters it is not.

Never in my life have I made $150,000 in a year, and I can’t imagine getting such a lofty salary at taxpayer expense just for winning an election. One dollar less than the earnings of the average worker has a better ring to it. I’ve never lived in a mansion, and wouldn’t feel right moving into one in the name of public service. Governors should pay for their own housing, just like everyone else.

Putting governors up on a pedestal is only one way the ideal of representation is debased. Ever notice how the House of Representatives is not remotely representative of the American electorate? As a whole, the House’s membership is far older, richer, whiter and more likely to be male than the average American. That’s because nearly all Americans can’t realistically run for the office. Our country is the poorer for it.

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Blue Jean Nation - "Is a new major party now inevitable?"

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 07 June 2016
in Wisconsin

dems-v-repubALTOONA, WI - American politics is in system failure. In a democratic republic, the definition of system failure is when a clear public consensus emerges that we the people are being ruled, not represented. Current conditions fit that definition.

The latest polling by The Associated Press shows nearly all Americans now believe that neither major political party represents the views of your average voter. A mere 14% say the Democratic Party is responsive to the voters while just 8% say the same about the Republicans.

An overwhelming majority of voters told AP in no uncertain terms that neither party is receptive to fresh perspectives. Only 17% of the public say the Democratic Party is open to new ideas for dealing with the country’s problems, and a meager 10% say that about the Republican Party.

A whopping 90% of voters lack confidence in the country’s political system while upwards of half go so far as to say that the two-party structure is “seriously broken.” Seventy percent of voters, including equal proportions of Democrats and Republicans, admit to feeling frustrated about the 2016 presidential election and 55% say they feel “helpless.”

The AP is hardly alone in finding evidence of boiling public discontent with the major parties and ruling class. Pew Research Center found most Americans believe elected officials from both parties don’t care what we think, are out of touch, bought off, and put their own interests ahead of the country’s. Princeton University researchers provided a jolting explanation for why everyday Americans have good reason for feeling this way, with a study showing that public opinion has “near-zero” impact on what Congress does.

Pew has been surveying American public opinion for three-quarters of a century and has never before found such alienation from the two major parties as its polls are detecting right now. And according to Gallup polling, close to 60% of Americans want a new major party to emerge because they feel the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing them.

All of these findings are akin to tremors that foreshadow a coming earthquake. Seismic events have been rare in American politics. Never in our lifetimes has a major party splintered and disintegrated. Never in living memory has a new major party taken shape and seriously threatened the ruling parties. But it has happened before. On multiple occasions, as a matter of fact. The birth of the Republican Party coincided with the death of the Whig Party as the country wrestled with the evil institution of slavery. The Progressive movement produced major political upheaval in the Gilded Age at the end of the 19th Century, causing massive fractures within the major parties at the time and ultimately transforming both of them.

For the first time in a very long time, the signs are again unmistakable. You can feel the tremors. America is on the brink of the political equivalent of an earthquake. The landscape is going to be dramatically altered. No one has a crystal ball capable of showing us exactly when the quake will hit or where the largest chasms will open. But what is clear is that the conditions are ripe for the emergence of a new major party. Chances are the majority of Americans will get their wish soon enough.

— Mike McCabe

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Blue Jean Nation - "Seeing beyond old labels"

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 24 May 2016
in Wisconsin

public_hearingBlue Jean Nation is a grassroots uprising of commoners, anchored in bedrock that can be summed up in four words: Freedom. Democracy. Equality. Service.


ALTOONA, WI - I’d like nothing better than to see the No Labels movement succeed. But deep down I know it won’t.

Labels can be helpful and they can be harmful, but they are inevitable all the same. They are a basic human need, we depend on them. They serve as shorthand. Like a picture, a label is worth a thousand words. They also enable us to categorize, put things in order. Even if the slate could be wiped clean and all of today’s labels suddenly vanished, new ones would be created in no time.

Come to think of it, wiping the slate clean and starting over would be a great blessing, especially in politics. The old political labels have grown worthless, even toxic.

Like most Americans, I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a Republican or a Democrat. I am politically homeless. Neither “liberal” nor “conservative” accurately defines me. Only in the political world do people try to pass themselves off as purebreds, as 100% this or 100% that. Normal people are mutts. I am a mutt, and so are you. Here’s my proof. Try finding someone — anyone — who agrees with you about everything.

Being a mutt doesn’t leave you or me without a world view or philosophy of life. It does make us uncomfortable when others try to slap one of the old labels on us.

The label of my choosing is commoner. Blue Jean Nation is a grassroots uprising of commoners who look at things a certain way, but those views are anchored in bedrock that can be summed up in four words: Freedom.DemocracyEqualityService.

Freedom means being able to be who you are and live the life you want. But it doesn’t mean doing as you damn well please. True freedom is more than individual liberty. With freedom comes responsibility. Exercising one’s own freedom carries with it an obligation to respect and protect the freedom of others. Contrast this with the warped, sociopathic mindset that, for example, leads the filthy rich to believe “freedom of speech” entitles them to spend as much money as they want to amplify their voices, even if it drowns out your voice and denies you representation.

Democracy is more than a form of government, it is a way of life. Yes, the government needs to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. But so does the economy. And democracy cannot just be something we have, it has to be something we do too. It’s more verb than noun.

Equality is a core American value rooted in the rejection of royalty. It comes out of a sense of fairness and distaste for privilege. No one should get to start out at third base. A commitment to equality plus democracy plus true freedom equals social and economic justice.

Service is about looking out for each other. It is neighbors helping neighbors. It is communities coming together. It is concern for the common good. It is civic duty. It is thinking less about what we are entitled to and more about debts we owe to society. It is caring for the planet we call home and all of its inhabitants.

For us blue jean commoners, the good life and a great society stand on these four slabs of bedrock.

— Mike McCabe

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