• Bob Fest 2015 Image


By Virginia Kirsch

Bobfest 2015 occurred September 19 in Madison’s historic Breese Stevens Field. It is the fourteenth year for this unique event. Hundreds of people came for a fun day oF progressive politics and music.

Bobfest is named after Robert M. “Fighting Bob” La Follette, who presented many speeches in many parks and fairgrounds throughout Wisconsin 100 years ago. He fought to put government back in the hands of the people.

Once again, Wisconsin is in the hands of moneyed forces that obey special interests and buy politicians for themselves. The need is great to turn the tables on those who put profits ahead of people.

Speakers included Ruth Conniff, Editor-in-Chief of The Progressive Magazine (founded by Bob LaFollette). Her major focus has been keeping public schools public for all children.

Mark Dimondstein is President of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 employees of the U.S. Postal Service. He has transformed the Union into a fighting activist organization. He has strengthened the unity among the four postal unions and has led the fight against a privatization scheme involving the office-supply chain, Staples.wi-1848-fist

Another speaker was Jesse Hagopian, associate editor for Rethinking Schools magazine. Jesse teaches history and is the co-adviser to the Black Student Union at Garfield High School, where he successfully led the boycott of the MAP test in 2013. He is the editor of MORE THAN A SCORE: THE NEW UPRISING AGAINST HIGH-STAKES TESTING.

You can read an excellent interview with Jesse Hagopian in the latest issue of PROGRESSIVE magazine.

A speaker new to Bobfest this year was Ed Schultz, a voice for working Americans for over 10 years. Ed was the first Progressive talk show host to reach 100 radio affiliates. News and Commentary can be found daily at .

In addition to many speakers were numerous workshops.Taking the Politics Out of Women’s Health” focused on the health policies that take away essential reproductive health-care, including five abortion restrictions, two of which are unconstitutional. Politics has no place in the lives of Wisconsin women and their health care. Panelists included Rep. Chris Taylor, Severa Austin, Victoria Boucher and Lisa An.

Citizen Action & Local Control to Save Our Natural Resources was the workshop led by Mary Dougherty, Sarah Lloyd, Lou Anne Roby & Bonnie Vance. Defending our clean water, air and land in our beloved state is still achievable. But it will take extraordinary leadership of many citizens. We cannot rely on politicians. Fortunately, many activist Wisconsin citizen already have organized and made a difference in their communities to protect our natural resources.

Another workshop looked at the current political vocabulary and realized our political terms are no longer adequate. We need new ways of talking about politics. We need political words that connect to reality. Panelists included Ellen Holly, Mike McCabe, Julie Wells and Scott Wittkopf.