Why you should read The Sconz


Anybody who’s in Madison this summer is lucky to be there. All those things (besides Badger sporting events) that were displayed to you in those glossy UW brochures back in high school are actually available during the summer. That romanticized vision of college where you hang out on Bascom Hill, alternating between Dostoevsky and a game of Frisbee, is actually possible, although perhaps not plausible. All the things Mother Nature deprives you of in January, February, March…April..often May, are definitely available come June. Nights at the terrace, BBQs at Picnic Point – all that stuff is great and I am confident that most of you will take advantage of it to a certain extent. However, I am not quite as confident that all of you are going to take advantage of another aspect of this summer that makes Madison particularly interesting to the student/soon-to-be-unemployed population: the Wisconsin Legislature is in session.

Not only is our state government back in full force, but an emboldened Democratic Party now has control over the State Senate, the State Assembly, and of course, the governor’s mansion. To a certain extent, both the governing Democrats and the opposition Republicans are playing the same game that’s going on in Washington now, with liberals attempting to push through aggressive economic stimulus measures and Republicans trying to block the new wave of spending by citing concerns for exploding debt and future tax hikes. The state situation mirrors the national dialogue even more so because of the state’s horrendous budget deficit. The projection never seems to stop climbing, even with increased assistance from the federal government as well as big cuts in government jobs.

Despite the recession, there is also a healthy discussion of long term goals in the legislature. Health initiatives, including a new statewide smoking ban and new contraception guidelines for pharmacies, have been passed or are in the process of being debated. Democrats are seeking to increase worker protections for wages, as well as crack down on racial profiling. Some representatives are really pissed that restaurants located on golf courses are not automatically entitled to liquor licenses.

With the recession hitting traditional media the hardest, including both campus papers, it’s especially important now for local bloggers to shine the light on city and state governments. Cable news certainly isn’t going to do anything about it. The onslaught of viagra commercials, moron hacks and kidnappings that the 90’s generation of news provides us allows corruption to fester at even the highest levels of government. Even though we are privileged in Madison to host two of the most prestigious student newspapers, frankly, neither the Herald or the Cardinal offer much more than the most superficial analysis when it comes to local politics. Both sides of an issue are often reported based on how their hack sources dictate it to them. The best example of this would likely be the Herald’s automatic quote from Rep. Steve Nass on any state-related matter. Both papers tend to lack a certain investigative spirit that is the foundation of good journalism. Ironically though, I do agree with Kyle Szarzynski to a certain extent when he accuses the Herald of being influenced by the Critical Badger.

Luckily, our generation can and already has done something to fix this. A good local example would be Danny Spirn, the creator of the Critical Badger blog, who has created a forum for discussion of something some people barely know exists: campus politics. Other Madison bloggers, such as former mayor Paul Soglin,  focus more on city and state politics. However, many of them do it in a somewhat ad hoc fashion, posting only occassionally or only about topics they are passionate about. What I’d LIKE to do is try and bring a consistent discussion of the politics of the dairy land, the city, and the campus, giving objective political and policy analysis, as well as creating a new forum for discussion of progressive politics.

The word “progressive” has been sullied by a small group of rigid ideologues who are utterly disinterested in examining any issue which cannot be portrayed as “leftists” vs. “fascists.” Sometimes the antagonistic approach works. But it really isn’t a good long term strategy, and the soap opera between Chynna Haas and Kyle Szarzynski was only too predictable for anybody who’s spent time talking to enough of these activist primma donnas. It is admirable that the campus left takes a stand on issues like immigrants rights, however, what is pathetic is its total absence from the debate on issues that don’t invite name-calling. If the Republicans on campus weren’t even bigger morons they would try to capitalize on the situation and portray themselves as the “rational opponents” of the stunts pulled by the “radicals.” Even so, it’s frightening how many reasonable people who are familiar with local politics come to associate the entire left with this type of nonsense.

Anyhow, I hope The Sconz can be a forum for best strain of Wisconsin progressivism, in the spirit of LaFollette and Feingold, which emphasizes the basic tenants of a strong social democracy, based on clean and open government at all levels, a commitment to basic services for the poor, civil liberties and protection of the environment. I’ll try to really get into the nitty gritty of legislation and talk to as many people as possible so we can really get a good picture of what’s going on in these issues that are often reduced to intellectually dishonest talking points.

So please read me, criticize me, email me, but most of all, come back soon!


7 Responses to “Why you should read The Sconz”

  1. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    Ah, yes, yet another forum expressing the pseudo-progressive (or “pragmatic” progressive) politics of the campus establishment. Yet another forum which attacks leftist activists for caring enough to actually do something. If you criticize Obama from the left or point out that opposition to immigrant rights is the definition of xenophobia, you must be “rigidly ideological.” (As opposed to the “pragmatists” who gush over whatever Democrat is up for election – now those types know how to think for themselves.)

    You also serve to confuse your readers by distinguishing LaFollette/Feingold from the campus left, since the exemplars of the progressive Wisconsin tradition have more in common with such “radicals” than they do with any of the more moderate factions (i.e. College Dems) on campus.

    This should be as fun as it is original.

  2. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    Also, who is the author of this blog?

  3. The Sconz Says:

    Thanks for the comment Kyle. If you are looking for criticism of Democrats from the left, I think you will find a relatively consistent source of it at the Sconz.

  4. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    Well, that will be refreshing. I look forward to it.

  5. Anon. Says:

    Of course you’d be scared Kyle. Yet another forum that will call you out on your constant bullshit. Your days of behind the scenes, aggressive/inflammatory rhetoric are over.

  6. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    “Your days of behind the scenes, aggressive/inflammatory rhetoric are over.”

    Nope. My “behind the scenes” shall continue until I graduate! What to do with all this power?

  7. Pragmatically Hypocritical Progressivism » North Park Street Says:

    […] one of the council’s most distinguished proponents of social justice.and in a different placeAh, yes, yet another forum expressing the pseudo-progressive (or “pragmatic” progressive) politics of the campus establishment. Yet another forum which […]

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