Bob Fest inspires attendees
Ellen La Luzerne, Staff Writer
September 27, 2012
Filed under News
The 11th annual Fighting Bob Festival was held at the Alliant Center on Sept. 15. The festival showcased an array of issues and opinions that can be found in the progressive movement. The main focus was ending wars, economic justice and democracy.
Bob Fest kicked off at the Goodman Community Center on Sept. 14, with a screening and discussion of Phil Donohue’s film “Body of War” with Donohue on hand to lead a discussion. Texas populist author and radio personality Jim Hightower and Fighting Bob Fest founder Ed Garvey also addressed the crowd at the kickoff event.
“We started 11 years ago, because we thought we should get together to celebrate our victories and to figure out how to win more battles than we lose. What it’s all about is saying to people if we work together we can achieve great things and if we’re divided we can’t,” said Ed Garvey, attorney and Fighting Bob Fest organizer.
Donohue, Hightower, Garvey and Progressive magazine political editor Ruth Conniff joined an array of progressive activists for a full day of speeches, break-out sessions, music, poetry and exhibits. Speakers include environmental author and activist Bill McKibben, independent presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill, talk radio personal Mike Papantonio, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin, former lieutenant governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, 9-to-5 executive director Ellen Bravo and a host of others.
Breakout sessions focused on themes about democracy, direct action organizing and economic and social justice. Discussions covered issues such as the destructive force of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and the America Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the so called war on women.
Jolie Lidotte, who works with Wisconsin Wave on the “No More Stolen Elections” Campaign, stressed the need for direct action.
“I’d like to see more direct democracy especially at the local level and actually have people have a voice. I’d like to see a better decision making process for students and their education, actually have decision making ability in their education systems,” Lidotte said.
The festival goers were also encouraged and energized by the announcement on Friday of the Dane County Judge Colas’ decision to overturn Act 10, the law that stripped most public sector workers of bargaining rights.
“I think the atmosphere was more energized this year than last year. In talking to people it seems there is a sense of moving forward because of the legal decision over Act 10. It seems that we are on our way to restoring rights. Last year, people seemed to be in shock over all of the setbacks we faced, so things were definitely more upbeat this year,” said Frank Emspak, Producer with the People’s Mic and Workers Independent News.
The Solidarity Singers, who regularly gather at noon at the State Capitol to engage in singing songs of protest, saw one of their own collapse during her arrest on Friday. The singers showed their resolve to continue their protest by songs, by leading a rousing sing-a-long at noon on Saturday.
Although the vast majority of the crowd was over 40, Lidotte, a 20-something, urged young people to get with the progressive agenda on issues like making education more affordable for everyone. “We need lower tuition. Its way above what working class or even middle class students can pay,” she said. “I would just encourage young people to get involved in direct action organizing. By going to events like Bob Fest or working through groups like the one I work for at Liberty Tree, we can get the tools that are needed to organize and bring it back to our campuses and fight for economic and social justice.”