On WisconsinBy Bill Kauffman for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
My friend Paul Buhle, the great historian of the American left, has edited, with his wife Mari Jo Buhle, It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest (http://www.versobooks.com/books/1076-it-started-in-wisconsin), just out from Verso. The best pieces in this collection of eighteen essays on the recent uprising in Wisconsin place the spirited pro-union and anti-Governor Walker rallies in the context of Wisconsin’s democratic populist history: in other words, as rooted expressions of a still vital La Follette tradition. Paul Buhle—who coauthored an outstanding biography of the Iowa patriot and New Left historian William Appleman Williams—notes that a “fresh, fascinating” aspect of the Wisconsin movement was its “localist or regionalist” character. “Reference to the distinctive features of Wisconsin pop culture,” he writes, “situated the resistance to Walker within the vernacular of Midwestern democracy.” Never underestimate the iconography of brats and cheddar and the Green Bay Packers.