Fighting Bob Fest time is upon us, and everybody has a role to play.
We met last week to put the final touches on this year’s version of Fighting Bob Fest, the 11th reincarnation of what has become the largest political gathering in the state.
So it’s time to mark your calendars, because the 2012 version of “Bob Fest” is less than a month away. It will take place Saturday, September 15, in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Dane County’s Alliant Center, and its daylong program will once again feature some of the top political speakers from around the country in the tradition of the old-time political chautauquas that were common in Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette’s day.
Buddy Roemer, a one-time Democrat who switched to the Republican Party in 1991 when he was governor of Louisiana, will speak in the afternoon about the problems he sees with the enormous amounts of money that have come to dictate so much of modern-day politics in this country. Roemer, of course, has been a candidate for the Republican nomination for president as recently as this year. He suspended his campaign about two months ago.
Longtime prominent talk show host and ardent anti-war activist Phil Donahue will make a return visit to Bob Fest. Donahue will also be the featured speaker at the pre-Bob Fest rally Friday night at the Goodman Community Center on the city’s east side. That event will begin at 6 p.m.
The jam-packed program at the Coliseum, which gets under way at 8:45 a.m. and wraps up around 5:30, includes speakers like Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore, Mahlon Mitchell, Juan Cole, Jim Hightower, Jill Stein, Greg Palast, Terry O’Neill, and our own John Nichols.
Plus, nationally prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben, who has been warning of global warming and the destruction of our environment for years, has agreed to come back to Bob Fest.
FightingBob.com’s Ed Garvey and the Progressive’s Ruth Conniff will co-chair the program from the stage. A full slate of breakout sessions, in which the audience can interact with speakers and get advice on how to advocate, will take place over the noon hour.
The topics include “Climate Change,” led by Bill McKibben; the “Real War on Women,” with NOW’s Terry O’Neill, Conniff and Patricia Lowe; the “Destructive Force of Citizens United,” with Mike McCabe, John Mathews, and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting’s Norm Solomon; “Turning Progressive Defeats Into Victories,” featuring Fighting Bob La Follette biographer Nancy Unger; “Open Pit Strip Mining,” with panelists Mike Wiggens Jr., Frank Koehn, Bob Kincaid and Al Gedicks; “ALEC Exposed” with Lisa Graves and Mary Bottari; and the “Next Generation and the Progressive Movement” with panelists Leland Pan, Harriet Rowan, Arthur Kohl-Riggs and C.J. Terrell.
Additionally, David Giffey and Mike Konopacki will erect a display of “art in protest,” featuring posters and cartoons that have spoken out against war.
But, as Fighting Bob veterans know full well, there’s more to the day than speeches. Several dozen booths espousing progressive causes and organizations will be displayed throughout the Coliseum. Plus, there will be plenty of music, from the likes of the Raging Grannies to Peter Leidy, lots of good food, and the New Glarus Brewery will have its great beers on tap.
Admission to the event is free and so is parking in the Coliseum’s huge parking lot. Those who can afford to are asked to throw a few bucks into one of the collection baskets or donate online to help defray some of the expenses.
Fighting Bob Fest comes at just the right time to get energized for the incredibly important fall election.
It’s annually sponsored by FightingBob.com and The Capital Times — and I’ve yet to find someone who hasn’t gone away happy they came.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the opinion section of the Capital Times.)
August 23, 2012
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Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of the Capital Times and a FightingBob.com contributing editor.