I just received the latest issue of The Progressive Magazine and let me suggest that if you want to enjoy some good reading this weekend go out and pick up a copy.
The Progressive has been around ever since U.S. Sen. Robert M. "Fighting Bob" La Follette launched "La Follette's Weekly" on Jan. 9, 1909, some 109 years ago. Its headquarters has always been in Madison, but it's a national publication that still does what La Follette had intended: spread progressive thought throughout the country. It still bills itself as "a voice for peace, social justice and the common good."
Fighting Bob died in 1925, a year after he ran for U.S. president where he did quite well for a third-party candidate, capturing more than 16 percent of the vote, winning Wisconsin and finishing ahead of the Democrat in seven other progressive states. His platform was widely regarded as a prelude to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal 12 years later.
William T. Evjue, who founded The Capital Times just eight years after La Follette's Weekly, helped Fighting Bob's widow, Belle, edit the magazine after his death. The weekly became The Progressive Magazine in 1929 and through a series of publication changes over the years is now a bimonthly magazine that is chock full of investigative reporting, first-rate commentary and sprightly written features.
Like most political magazines, The Progressive has struggled financially. Managing editor Bill Lueders describes in the new February-March issue how it came through another crisis late last year that threatened the magazine's existence. The staff appealed to its readers for help and more than 1,600 responded with contributions large and small.
He admits that the publication, like so many that dare to look beyond the obvious, is still tens of thousands in debt, but has been given some breathing room for now. The magazine can always use help either through subscriptions or donations to the cause. You can find out more at www.progressive.org.
Speaking of Lueders, his lead-off commentary in the new issue is a clear example of The Progressive's continued gutsiness. He takes on the emptiness of the "thank you for your service" comment that has become ubiquitous, as if those who do the thanking think they're now full-fledged patriots even if they wouldn't think of serving in the military themselves. He also describes how the military is routinely used for a politician's own agenda. It's weirdly prescient as Donald Trump announces he wants a big military parade this year in Washington.
Lueder's piece is just the appetizer. There's a full-scale look at how religious leaders are at the forefront of opposition to Donald Trump and an investigative piece by Melissa Ryan on how Trump and the neo-Nazis are working hand in hand. There's a riveting look at migrant farm workers and the victories they've achieved. Erik Gunn interviews the acclaimed black pastor William J. Barber II.
Philadelphian Thomas Fox Parry probes a debt collector called Bayview that has a habit of evicting people even just a month behind on their mortgage payments and then turning the repossessed property into rental units, destroying neighborhoods in it wake. The piece comes complete with a guide on what to do if a mortgage server comes to your door. Another major story looks at the movement to unite fast-food workers and how some of the world's lowliest workers are being helped.
Publisher Norman Stockwell reviews Timothy Snyder's new book "On Tyranny," which describes how it could rise right here in America. Will Durst's political humor column is always a fun read and acclaimed sports writer Dave Zirin adds his twist on the world of athletes.
It's a great issue and an example of why it's so important to keep The Progressive in business.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. Zweifel is the co-author, along with John Nichols, of the new book "The Capital Times: A Proudly Radical Newspaper's Century Long Fight for Justice and Peace," published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. It's available on the Historical Society Press website, and at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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