The Progressive Magazine is proud to present the fifteenth annual Fighting Bob Fest—the largest outdoor gathering of progressives in the country—along with our good friends at The Capital Times. It's a tradition started by the great people's advocate and progressive agitator Ed Garvey.
We are delighted to be holding the event in the historic Breese Stevens Field in downtown Madison for the second time.
What a perfect location!
The Progressive’s founder, “Fighting Bob” La Follette, would be right at home. Back in his day, rabble rousers got together at “chautauqua” gatherings throughout the United States to organize the progressive movement. With inequality once again at Gilded Age levels, it’s time to refresh our movement and join forces to rebuild our politics. Here's how one of last year's attendees put it:
I have attended the last 3 Bobfests and saw Bernie Sanders speak twice. I also met the lovely and talented Ruth Coniff backstage and talked about the Walker fiascos. Fighting Bobfest is essential and only the extremely shy should stay away. It has given me the power to stand up to the conservative bullies in my neighborhood. Viva La Ed Garvey and friends!
Inspired by the Bernie Sanders campaign, a lot of Bernie revolutionaries will be joining us this year. The sheer variety of activists who are represented on stage, at information tables, and on panels, attests to the vibrancy of our progressive movement. We welcome speakers from the Green Party, progressive Democrats, and our doors are open to the Republican speakers we invited but who declined to join us. The chautauqua is a big tent.
Among the speakers at Bob Fest 2016 are longtime progressive champions in the U.S. Senate Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the witty and irrepressible John Fugelsang, America’s favorite populist Jim Hightower, and, fresh from the Olympics in Brazil, The Progressive's great sports columnist Dave Zirin. The gonzo investigative reporter Greg Palast debuted his new movie, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, at our kickoff at The Barrymore Theatre on Thursday night, September 16, and he joins us on stage Saturday to reveal the billionaires behind the “voter fraud” scam.
Speaking of voter fraud, Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now, who boldly filed suit against the flagrantly racist efforts at voter suppression in Wisconsin, joins us on stage.
Just two weeks after the Equal Rights Amendment’s biggest enemy, Phyllis Schlafly passed away, we are honored to have Kamala Lopez, whose documentary on the new push for an Equal Rights Amendment has won major national awards, and who is a feminist champion in the mold of Belle Case La Follette, a national leader of the drive for women’s suffrage back in the early days of The Progressive.
Despite the sheer how-low-can-you-go lunacy of this election year, we have much reason to get encouraged, get fired up, and carry on the fight.
As Fighting Bob La Follette put it, “The supreme issue, involving all the others, is the encroachment of the few upon the rights of the many.” Never before have so few encroached so much upon so many. The good news is, all across the country, people are fighting back.
We welcome all our speakers today — and you, the rabble rousers and agitators who are determined to defend our progressive values and a more humane, just and welcoming vision of society.
Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of The Progressive.