Joel Rogers is a prominent U.S. academic and far left activist. He is professor of law, political science, and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madisonand a longtime government and campaign adviser and democratic activist. In his academic work, Joel has written widely on democratic theory, American politics, and public policy, including such books as On Democracy, Right Turn, The Forgotten Majority, and What Workers Want. He is currently working on problems in energy efficiency, government performance, and egalitarianism capitalism.
A contributing editor of The Nation and Boston Review, Rogers has received many academic honors and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship. Newsweek identified him as among the 100 Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century.
He is married to Sarah Siskind.
- B.A. Yale College (1972)
- J.D. Yale Law School (1976)
- M.A. Princeton University (1978)
- Ph.D. Princeton University (1984)
New Party founders
The first strategic meetings to plan the New Party were held in Joel Rogers' home in Madison Wisconsin in the very early 1990s. Present were Rogers' wife Sarah Siskind, Dan Cantor, ACORN leaders , Wade Rathke ,Zach Polett , Steve Kest and Jon Kest , Steve Cobble from the Institute for Policy Studies (in an advisory role), Sandy Morales Pope (for the first 18 months), Harriet Barlow and Barbara Dudley.
The very first meeting included Gerry Hudson from Democratic Socialists of America and SEIU and Gary Delgado, plus labor activists Sam Pizzigati and Tony Mazzocchi. Anthony Thigpenn of Los Angeles was also approached, but though supportive did not wish to play a leadership role.
New Party builder
New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 New Party activists-"some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP" the list included Joel Rogers, University of Wisconsin.
There were about 40 political directors and staff around the table, and another 60 or so people around the edges (State Federation presidents, communications staff, etc.). Bruce Colburn from Progressive Milwaukee/NP was introduced by COPE Director Steve Rosenthal, and then Bruce moderated the session. NP Chair Joel Rogers and Dan Cantor presented some overheads on fusion, offered general comments about the political moment and why labor should seriously think about independent political formations, and then took a lot of questions and comments.
Two clear positions emerged over the next 90 minutes. Several unions held the view that an independent, labor-friendly formation could tremendously increase union leverage vis-a-vis the Democrats. Interestingly, some folks also felt that it would allow them to reach members who are alienated from the Democrats but who retain economic populist views. Speaking against experimentation with independent structures were those who feel that "it's already hard enough to get our members out to vote, let alone vote on a new line." The overall reaction of those who spoke leaned slightly to the positive side, but only slightly.
- Finally, I should say a word about the guy in the back of the room who looked incredibly unhappy the entire time. He turned out to be Congressman Martin Frost of Texas, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He had to listen for almost 2 hours while the political directors of nearly every major union in America calmly discussed the New Party, fusion, and their dismay with the Democratic Party. Something tells me the DNC heard about this one.
In 1996 Milwaukee AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Democratic Socialists of America member Bruce Colburn and New Party chair Joel Rogers wrote a "provocative article in the November 18, The Nation argued "that the left's capacity for independent political action must be built from the grassroots up. Their stress on independent left electoral activity at the local level — whether inside, outside, or fused with the Democratic Party — evidences the realism of the New Party's approach to building a third electoral force".
Campaign for America's Future
Socialist Scholars 1997
The conference was themed "Radical alternatives on the eve of the millenium".
Invitees were asked to join Doug Henwood, Robert Heilbroner, Paul Sweezy, Harry Magdoff, Bill Tabb, Frances Fox Piven, Robert Fitch, Jane Slaughter and Ellen Meiksins Wood "as they debate changes in the labor movement, Marxist theory, the state of the economy, market socialism, and other areas where theory and practice meet".
Or "listen to the United States' only independent and socialist congressman", Rep. Bernie Sanders, "dialogue with" Joel Rogers of the New Party and In These Times' ....Salim Muwakkil on independent politics...
American Capitalism "Monstrous"
In 1996, Rogers, national chair of the New Party, spoke at a conference entitled "The Fight for America's Future" which was held at Columbia University, New York. Video footage from his address is in the video to the right.
Back to Basics conference
"To explore how we (the Left) can increase our presence in the mainstream of American political and intellectual life" was the way James Weinstein, editor of In These Times magazine, stated the purpose of the "Back to Basics Conference". The conference was held Oct. 9-11, at Chicago's Congress Hotel. Several hundred people attended the conference, which In These Times magazine sponsored and managed. In practice the conference urged the Left to abandon its dead-end, self-destructive course toward cultural politics and return to class politics.
Speakers included Jim Hightower, Senator Paul Wellstone, Quentin Young, environmentalist Barbara Dudley, New Party founder Joel Rogers, Christine Riddiough, Joseph Schwartz, Barbara Epstein, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Roberta Lynch.
- Joel Rogers, founder of The New Party, listed people's concerns: education, campaign finance reform, environment, raising the minimum wage, and concern about global capitalism. Neither Democrats nor Republicans take this list seriously. Liberalism relied on favorable government regulation and mass politics to deal with problems. A new time calls for new politics, emphasizing economic strategy, citizen participation, and electoral strategy.
Proportional Representation advocate
Remembering Richard Cloward
On September 20, 2001 500 people gathered at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City to celebrate Cloward’s Life and Work. Speakers included Frances Fox Piven, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Gus Newport-(all members of Democratic Socialists of America), activists Howard Zinn, June Jordan, Joel Rogers and Tim Sampson plus long time voter registration advocate, Demos president, Miles Rapoport.
DSA’s Cuba Letter
Joel Rogers signed an April 2003 Statement on Cuba, initiated and circulated by prominent Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Leo Casey, calling for the lifting of trade sanctions against Cuba.
- “a statement circulating among democratic left/socialist folks, largely by members of Democratic Socialists of America, condemning the recent trials and convictions of non-violent dissenters in Cuba”.
The petition criticized Cuba's poor human rights record, but shared the blame for Cuba's problems with reactionary elements of the U.S. administration...
- The democratic left worldwide has opposed the U.S. embargo on Cuba as counterproductive, more harmful to the interests of the Cuban people than helpful to political democratization. The Cuban state's current repression of political dissidents amounts to collaboration with the most reactionary elements of the U.S. administration in their efforts to maintain sanctions and to institute even more punitive measures against Cuba.
Many of the petition's 120 odd signatories were known members of DSA.
On November 29, 2006 Open Society Institute held a roundtable discussion entitled "How Do Progressives Connect Ideas to Action?"
- Individuals and organizations with similarly progressive goals often dilute their power by working alone or even working at cross-purposes. As Americans who are politically left of center move forward, questions of infrastructure, communication, and collaboration are particularly important.
Participants included several key leaders of the "progressive" movement;
- Deepak Bhargava Center for Community Change
- Robert Borosage Campaign for America's Future.
- Rosa Brooks Open Society Institute
- Anna Burger Service Employees International Union
- Eric Foner Columbia University, Department of History
- Michel Gelobter Redefining Progress
- Hendrik Hertzberg The New Yorker
- Alan Jenkins Opportunity Agenda
- Gara LaMarche Open Society Institute
- Jal Mehta New Vision Institute for Policy and Progress
- David Moss The Tobin Project
- Iara Peng Young People For
- Stephanie Robinson The Jamestown Project at Yale
- Joel Rogers University of Wisconsin Law School
- Andrea Batista Schlesinger Drum Major Institute for Public Policy
- Katrina vanden Heuvel The Nation editor.
- John Podesta Center for American Progress
- Michael Waldman The Brennan Center for Justice
- Matthew Yglesias The American Prospect
Center on Wisconsin Strategy
Rogers is also director of the UW-Madison-based John R Commons Center, the corporate umbrella of the Center On Wisconsin Strategy, the Mayors Innovation Project, and the Center for State Innovation. The first is an applied research center and field laboratory for high road (”triple bottom line”) competitiveness and government. The second and third promote high road policy innovation among mayors and elected state executives (governors and others).
Rogers co-founded the Apollo Alliance and served as its first chairman. He now serves on the Apollo Alliance Board.
In 2004, Joel Rogers from the Center On Wisconsin Strategy, Robert Borosage from the Institute for America’s Future, and environmental visionary Dan Carol approached Steelworkers President Leo Gerard and SEIU President Andy Stern, among others, to propose a new alliance of labor, environmental groups, business and social justice leaders called the Apollo Alliance. The Alliance, which soon included over 200 supporting organizations, released a report that year arguing for a ten-year program of investment in a “clean energy, good jobs” economy.
Green For All
Take Back America 2008
On March 18, 2008, Rogers spoke in a panel entitled "The New Green Deal" alongside Phil Angelides and Majora Carter at the 2008 Take Back America Conference. During his address, Rogers made the following statement:
- "I hope you all realize that you could eliminate every power plant in America today and you can stop every car in America today. Take out the entire power generation sector. Take out all of the transportation sector. And you still would not be anywhere near below 80% below 1990 levels. You would be closer to around 60% it would be around 68% percent and that is with bringing the economy to a complete halt. Basically."
View the complete footage of Rogers' address here.
"United States of ALEC"
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is "a scheme to remake America one statehouse at a time," says narrator Bill Moyers. "United States of ALEC" is a documentary collaboration between Okapi Productions, LLC and the Schumann Media Center. This film is the extended version of the report which first aired on public broadcasting stations nationwide featuring the investigative work of the Center for Media and Democracy and Wisconsin activists Lisa Graves, Mark Pocan, John Nichols, Mary Bottari, Joel Rogers, Julie Underwood and more.
- ↑ http://apolloalliance.org/about/board/
- ↑ http://www.epi.org/pages/economist/
- ↑ Spoiling for a fight: third-party politics in America By Micah L. Sifry, page 347
- ↑ New Party presentation to AFL-CIO NP Online News, No. 9, 10 April, 1997
- ↑ [Dem. Left, Nov./Dec. 1996]
- ↑ CAF Co-Founders
- ↑ http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/pen-l/1997m03.d/msg00084.htm
- ↑ http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng61.html
- ↑ http://www.dsausa.org/dl/DLFall2001.pdf
- ↑ http://www.nathannewman.org/log/archives/000912.shtml
- ↑ http://www.soros.org/resources/events/progressives_20061129
- ↑ Apollo Alliance website: Report entitled "High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy", page 10
- ↑ [ http://www.greenforall.org/what-we-do/building-a-movement/community-of-practice/working-groups] Green For All website, accessed May 4, 2010
- ↑ PRWatch, Two New Documentaries Spotlighting Wisconsin Screening in Madison to Benefit CMD, by PRW Staff — October 13, 2012