Fighting Bob Fest’s mission is informed by the belief that public participation in government has tragically eroded, that corporations dominate the policymaking process, and that elected officials systematically neglect the public interest as they purport to represent it. The Fest’s organizers further assert that freedom and justice are defended through education, and that the exchange of ideas promotes solidarity among progressives. To this end, Fighting Bob Fest strives to provide citizens with a forum for democratic participation, where frustrations with current policies can be constructively molded into calls to action. Real action.
Robert La Follette used Chautauquas to bring people together to discuss the political issues that affected their lives. He recognized the power of informed citizens who were engaged in the political process. He utilized the momentum gained from his Chautauquas to help beat down the political corruption that resulted from concentrated wealth. He took on the railroad tycoons and other corporate tax dodgers and sought an end to their monopolies.
As we dream of democracy, the decisions of anti-democratic institutions inhabit nearly every corner of our lives. Through the commission of their daily work, America’s major corporations directly and indirectly promote urban sprawl, control the content of our media and news outlets, infiltrate our schools, block access to health care, destroy our environment, privatize our water, contaminate our food, bankrupt family farms, engage in unfair labor practices, perpetuate the wealth gap, corrupt our political process, and employ public relations spin to cover it all up.
Many progressives believe they are a small voice in their communities and that their impact on the world outside their communities is minimal. We must all realize that our hard-fought battles are significant and that we are not alone in our fights. Inspiration and support can come from sharing ideas with progressives from other communities who fight similar battles.
Progressives need to use each other’s experiences as resources. As the organizers of Bob Fest have shown, a combined effort is necessary for the progressive movement to flourish. Several voices shouting in cooperation are more likely to be heard.
——Kristi Gundrum, via FightingBob.com