Senator Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. (United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs)

Robert La Follette was a Governor of Wisconsin from 1901 to 1906 and then a Senator from 1906 to 1925. He was a key figure during the Progressive Era that ended the Guilded Age, beginning his career as a Republican and ending as a Progressive third party presidential candidate who once took 17% of the national vote. He opposed rampant corporate power and bossism and he supported a large number of progressive reforms, quoted here from Wikipedia:

…the first workers’ compensation system, railroad rate reform, direct legislation, municipal home rule, open government, the minimum wage, non-partisan elections, the open primary system, direct election of U.S. Senators, women’s suffrage, and progressive taxation. He created an atmosphere of close cooperation between the state government and the University of Wisconsin in the development of progressive policy, which became known as the Wisconsin Idea. The goals of his policy included the recall, referendum, direct primary, and initiative. All of these were aimed at giving citizens a more direct role in government. The Wisconsin Idea promoted the idea of grounding legislation on thorough research and expert involvement. To implement this program, La Follette began working with University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty. This made Wisconsin a “laboratory for democracy” and “the most important state for the development of progressive legislation”. As governor, La Follette signed legislation that created the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library (now Bureau) to ensure that a research agency would be available for the development of legislation.

It is that need for direct involvement by people in their government that has brought about the current protests in the state of Wisconsin. Fighting Bob would likely be very proud to see people marching and fighting for the same reforms he helped to put in place.

Wikipedia: Robert M. La Follette, Sr.

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