Meet Matthew, our Green Bay Regional Director!
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.
I was born in Milwaukee and grew up in Oconomowoc, WI. From there I went to Notre Dame. After college I taught HS history (Ancient and Classical and US) for a year before moving back to Notre Dame to take some summer classes, with the intention of applying to graduate school that fall. I was bartending on the side at the campus hotel, and ended up spending over for two years as the Hotel Assistant Manager before moving back to Milwaukee for graduate school. In the year before starting at Marquette, I took some GIS classes at UW-Milwaukee, and this spring I graduated with my MA in History, specializing in Atlantic cultural and intellectual history in the 19th-20th century.
Q: What specifically about Progressive Takeover appealed to you?
The data-driven, personal and local focus of the organization. Down ballot state and local races typically have the most direct impact on voters’ daily lives. These offices have often been at the fore of social justice and driven change vertically to the federal level before spreading across the country. This makes local and state-level grassroots activism among the most effective methods of fighting structural inequality and promoting progressive ethics and justice.
Q: What’s your most memorable experience working in politics?
To be completely honest, this is my first paid political work. After graduate school, I realized that I could no longer tangentially work for a better political future. I had to get involved.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to working in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin is an extremely segregated state racially, politically and economically. There is a huge difference in specific needs between different communities, which is why local representation is so important, yet each community will benefit from just wages, just funding and social justice.
Q: Who inspires you in politics and why?
The obvious answer is President Obama. That a black man won the presidency just 43 years after the Voting Rights Act is extraordinary and a testament to his intelligence and political talent.
Q: If you could have dinner with one former President, who would it be and why?
Living? President Obama.
Any president? John Quincy Adams. He lived through and had a hand in America’s first 50 years. While not a particularly successful politician when president, due in large part to his belief that the executive should be above party politics, he was extremely intelligent and a successful diplomat, Secretary of State, Senator and Congressman. He laid out an ambitious domestic program as president (which failed to gain political support in congress), and was an outspoken opponent of slavery, slave holding power and later the Mexican-American War. In Congress he advocated for education and science, and was instrumental in the development of the Smithsonian.
Q: Other than voting, what is one of the issues that you’re interested in?
As a gut answer I’d say social justice, but that’s a broad category focused on structural social change. So, on a more granular level, I’ll say education.
Q: What would you say to anyone who feels defeated or cynical by the state of our politics?
The youth (18-34) vote rates is around 25% in congressional election, yet overwhelmingly support progressive policies. To shamelessly amend Theodore Parker (and MLK who paraphrased Parker): the arc of history bends towards progress, but only when we fight for it.
Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest lessons the left should learn from 2016?
We need to focus on exciting, discipled progressive messages in opposition to the status quo of structural power. Further, social justice needs to be central to our message. The country and our base is growing more diverse and our candidates and policies need to reflect that.
Q: What’s something on your bucket list?
Despite the culturally and socially constructed nature of the continents, I want to visit all 5-7 conventionally accepted continents.
Q: Finally, since you’re in Wisconsin, what’s your favorite cheese?
I love manchego, but a nice cheddar will always be my favorite. American, English, Irish, I love them all. But my go-to is probably (Mineral Point, Wisconsin’s own) Hook’s 10 year aged cheddar.