Time for a change

I have decided to move on from Blue Jean Nation. The interest level in the organization’s work is not nearly high enough for it to be as impactful as I’d like it to be going forward, so I am going to be transitioning to the next phase in my life by year’s end if not sooner. My mind is wide open about what that new challenge might be. I can’t wait to figure it out, and will be doing a great deal of thinking and will be picking a lot of people’s brains in the coming weeks and months.

The four years since Blue Jean Nation was born have been a grand adventure and an amazingly rewarding experience. To all of you who volunteered your time and invested your money in this effort to help bring about change in our political system and empower common people, I can’t begin to tell you how much your support has meant. Thank you, a thousand times.

In just four years, your involvement made Blue Jean Nation enough of a force to spawn community groups and neighborhood teams in rural and urban places alike that are bringing people together and getting them engaged in doing democracy. It has stimulated community conversations all over the state on seemingly impossible-to-solve problems. I’ve lost count of the number of people Blue Jean Nation inspired to run for office at the local, state and even federal level. Some of those candidates won their elections, most didn’t.  But all of them were difference makers, and their communities and our whole society are better for it. Many others put the ideas behind Blue Jean Nation into action by challenging establishment insiders for party leadership positions, and quite a few of them have been successful in shaking up the status quo and infusing party organizations with new blood and fresh thinking.

In keeping with Blue Jean Nation’s mission, we have been doing “bridging the divide” workshops across Wisconsin and recently developed a how-to guide on ways to buck the system and take the high road when running for office or helping someone else run. Hopefully those will have lasting beneficial effects. I am scheduled to give a number of presentations and participate in various forums in the weeks ahead and I intend to honor those commitments.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences of the last four years for anything, but they have come at a considerable cost. Over the course of these years, I chose to forego upwards of $150,000 in income I was authorized to receive, opting instead to plow the money back into the programs and infrastructure of the organization. I only regret that the investment didn’t result in something bigger and better and even more worthwhile.

There is still so much that needs doing, and I will be trying to figure out how to best put my energies to the most constructive use. I contemplate next steps with far more questions than answers about what the future holds, but also with a heart full of gratitude for all who have helped and inspired me along the way.

Mike McCabe

April 15, 2019