FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention

Still smarting from their Wisconsin gubernatorial loss, Scott Walker’s chief publicist/polemicist, Christian Schneider, advanced an Op-Ed last week in the Washington Post  in response to the Democratic Party’s Milwaukee placement of their 2020 convention. The Op-Ed reads like an attempt to position Walker for a political comeback. Milwaukee’s convention threatens Walker’s political future, because despite Milwaukee’s failings, many parts of the city are presently thriving. Walker built his political brand attacking Milwaukee’s progressive past and blowing hard into his dog whistle that called racist voters to his side. John Dean, Richard Nixon’s former chief counsel has called Scott Walker “more Nixonian than Nixon.” A humorless man bereft of the vices that make people interesting, Walker only knows and cares about the algebra of power. It is clear his only goal is to recapture political office. Having only barely lost the 2018 gubernatorial contest by 30k votes, he sees his return readily within reach. The Democrats’ convention will counter his narrative of a city taking the rest of the state down that Walker has disgracefully crafted in the past. Thus, last week, in a typical Nixonian move, Schneider was given the task of taking down the convention, thus leaving Walker above the fray to smile and declare the news of the convention good for the city.

Scheider’s Washington Post Op-Ed attacking Milwaukee and the convention presented 3 themes: 1) Wisconsin leans conservative, not progressive, therefore don’t expect this convention to do the Democrats any favors for the 2020 Presidential contest. 2) Governor Walker delivered a set of policy victories that show progressive policies will be unpopular in Wisconsin. 3) That Scott Walker should take the victory lap for landing the Dems’ 2020 convention, since he supported funding construction of the conference venue.

First, Schneider declared the common wisdom on why Dems lost Wisconsin is wrong (i.e., Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to visit WI during the campaign), even while being half right for reasons he does not understand. It’s not that Wisconsinites dislike ‘progressive’ Clinton. It is that they dislike ‘third-way’ DNC establishment Hillary. It’s possible that visits to Wisconsin by HRC’s Hamptons and Hollywood campaign during the general election might not have pushed her to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue via a Wisconsin win. Schneider, however, fails to mention that HRC visited Wisconsin in the primary campaign, only saying she failed to visit in the final weeks of the presidential campaign. It’s the kind of language parsing Walker’s people rely on to construct false narratives, yet maintain plausibility in being able to later deny. The reason HRC’s visit during the general election might not have helped win Wisconsin, however, is because she was indeed unpopular in WI, where Bernie Sanders beat her by a whopping 13% in the primary. Moreover, Jill Stein (considered by many to the left of HRC, regardless of whether one likes her or not) took enough votes from Clinton in the general election to allow Trump’s victory. In short, Wisconsin is strongly “progressive” (contra Schneider’s assertion) even if also strongly conservative. In Wisconsin, it is the political center that is weak. Clinton failed the day in 2016 not because she was considered progressive, as Schneider hints, but because she was considered not progressive at all.

Second, Schneider argues that Wisconsinites unlikely support a progressive agenda, given Governor Walker’s policy “successes.” Schneider asserts Wisconsinites will not support progressive policies, such as Medicare for All, because such a high number of Wisconsinites already have healthcare. Scheider’s alchemy, however, looks to spin gold out of his soggy wool. The reason so many Wisconsinites are covered by private health insurance is because the state was dead last (50th of 50 states) in new business startups Walker. New businesses often lack resources to insure workers. Wisconsin relies disproportionately on old industries for employment, thus a greater percentage of Wisconsin’s workforce in its entrepreneurially starved economy still have private health insurance as they work for legacy  industries. But, as businesses continue shedding costs, who knows how long health insurance will be provided by these older industries? The ‘known known’ is that co-pays and other costs keep rising and healthcare keeps getting less affordable. In short, the private health insurance model has been broken for decades and needs to be dispatched in favor of public provisioned healthcare.

Schneider also blames decades long socialist leadership of Milwaukee as having delivered only hardships to the city. First, under genuinely progressive leadership, Milwaukee re-elected socialist mayor Frank Zeidler by 72% in 1952. In 1958 Fortune Magazine labeled Milwaukee as the 2nd best run city (1st would have been too immodest for Wisconsinites) under socialist rule and wages remained 30% above the national mean even in 1970. Schneider blames progressive “regulation” for Milwaukee’s decline in the 1980s, when in fact the chief hit the city’s economy  took was was when Ronald Reagan moved to halt stagflation with a massive restriction of the money supply. This revalued the dollar upward, thus dealing a devastating blow to Milwaukee’s export-based industries, rendering them uncompetitive on global markets. Moreover, the GOP has been in charge of Wisconsin from the 1980s to present for much of that time, including with Scott Walker as former Milwaukee County Executive where he left a fiscal mess of deferred maintenance costs and slashed budgets for parks, workers and the needy.

Schneider also declares Walker delivered the stadium (the 2020 proposed DNC conference venue) making the Dem’s convention possible. While true that Walker never saw a giveaway to big business (e.g., Foxconn) or big contractors he did not like, the partially public-financed Milwaukee Bucks’ Fiserv Forum had bipartisan support, even if progressives (such as the authors) opposed this massive deployment of public cash for a privately owned building.

By several metrics, Milwaukee is making a comeback, even though its return has not yet reached many of its minority communities and its white working class. Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP built their brand attacking Milwaukee and people of color. Controlling the narrative of the past and present is essential for their hoped for return to power. Walker and Schneider need to paint Milwaukee as a failed progressive city governed by socialists. Milwaukee’s recovery challenges that narrative, as what people will find if they learn about Milwaukee’s true progressive past (its socialist period).

Meanwhile, cheers to Milwaukee’s socialist past with cautious hope it might return. As for Scott Walker, let’s keep him in retirement…

 

Jeffrey Sommers is Visiting Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. Christopher Fons is a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher and member of the Executive Board of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
T.J. Coles
Jeremy Corbyn: Electoral “Chicken” or Political Mastermind?
Joseph Natoli
The Vox Populi
Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Pirates of Gibraltar
John Feffer
Hong Kong and the Future of China
David Rosen
The Likely End to Roe v. Wade?
Ishmael Reed
When You Mess With Creation Myths, the Knives Come Out
Michael Hudson
Break Up the Democratic Party?
Paul Tritschler
What If This is as Good as It Gets?
Jonah Raskin
Uncensored Tony Serra: Consummate Criminal Defense Lawyer
Ryan Gunderson
Here’s to the Last Philosophes, the Frankfurt School
Michael T. Klare
The Pompeo Doctrine: How to Seize the Arctic’s Resources, Now Accessible Due to Climate Change (Just Don’t Mention Those Words!)
Luke O'Neil
I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them
Louis Proyect
The Intellectual Development of Karl Marx
Tom Clifford
How China Sees the World
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson – Negin Owliaei
Who’s Burning the Amazon?
Yasin Khan
Rideshare Drivers are Employees, Not Contractors
Ralph Nader
Big Business Lies Taught a Watchful Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Sacking of John Bolton
Andrea Maki
Wild Love Preserve Founder: Our Path Forward
Jeremy Kuzmarov
The War in Eastern Ukraine May be Coming to an End But Do Any Americans Care?
Tim Davis – Stan Grier
Protect the Sacred Grizzly Bear, Follow Those Who Know Grandmother Earth
Clark T. Scott
Super-Delegated and Relegated
Jim Britell
Lessons From America’s Greatest Grassroots Campaigns 
Howie Hawkins
Workers Need More Rights and Economic Democracy
Ramzy Baroud
‘Justice is Indivisible’: Screams of Israa Ghrayeb Should Be Our Wake-up Call
Jill Richardson
It’s Not About Your Straws and Your Light Bulbs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail