For much of the 20th century, Milwaukee was run by socialists—and Time magazine called it “one of the best-run cities in the U.S.”
[Editor’s Note: If you want a good overview introduction to the rich and promising role of socialism in America, check out Nation Columnist John Nichols’ 2015 book “The “S” Word: A Short History Of An American Tradition”. A tradition that goes back to the American Revolution and includes Karl Marx fan boy Abraham Lincoln. As is so often the case, the republicans don’t know their American history from their next dose of Faux News bilge. — Mark L. Taylor]
By John Nichols
The Nation (4/2/19)
“If I owned all the real estate in the world, I wouldn’t feel so powerful as I do on the streets of this socialist city,” declared former New York City councilman Baruch Vladeck when he arrived in Milwaukee in 1932 for the Socialist Party’s national convention in that city.
Norman Thomas, the famed civil-rights and economic-justice campaigner who became the party’s presidential nominee that year, celebrated the fact that he was chosen for that honor in a city governed by Socialists. The success of Milwaukee under then-Mayor Dan Hoan, Thomas said, was proof that the party’s social-democratic “dreams will someday come true.”
Democrats can get ahead of the curve and disarm Trump and the trolls by embracing the opportunity that Milwaukee offers to talk about socialism as it has existed and succeeded in the United States.
“Someday” was dramatically delayed by the results of the 1932 elections. The Socialist ticket did well, securing almost 900,000 votes nationwide and registering its highest percentage of the total vote in Wisconsin. The winner of that year’s race, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, took notice: He met with Thomas after the election and borrowed liberally from proposals that had long been championed by the Socialists—for a Social Security system, unemployment compensation, strengthened labor unions, and public-works programs. Roosevelt’s New Deal took the wind out of the Socialist Party’s sails in the national arena, but the party remained a force in Milwaukee for decades to come.
Now that Milwaukee has been selected as the host city for another national convention—that of the Democrats in 2020—Republicans have suddenly discovered its history. “No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee,” griped Wisconsin Republican Party director Mark Jefferson. “And with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the embrace of socialism by its newest leaders, the American left has come full circle. It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee.” Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson said the Milwaukee convention would provide a “firsthand look” at “the risk of Democrat socialistic tendencies.”
Apart from the fact that Wisconsin’s top Republicans don’t seem to like the state—or its history—very much, the GOP response is comic. Many Wisconsinites know that their state has a long, rich socialist tradition, and that Milwaukee’s association with it is one of the coolest things about the city. …
Spoken Like A True Socialist!
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
— Abraham Lincoln