Friday, March 28, 2014

How Milwaukee’s Socialist Legacy Made Scott Walker What He Is Today

The legacy of Milwaukee’s socialist past has benefitted Scott Walker in a way that could not have been predicted by the city’s early to mid-20th century socialist leaders.

“Sewer Socialism” – Milwaukee’s version of socialism that came to power in 1910 with the election of the nation’s 1st socialist mayor – Emil Seidel (later the 1912 V.P. candidate on the Socialist ticket). These Sewer Socialists worked for and put in place, among other things, public parks, and public health and traffic safety measures. It meant providing basic government services honestly and with frugality.

Prior to these ‘sewer socialists’ taking the reins of city government, Milwaukee was at least as corrupt as Chicago. They cleaned up city government and kept it clean. After Seidel came Mayor Daniel Hoan, who ran the city from 1916-1940 and then Frank Zeidler from 1948-190.

These guys weren’t the type of socialist that seeks to take over every aspect of life, they just wanted to see city government run to the benefit of all. They did it so well that not only in the city of Milwaukee but the entire state of Wisconsin, good, well run government came to be expected.

For many years, that's the way it was.

So when the pension scandal broke in 2002 and forced the County Executive, Tom Ament, along with a slew of County Supervisors, to resign, it gave Walker the opening he needed.

Walker ran for and was elected Milwaukee County Executive. Welcome to the “What, Me Worry?” era of county governance.

Walker proceeded to undermine Wisconsin’s legacy of good government practice by his now all too familiar game of “Three-Card Monty” governance: tell the public what you think they want hear while secretly doing what’s politically unwise and unpopular, then spring it on the unsuspecting public in a way that’s sure to piss them off.

If anyone finds out, throw a subordinate or two under the bus and move on. After all, who could place responsibility for the administration of the county’s business in the lap of the Executive?

That’s how he operated as County Executive, which has driven investigations of its own (and a number of former Walker employees convicted of crimes) and how he continues to operate as Governor. And, there’s more where that came from.

Don’t be fooled by this counterfeit leader or his rhetoric – that he’s looking out for the less well-off – he’s running for President (some Koch-head must have planted that idea). He has to appear to care about the 99%, after all, he needs their votes.