orangemike (orangemike) wrote in uwmilwaukee,
orangemike
orangemike
uwmilwaukee

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"SOCIALIST MAYOR FOR MILWAUKEE"

That was the New York Times headline one hundred years ago this morning, as our city best known for beer and gemütlichkeit made a clean sweep of it, electing not only a patternmaker (and small businessman) as mayor, but a majority of the city and county boards as well.

We were never a city where the majority of voters were convinced believers in socialism; but they were convinced believers in our Socialists, a party known for rigorous honesty and upright governance, in an era where such things were often in short supply. The boring probity of Milwaukee's Social Democratic party (the official name for many years) was to lead other city's more raucous factions to coin the term "Sewer Socialist" for the Milwaukee crowd, a group more prone to boasting about their public improvements like lakefront parks, world-class health departments and yes, state-of-the-art sewer systems than to running around bragging about how revolutionary and proletarian we were.

This may be why during America's darkest ages, of Babbitry in the 1920s and McCarthyism in the 1950s, Milwaukee kept electing and re-electing Socialists as Mayor. The most recent of these, Frank Zeidler, died a few years ago; and I miss him to this day.

When you hear Eisenhower Republicans like Obama and Harry Reid savaged as scheming Socialists, please remember that here in America's heartland, there was a time when that was a label worn with pride and honored with the people's votes.
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