How the Democrats Turned Milwaukee into a Cesspool
A look at the political roots of the Milwaukee riots.
Tuesday in riot-torn Milwaukee, Donald Trump pointed out a very blunt and irrefutable truth: “The Democratic Party has run nearly every inner city in this country for 50 years, and run them into … ruin,” with “crime policies, education policies, and economic policies [that] have produced only more crime, more broken homes, and more poverty.” And indeed, wherever we look—Atlanta, Camden, Newark, St. Louis, Chicago, Flint, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington—we see one-party cities that are crumbling testaments to the awesome power of bad ideas. Specifically, Trump referenced “the situation right here in Milwaukee, a city run by Democrats for decade after decade,” citing its high rates of homicide, joblessness, poverty, and educational failure.
But Milwaukee wasn’t always like this. It was once a prosperous metropolis with a host of thriving industries, particularly renowned for its breweries and manufacturing. Modern-day Democrats and their leftist allies, however, snuffed out those good-ol’-days like a jackboot on a cigarette butt. Every mayor of Milwaukee since 1960 has been a Democrat, and the one who served just prior to 1960 was Frank Paul Zeidler, an open Socialist. Overseeing the large-scale construction of public housing as a means of promoting racial and economic justice, Zeidler spoke out forcefully in favor of what he termed “public enterprise,” the notion that government could uplift the condition of the poor via the efficient dispensation of taxpayer-funded public services—a theory that quickly became an article of faith among Democrats.
Milwaukee’s black population nearly quintupled during the course of Zeidler’s twelve-year mayoralty, and the burgeoning civil-rights movement began to make its presence felt in the city. But local black radicals, allied ideologically with the black militancy that was sweeping many American cities in the Sixties, became wholly dissatisfied with what they viewed as the inadequate pace of racial reforms. And in the summer of 1967 the race riots that rocked Detroit and Newark sparked a similar outburst in Milwaukee.
In response to the rioting, Democrat Henry Maier, who served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1960-88, swiftly unveiled a “39-Point Program” designed to address the inner-city problems of poverty and racism that liberal Democrats widely cited as the causes of the riots. Alternatively dubbed the “Little Marshall Plan,” this program sought to enlist government at all levels—local, state, and federal—to pour rivers of cash into initiatives like housing construction, youth programs, and “community renewal,” as a means of pacifying an angry populace. But in the eyes of local black leftists, it was too little, too late. As Vel Phillips, a black member of Milwaukee’s Common Council, said in April 1968, the mayor’s 39-point program had failed to demonstrate any “visible effect on the root causes” of ghetto unrest. “I don’t believe in violence,” added Phillips, “… but we’d all better realize that many young Negroes have reached the point where they’re ready and willing to die because they figure they have nothing to lose.”
When the Sixties ended, Milwaukee was still known chiefly for its manufacturing industry. But as the cost of manufacturing in the U.S. skyrocketed in subsequent decades—in large measure because of the unsustainably lavish deals that pro-Democrat unions repeatedly negotiated on behalf of their dues-paying members—many of these businesses elected to move their operations abroad. Between 1970 and 2011, Milwaukee lost no fewer than 40% of its manufacturing jobs—a trend that dealt a severe economic blow to the entire city. Today, per capita income in Milwaukee is $19,636 (32% below the national average); median household income is $35,489 (33% below the national average); and the poverty rate is 29.4% (nearly double the national average).
While joblessness and poverty plague the lives of so many Milwaukeeans, the ever-present threat of crime may be an even larger affliction for them. Milwaukee today has a violent crime rate that is 4 times higher than the national average.
The children of Milwaukee, meanwhile, have their own heavy cross to bear. Though the city’s public school system annually spends some $14,599 (about one-third more than the national average) in taxpayer funds on the education of each K-12 student in its jurisdiction, the overall high-school graduation rate in the Milwaukee Public Schools is a paltry 60.6%—far below Wisconsin’s 88% statewide average. On standardized National Assessment Of Educational Progress tests administered to measure students’ academic abilities in math and reading, Milwaukee students perform abysmally.
In 1990 the Wisconsin State Legislature passed a bill creating the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), a voucher initiative that has proven to be highly successful and cost-effective. But the Democrat-aligned teachers unions have fought tooth-and-nail against the MPCP, smearing voucher programs as “slash and burn” measures designed to “destroy public schools.”
In short, Milwaukee is a city that has been mismanaged into the ground by leftist Democrats and their uncompromising belief in high taxes, massive public spending, and soft-on-crime policies founded upon the twin pedestals of white guilt and black infantilization.
If a cesspool of poverty, crime, and ignorance, like Milwaukee, has been a one-party city for decade upon decade, isn’t the cause of its plight rather obvious?