Walkergate is in major part an outgrowth of Milwaukee's especially virulent case of white flight | WisCommunity

Walkergate is in major part an outgrowth of Milwaukee's especially virulent case of white flight

Joan Walsh at Salon.com does yeowoman's work summarizing an important but not well understood aspect of Walkergate: How did it become possible for a conservative like Walker to rise in political progressive Milwaukee politics and then surround himself with racist cretins in charge of running a culturally and economically diverse county? In two words: White flight. Here's an excerpt from Walsh's latest Salon column:

... [T]he Progressive [magazine] just found another doozy: Walker scheduler Dorothy Moore ranting against a directive to call illegal immigrants “undocumented.” Walker himself replied: “Don’t hold back.”

These racist emails matter. Scott Walker is the product of suburban Milwaukee backlash politics, which buoyed Republicans in what had become for a while a Democratic stronghold – think Gaylord Nelson and William Proxmire — and also helped make the Milwaukee metropolitan area the single most segregated place in the country. White flight to the suburbs and exurbs explains why, and so does the failure to develop any kind of regional transit system connecting the inner city and those suburbs – and Scott Walker helped block the light rail proposals of Milwaukee’s mayor and other city leaders as Milwaukee County executive.

As University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Marc Levine told Salon’s Daniel Denvir in 2011: “Most of our history is very similar to Chicago, Cleveland or even Baltimore. Every place has had the zoning ordinances, then restrictive covenants, the practices of realtors. The standard history. What makes Milwaukee a little bit different than these other places, which explains why we’re consistently in the top five and often No. 1, in segregation? We have the lowest rate of African-American suburbanization of any of these larger cities.”

Of the 30 biggest metropolitan areas, Levine’s research found, Milwaukee also had the largest vote gap between city and suburb in 2008. City residents supported Obama by more than 30 points over suburbanites.

That’s the context in which Nardelli and Kindfleisch chuckled over comparing welfare recipients to dogs, and shared nightmares about waking up black, Jewish and gay. These are the people Scott Walker chose as top aides as he rose up in Wisconsin GOP backlash politics. National reporters shouldn’t be so callow as to turn away because they didn’t find any Walker crotch shots among the emails.


February 23, 2014 - 11:07am