Wisconsin’s Unions Can Use a Good Kick in the Ass

by Dan Knauss on February 26, 2011 · 8 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Politics & Power,Region & Place


“It’s late and she is waiting, and I know I must go home,

But every time I start to leave, they play another song,

Then someone buys another round and whatever drinks are free,

What made Milwaukee famous has made a loser out of me.”

In light of recent political events and as a twelve-year, soon-to-be ex-Milwaukee, ex-Wisconsin resident, any nostalgia for the happy days of “Fighting Bob” La Follette and Wisconsin labor unions sets my teeth on edge. Those days are long gone, and gone too are their chief enablers — an industrial economy based on mechanized global war, cheap and wastefully used energy, and an all but officially segregated society. It’s worth remembering that intact neighborhoods and family-supporting wages came at costs that included these profound evils, most of all the segregation that made Wisconsin’s biggest city famous not for beer but for racism as the “Selma of the North.”

Still the biggest city and metro region in the state, still mired in segregation, but stripped of a healthy local economy that’s marched off to the ‘burbs, Milwaukee continues to cling to nostalgia for the days of municipal socialism, without much thought to how its bills get paid — or don’t. This year, that’s probably going to change — one of the salutary benefits of newly minted Republican Scott Walker’s fiscal revanchism, which includes a plan to take away collective bargaining for certain public sector unions and the groundwork for selling off heating, cooling, and power plants in no-bid deals to billionaire supporters.

Widely decried as an attack on the middle class, the working man, ancient right, sacred custom, and great progressive ideals, Governor Walker’s budget “reform” bill is not without one source of significant appeal: as a well-earned kick in the rustbelt’s ass that stands to spread to other states.

Deep denial and a backward-facing economic vision can be found all over the old industrial north, in small towns and cities where a self-serving protectionistic conservatism tends to rack up votes for Democrats — but not always. Remember the corpulent white midwesterners Obama trotted out at his nomination to recite stories befitting a three decades old Springsteen lyric? They are the ones the Clintons exploited masterfully for their racism on the path to the 2008 Democratic nomination.[b] They’re among those Obama described as responding to decades-old job losses with bitterness, guns and religion as crutches, and “antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” It should be a bipartisan consensus that this mixture of resentment, nostalgia, and self-entitlement needs to be put to down once and for all, and not just because it spawns reactions aplenty to upset politicians on both sides of the aisle.

I don’t think public utilities and unions are intrinsically bad, and I enjoy the drama of swing states in elections. The problem with the old quasi-socialistic rustbelt ethos is that its worst aspects have thrived while the larger benefits — and the means to pay for them — have all but dropped dead.

Milwaukee is a good example of the problem. The County is close to failing under the weight of its debt obligations on employee benefit funds. The public school district, which has failed in every other way it possibly can fail, will soon fail financially, even without Walker and Associates defunding it. (His predecessor Jim Doyle was not generous with MPS either.) The police and firefighters, whom Governor Walker has promised not to touch, are a budgetary millstone dragging the City of Milwaukee to ruin.

For schools and police, Milwaukee residents and homeowners pay more for less, if not worse service and new scandals[c] every year. It is a problem austerity can’t solve. Even in good times, Milwaukeeans pay a premium to support mediocrity and failure. The police and schools reliably deliver bad results and resist accountability, transparency, and reform.

This is usually where the protestations of “it’s not our fault!” come in as a reason to keep paying failure forward. It’s well known what happened to the old “happy days” in so many cities like Milwaukee, but it is not quite the same story everywhere. Unlike Detroit, Milwaukee had a bad but not devastating population loss following civil rights struggles, race riots, and the loss of good-paying unskilled manufacturing jobs. Losing 100,000 people between 1960 and 1980 was no walk in the park, but the numbers have come back up since then. Unfortunately the costs have come up too, the jobs have not, and a “minority-majority” status does not connote the type of things today that Martin Luther King hoped it would, for the fourth poorest city in the nation.

Reasonably intelligent people care can’t put up with conditions like this for long without seeking escape in apathy or the bullhorns of partisan polemic. When people take those routes, the community suffers. Others simply leave.

What is uniquely depressing about Milwaukee’s decline is that it seems to be so self-inflicted and based in willfully untapped potential. One example of this stands out above all others, and it’s this: every major ethnic group here, but most of all white Milwaukeeans, have responded to the challenges of our times by staying out of school.

Truancy rates in Milwaukee are terrible, but that’s not what I’m referring to. A Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter (they  still have a few) looked at the new census data last year and discovered that a Milwaukee resident is far less likely to have finished a post-secondary degree than their counterparts in any of the nation’s fifty largest cities.

This statistic can’t be blamed on the usual suspects of race and poverty, even though race, poverty, and lack of educational attainment correlate very strongly. Far behind the average of black and Hispanic residents, white Milwaukee is a whopping fifteen percentage points behind its peers in contrast to the six point lag for African American residents. This education gap has set the city so far behind, it needs 36,000 people with college degrees just to become average.

Average seems to be an impossibly high goal because Milwaukee actually gains fewer than 1,000 degree holders each year despite having plenty of colleges and universities, including many that cater specifically to poor, older adult, and vocationally focused students. Apparently graduates leave the city at an even greater rate than is typical in a state afflicted with brain drain, probably because the jobs aren’t here, and with this type of mechanism in place, they never will be.

When families and businesses are thinking about moving to the metro area, education is a big reason why they opt for the suburbs or farther afield, and it is the most legitimate reason they have. It’s never nice to see the often snotty and prejudicial ways this choice can be expressed, but the true lack of quality schools, an educated workforce, and a culture of stimulating peers for the educated doesn’t offer much in the way of a meaningful retort. Maybe that’s a good thing, in light of Chrysler’s Superbowl ad, where a scowling Eminem in a luxury car stands up for derelict downtown Detroit. Silence is better than vain and empty thuggish posturing.

Given the anti-educational ethos of the “genuine American city” (as the previous mayor’s administration tried to brand it), Milwaukee appears not as a bunch of scrappy underdogs to cheer for, as we lift a glass to unions protecting jobs from China, India, or Kentucky. Rather, it looks like it’s far too full of underachievers who deserve a good kick in the ass from someone, anyone, in the absence of any indigenous leadership and fortitude.

As a city resident, it is heresy to say it, but Southeastern Wisconsin’s self-described “conservative” radio ranting (all toxicity, no solutions) is largely correct when it blames the area’s socialist legacy for today’s problems. Usually this is an unsubtle and unhelpful code for “blacks and liberals” and whatever conspiracy they’re supposed to have cooked up this week. The opposing viewpoint, put forward mainly by white liberals, offers a more nuanced but substantially similar explanation: poverty, bad schools, segregation, lack of jobs, and other problems that disproportionately affect the minority-majority population. In this view, the underprivileged can’t be expected to locate their socks in the morning, let alone secure a job, given the hardships. Intelligent, self-respecting people of color chafe under both descriptions, and if they are young and driven, they tend to leave the city faster than anyone else.

The metropolitan business community, to its credit, refers more circumspectly to Milwaukee’s “lack of an entrepreneurial culture,” which has the benefit of not taking an ideological position against “socialism” or identifying any group as especially affected or blameworthy. Others, in informal settings, bluntly describe Milwaukee as “anti-entrepreneurial,” make the connection with the socialist past, and mention unions. This too is fair. If local conservatives want to identify the anti-entrepreneurial spirit with a racial group and political ideology, they should acknowledge it’s white people with several generations of roots here. That’s who has been affected by the self-protectionism of union jobs enough to believe a high school education is good enough.

Because I am a true bastard (and not for all these other reasons), when I heard Governor Walker was going after the public service unions, I thought, “Good! I hope this gets extended to every last one of them, especially the cops.” [d]

Let’s think, too, of the public works employee I drank with one Sunday night at a favorite local dive bar. He had his arm in a sling from his last bender the previous week and was praising the benefits of his “socialized” healthcare.

Let’s think of the cops who can tell you, to a day, not just when their next vacation is but when they will retire and exactly what amount they have coming to them. I think of their disgust for the city residency that’s required of them, and how they will be peeling out when their last day comes. I think of one officer’s hatred for public transit and sense of pity for me as a bus rider with kids in a public school–one of the good ones just down the street. In his mind, he had done better for his kids, and he had paid more than we are likely to ever pay for their educations. The desire to move your kids up the food chain can be a good thing, but seeing it as being totally unserved and even opposed by the larger community and its public options is an indicator of some serious problems.

Let’s think of the teachers and other city and county workers who are much happier living in their neighborhoods than those cops, but they balk at the schools above the elementary grades because that is where good sense does say “time to get out.” They are often quite honest about how their union resists reform and throws better educators under the wheels of its seniority system when cuts have to be made. They excuse their complicity and shrug off responsibility in the usual way — it’s their job. Of all the things they have reasons to protest, it’s the threat to their union’s power that has them camping out in the capitol. For the children.

Let’s think about the not quite good, not quite bad neighborhoods with a good deal of people who owe their livelihood to public funding getting in the face of virtually any new development project as “gentrification.” Some have looked the other way, or even cheered, when new construction — built by people who live in the neighborhood — has been vandalized or burned.  Up a few rungs on the socioeconomic ladder, the same resentments flare toward locally-grown businesses that get “too big,” toward condos and “yuppies.”

Let’s think of the waves of perpetually adolescent people who are rebranded periodically as they generationally reject each other. Hippies, punks, hipsters, and other urban crackers. What they have in common is a love-hate relationship with crime, blight, and work/making money. (Someone got shot, but rents are low! Working sucks, but it pays for the beer!) I think of how this is why I can tell my kids pot is not a big deal as a drug — it’s really the people it tends to come with and definitely the time it kills that makes it unworthy of sustained interest.

These are not the most important vignettes and gripes I’ve accumulated, or even particularly striking ones. I could tell you a lot about how the truly poor descendants of deep south slaves and sharecroppers live, but what sticks in my craw is how those who have so much more just sit on their hands and guard what they’ve got.

I’m not saying there aren’t good, conscientious people and public servants here trying to do do their best — there are. There are also a lot of bums, mediocre workers, and periodically some outright crooks. They all co-exist in what is overall a failing, unsustainable mess. You can find plenty of boosters and apologists, but they are bound to be drawing down paychecks on the public dime if it’s not a lack of school age kids or a small enclave of affluence that blinds them to reality.

Under every administration, Wisconsin’s capitol and the rest of the state’s policy toward its biggest city has been to keep it disempowered as a taxing authority and shorted on school funding and shared revenue. Governor Walker is taking this “screw Milwaukee” game to a new level with his budget bill. At the same time, more funding will not fix the problems the city has, not even the financial ones. That is why I can’t muster any sympathy for the unions the governor is going after. Maybe kicking the legs out from under the last vestiges of old socialist Milwaukee will actually do it some good in the long run. Maybe even save the city from itself.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar The Dude February 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I get a tag of “Urban Blight?” Ugh!

I just wanted to add a link for more gritty context, that I just added to a comment on Russell’s piece, which I don’t really disagree with, in spirit:

avatar Lafferty February 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm

On the contrary, the reason there are not more self motivated, highly skilled, professional people working as teachers, cops or other public positions is because those people generally leave Milwaukee and find better paying and respected jobs in the private sector. It seems like most of this article was motivated by a crotchety vendetta against people getting a supposed free ride. I prefer the utilitarian approach : What can we do to fix an ailing education system? Rather than whining over who got the bigger cookie.

avatar The Dude February 28, 2011 at 4:46 am

It was probably not all that clear, but that is the point I wanted to make–education, ambition, and/or strong talent take people away to more robust private sector job markets. It would be nice to produce more of those people, but they will generally leave unless the culture is more favorable to them doing or finding what they go elsewhere to do or find.

Recommending solutions is a great thing to do, once you move past crotchety vendettas to a real grasp of specific problems you think you can address. I wasn’t trying to do that here.

“Crotchety vendetta” is a fair description, but it’s not aimed at anyone’s “free ride.” Just a sense of “me first,” a job as a right, and collective bargaining as an even bigger and completely unproblematic right when they are really privileges frequently abused. These attitudes, once hitched to the power of money and pressure in the political arena, skew priorities for the whole community.

avatar Nathan Will February 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

Meh…I’m just glad Dan make the trek over to the porch finally . Good to see his writing here.

avatar Marty March 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Dan, I am not sure what the anger is have with the police? I am a police officer and yes it is true, I know when my next vacation is(as do my private sector friends) and I know my retirement date. It is also true that I wont be able to “retire” on that date because I will have college tuition to pay and contrary to what you may write my pension wont be enough.

I know my date because I have missed so many holidays and Summers with my family. I have made some sacrifices and not complaining , I love my job and would not change what I get to do each day. It truly my vocation.

My kids go to the same school I attended as a child and I get to police very close to home. At times I do see that worst of the worst of things so, it is true I want to leave the city life to live in places that I only read about on Front Porch Republic. I want to move to to a small town with place, limits and liberty.

When you hear a cop yearn for leaving the city it’s because he craves what is discussed on these pages.

I too agree that we need to have pension reform but as localists we need to understand that each state and city is different. My pension fund is doing very well because cops here live an average of seven years after retirement. We are doing so well that we gave the city money in exchange for them making Billions in interest on my/our money we received more in our pension. Now that pension return on investment, is called a bonus.

Please don’t accuse most cops as feeling as you describe. You and many writers deal with one or two cops and think that a force of 5,000 or in my case 35,000 feel the way the transit cop did.

I live in my city, I pay taxes and contribute to my pension. I of all people want reform because I want my money here when I retire.

avatar Zac March 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I might as well weigh in from the fine city of Madison. There are a number of reasons I find myself on the side of the protesters rather than Walker, and none of them have to do with support of public employee unions.

For one thing, Walker’s budget cuts are nothing if not egregiously selective: he’s exempted some of the costliest public employees solely for political self-preservation. This selectivity, coupled with his unwillingness to negotiate with public employees unopposed to cutbacks shows that Walker’s motivations are more partisan than practical: his primary targets are unions that typically give to democratic candidates, but conveniently not those that opposed his own election. Were his loyalties with budget cuts and not suppression of political enemies, we might have gained some ground.

Walker is no decentralist, no localist: his decision to give $117 million in tax-cuts to Wisconsin multinationals shows that his allegiances are large, not small in scale. The proposed budget would prohibit local governments from setting their own property tax rates, subverting the power of local communities to self-determine – a rather patronizing attempt to move power to the appropriate places. This should give any Front Porch defenders of Walker pause.

From this little ponzi scheme for the rich we learn that corporate interests are allowed a little belt loosening, but working families who happen to be employed by the state should suck it up and pull taut. The financial burden of our Governor’s hard-on for big business will be placed on the backs teachers and firemen. When Gov shuts a door on the middle class, he opens a window: non-Wisconsin interests like the Koch brothers are encouraged to enter through the back.

If a teacher is unable to negotiate benefits in Wisconsin, perhaps she’ll move to a state that will give her better. (I would say good riddance, let her go, but shrinking the teacher pool is no good for my kids.) The UW, for all its faults, does an excellent job of keeping young adults in Wisconsin, and keeping the UW academically competitive depends on attracting top brass to the state.

Lastly, let us not forget that union power may be a drain on the budget, but the state still has to pay teachers, nurses, cops, firefighters and prison employees, and no elimination of collective bargaining is going to change that. There are a great many ways to save taxpayer money, why doesn’t Walker fry some bigger fish? Because he likes the big fish. Why not privatize Wisconsin highways, implement a pay-as-you-drive system as in Illinois and Indiana, and shift transportation costs to those who are actually proud to be mobile? Or perhaps we could consider axing the utterly ineffective war on drugs, which clots our prisons and legal system, destroys our communities by keeping black-market thugs in business, and costs us far more to maintain than cutting bargaining rights would save.

In the end, this seems like more political quibbling and partisanship than practical budget cutting, and that’s the reason my Nader-voting, Ron Paul-loving neighbors and I would rather be out in front of the capitol with home-made signs, signing petitions against Citizen’s United and the voter ID act than sitting inside watching Koch-sponsored ads on tv telling us how a seven-year-old fireman’s daughter with a sign that says ‘raised on union labor’ is a freeloader.

avatar Siarlys Jenkins March 9, 2011 at 9:21 pm

And a cheerful heaping dose of Newton’s Third Law to you! Don’t let the door hit YOU on the ass on your way out!

If you’ve lived in Milwaukee lately, you ought to know that Scott Walker’s “emergency” legislative session is related to unions in direct proportion to the square of the distance an observer stands outside the state. (The farther away you are, the more it looks like its about unions). Unlike the rest of the country, I’ve watched him up close for eight years. He’s an overgrown spoiled brat and a snake oil salesman, a noxious stench in the nostrils of my sainted conservative Republican mother, whose grandfather, a United Mine Workers of American organizer in Pennsylvania, was also a Republican.

The budgets for Milwaukee County that he’s prepared, during his years as county executive, earned him the nickname “fiscal phantom.” He always plans on nonexistent revenue, defers essential maintenance, assumes massive wage cuts that aren’t going to happen, then claims he’s “balanced the budget, without increasing the property tax levy.” The county board has to do the heavy work of making it balance for real, doing all the heavy lifting. If Walker maintained his house like his maintained the county, his neighbors would be calling in the inspectors because his one-house slum was driving down their property values.

Your moralism about wasteful use of resources is touching. Fighting Bob has been gone a little too long to be blamed for current problems. AT THE TIME, the capitalists were taking it all, and were being asked rather insistently to share a bit. Now, they are taking it all again, after reducing waste to the point they don’t need people much anymore. Whatever there is to spend, we need MORE union activity in the private sector, not less in the public sector. In fact, the last socialist mayor left office in 1960, and Frank Zeidler’s fondest memory is that he built the first freeways, not that he had anything to do with good paying jobs. Industrial employers are BEGGING for skilled tool and die makers, and other trades, but nobody is available, because after the mass layoffs of the 1980s, such jobs were just not on the radar screen for the next couple of generations to train for. A little German or Japanese prudence, even a little socialism, might have saved them from such short-sighted foolishness.

Yes, Gov. Walker is taking the “screw Milwaukee” game to a new level. For the last eight years, the county supervisors have been living up to their name, by SUPERVISING the s.o.b. closely, and thank God they came up with a 2/3 majority 76 percent of the time! Now he’s feeling his oats, he can do whatever he wants for the next two years, barring three Republican seats flip in the wave of recalls on the horizon. It takes real work to get elected with 52 percent of the vote, and then have a 57 percent DISapproval rating two months after taking office. That picture you posted is worth a thousand columns.

Among other things, he and Gov. Doyle were hand in glove sabotaging a very sensible proposal, put on the ballot by grass roots effort and approved by a majority of voters, to take the ailing county bus system off the property tax levy, and sustain it with dedicated sales tax funding. If it had passed, last time I spent $100 on a necklace for my neice (an extravagance I seldom indulge in), it would have cost me – gasp! – and extra FIFTY CENTS, but the bus system would have had 50% MORE money, and the average homeowner would have gotten a $135 per year reduction in their tax bill. Walker doesn’t want solutions, he wants excuses to slash and burn.

Incidentally, Milwaukee does remain the most racially polarized city I’ve seen anywhere, but the “black” population is only about 28%, and our rep in congress, Gwen Moore, won a 3-way Democratic primary in 2004 with 64% of the vote. She carried 2/3 of Milwaukee’s wards, and came in second in many of the rest. I still have a ward by ward breakdown. The shot shot young politicos talked about a “big turn out in the black wards” and a sliver of the “white progressive vote.” I told them they were out of their minds – she was going to carry Bayview, and she did. She knew it too. She said “I don’t see a racial divide in this election – everyone is voting for me.” There are two state senators of African descent among the Milwaukee 14.

Now, if you want to bring in a new paradigm where humanity has a sustainable relationship to the land, everyone recognizes there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, we break our dependence on burning oil and coal, and all that good stuff, remember, Scott Walker is owned by the concrete industry, and favors burning all the coal he can haul into the state, the more sulphur the better. Now, figure out how to sell every household in what passes for a ghetto on the virtues of installing photovoltaic cells and recycling, and we’ll have a show on the road. I’ll give you a hint: Workers spend more time reading and less time getting high when there is a strong union movement. The Western Federation of Miners kept libraries of classic novels in every cabin in the Rockies. The IWW members carried Dickens in their pockets when riding the rails. What brought the union movement down is television, which occupies all the hours the whole family used to spend down at the union hall.

avatar Dan January 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

@Marty I think you prove the point I was only casually hinting at in the article. It’s great if your municipal and union leaders have remained fairly responsible and cooperative. Yet you reveal you do not see your city neighborhood as a place you can really settle in, believe in, love, and commit to for generations. Instead you’re fundamentally invested in an extractive, other-people’s-money-funded machine whose main task is prosecuting an unwinnable and racist “drug war” (or going through the motions) until you feel you’ve done your time and can leave. Your hope that this vocation will finance a future “escape” can only, over time, increasingly eclipse your commitment to your job and the public, to the hassle, dirt and danger of the job. Dealing with the most degraded and disagreeable people our society has pernicious effects on otherwise healthy and sane people. I hope you escape the corrosive anger, cynicism, hate, and abuse to this “livelihood” often entails. I don’t say this to suggest that it’s necessarily a morally superior choice to fully commit yourself and your family to your city; it could be, but it could also be a big mistake, if your belief is correct, that place, liberty and limits are not viable there. My conclusion was that this sadly is the correct conclusion for middle class families in Milwaukee. There is a tragic chicken-egg dilemma behind this assessment, because it is not based on simply avoiding cost and risk. It is based on an assessment of the leadership, the municipal rank and file, and the resident population to face the costs and risks and to say “we want to fight this war, here is how we can do it together.” Once the public servants are defined by the timer-servers and their subordinates are on their pension countdowns, trying to live on in real commitment and care is like the privates fighting a battle the officers and NCOs have already turned from.

@Zac & Siarlys I don’t disagree with anything either of you wrote, but I reject the romanticization of unions in general and the treatment of a specific city’s case with grandiose principles plus the different situation and experience of a very different city. Madison does not have the structural financial, social, and housing problems Milwaukee does, and they are not configured as poisonously in Madison. Madison is like a European city that keeps its underclass and minority elements far from its central areas which are well-fortified centers of privilege and access to a global economy. In this picture there are many reasons for taxpaying, voting residents to see the unions as relatively cooperative and afforable public assets. In contrast, Milwaukee has the classic rustbelt, Detroit-style donut (or half-donut because of the lake) where a residency requirement for public service unions is thought by paranoid leaders and most of the white population to be the last defense and only plan they have) against the spread of the inner city by providing a working-class wall of cops and firefighters between the ghettos and the affluent. Worse, the economic assets and access points — the good jobs and employers — are more limited and geographically dispersed than I would guess they are in Madison, so the poor are kept far from the jobs. In effect urban elites in the Milwaukee area are allied with the suburban middle class agenda of maintaining barricades, and Madison policy has always been a part of this tool. In this context Milwaukee unions act as pawns to their masters and parasites to city taxpayers. They hurt the middle class and long term sustainability of the city more than they help it.

Milwaukee also lacks a real player in the military-industrial-research complex (as UW-Madison is), but UW-Milwaukee keeps trying to reach this goal which the city leadership generally supports in the hope it will counteract the donut problem, the exodus of middle class population and economically mobile people from the city. Walker’s efforts to quash this growth are notably *not* present in Madison and statewide residents grievances. Tragically, at least in the short term, UWM’s growth has meant the destruction of middle-class East Side neighborhoods with crime, blight, dropping values, slumlords, and college students of the Penn State variety where “the right to party” eclipses everything else. Madison can afford #1 party school status; Milwaukee gets really hurt by it. State Street has accepted the annual riots and mayhem; imagine this happening in a residential neighborhood in Madison like the Wingra Park area. That is Milwaukee’s east side/UWM campus area situation. So basically there are pro-growth forces that squash the middle class as well as crime, parasites, and growth-impediments that also do this. It’s not an issue of “unions are bad” but how they operate in a particular context in conert with other forces and actors.

I was recognizing in my article that Walker is simply the chicken that has come home to roost for the whole state from the dysfunction that is Milwaukee. To a good extent the state has earned this, since Madison’s policy under Democratic and Republican rule has been uniformly driven by crypto white supremacist agendas: Screw Milwaukee with its poor and non-white urban masses by denying equitable funding for schools and government as well as political autonomy to address the problems this causes. This results in the cynical, time-serving treachery of the union rank and file who follow their bosses in playing devil-take-the-hindmost while also being far more openly racist. This describes a city circling the drain. Any disruption to such a nihilistic status quo holds at last more hope in change than staying the course on a decades old path of proven failure. The hope is not in Walker or the Kochs but common people of spirit who might finally emerge to lead rather than following partisan hacks and union lemmings who serve the highest bidders.

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