StellaRay posted a good diary yesterday: A tale of two governors: so similar and so different, looking at Christie vs. Walker. And just a day later, the story of Walker his criminal, hateful, petty, racist, sexist, crass cronies and sycophants has faded from the national radar screen (see puddytat's Wisconsin Media Starts Riding to Scott Walkers Rescue). That is life in Wisconsin, away from the national and coastal media, and in the clutches of the reactionaries' media machinery.
StellaRay stated in one of her comments:
I just don't understand what's happened to the state I grew up in, once a leader in progressive governance through Robert La Follette. And the word "progressive" here is not another word for liberal. It's a word in this context that used to mean transparency, fairness, and accountability.So I attempted to answer the question: What happened to Wisconsin? (Or as Thomas Frank might have put it: "What's the Matter with Wisconsin?"). Slightly embellished:
1. White flight out of Milwaukee turned the collar counties into sprawling enclaves of wealthy, white, conservatives. The city floundered, and the suburban money didn't care.I was encouraged to cut and paste and post my comment to stimulate discussion. May it do so, because we really need to talk. Scott Walker really, really wants to be your president, and the big money really wants him to be your president, too.
2. The Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee both fed and fed on this demographic/geographic shift and became one of the major forces in national, reactionary, neo-conservative politics. Especially riding the school voucher issue.
3. The media in Milwaukee -- newspapers and hard right radio -- fed the anti-urban, anti-liberal, and, yes, anti-black attitudes of their suburban white audience.
4. The Democratic Party establishment has long been completely clueless about how to respond, caring only about how to get to 51% in Madison and Milwaukee, and ignoring small town and rural Wisconsin in elections. It's infuriating. The Democrats have no plan for rural Wisconsin.
5. Connected to this: the Democratic Party stopped running people in local races outside Milwaukee and Madison. No farm team now, no major leaguers in the future.
5. Smart progressive young people have left the state. In earlier generations they stayed and lived in the smaller cities and towns and rural areas. For a generation or two now, they have gone to Chicago or the Twin Cities or out west. They left behind their more conservative family members and schoolmates.
6. Agriculture changed, and rural Wisconsin's economy and culture changed with it: fewer farmers, fewer family farms, bigger farms, more corporate ownership. All of that translates into a different local political culture. Rural progressives diminished. (Except, thank goodness, they have held on in the SW Wisconsin driftless area.)
I could go on....