Local historian John Gurda is slated to give the second annual Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture tonight on Milwaukee’s Socialist legacy. But he spoke with the Shepherd last week about his thoughts on how the Socialists saved Milwaukee. Here are some of his observations:
Shepherd: What was going on in Milwaukee when the Socialists emerged?
Gurda: They began to run candidates for office in 1898. That was the first year that David Rose was in office [as mayor]. Milwaukee was thoroughly corrupt. It was as bad as Chicago on a bad day. Everything was for sale, which was not atypical. That was the pattern in American politics back in what was called the Gilded Age. Milwaukee was also very heavily industrialized. This was a working-class town. More than half of the male working population would have been engaged in manufacturing of some sort. It was a visibly dirtier city than it is today with coal smoke and just incredible pollution in the rivers. It was also very compact and congested. When you look at the older part of town today there are a lot of open spaces, there has been renewal or removal of some kind. That was not true then. It was cheek by jowl.
If Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wins 5% of the popular vote in the 2016 election, the party will be eligible for millions of dollars in federal matching funds for a 2020 presidential campaign. The Green Party has strategically justified every fringe/spoiler presidential campaigns it has run since 1996 in part by talking up the possibility of winning 5% of the popular vote. What the Green Party has never done is develop a hard-headed assessment of whether it is even possible for their candidates to reach the 5% threshold despite failing to do so five presidential cycles in a row.
Part 1 of this piece dealt with whether or not pro-Sanders and Sanders-skeptics could work towards common ends despite our differences.
What happens to the Sanders campaign after the nomination fight is over has yet to be determined; its future is to a large extent what campaigners make of it since the official campaign’s three offices (one in Burlington, Iowa, and New Hampshire) can hardly control 100,000 volunteers in 3,500 groups in all but 12 of the country’s 435 Congressional districts.
If Sanders loses to Clinton, his campaign faces three basic evolutionary possibilities: Continue reading →
This is Chapter 1 of Building Progressive Politics: The Vermont Story, a 1993 pamphlet by Marxist Terry Bouricius, that chronicles how the only successful left third party in the U.S. today was built over the course of three decades. The remaining chapters will be published on this blog in the coming days.
Having a “third party,” or more than two parties, has been the norm rather than the exception in Vermont’s history. Some of these parties have been national in scope and some have been Vermont grown. Some of the national “third parties,” which I shall refer to as alternative parties from here on, did especially well in Vermont. Many of these parties could be described as single-issue parties. Continue reading →