With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Irony Alert: GOP Stages Anti-Socialist Show Vote while Preparing to Convene in the Most Socialist City in America

The Republican resolution decrying “the horrors of socialism,” which the US House approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority last week, formally asserted that “Congress denounces socialism in all its forms, and opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America.”

For all its ominous language, however, the resolution was nothing more than a political ploy. It was a legislative stunt, designed to force Democrats to vote against an ideology that is well-regarded by millions of grassroots Democrats and independent voters—and around 15 percent of Republicans, according to recent polling. A lot of House Democrats fell into the trap. The majority of the Democratic caucus, 109 to be precise, joined the whole of the Republican caucus in backing the measure, which passed with 328 votes. “Yes” votes came from the new House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, his deputies Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar, and his predecessor, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi

Just 86 Democrats voted “no,” while 14 more voted “present.”

Republicans celebrated the vote as a political win. But it was a “victory” cloaked in immense irony, as will become evident next year.

The 2024 Republican National Convention is to be held in Milwaukee, the Wisconsin city that for much of the 20th century was governed by three of the most high-profile Socialist Party mayors in American history. When Democrats decided to hold their 2020 national convention in Wisconsin’s largest city, Mark Jefferson, the executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, observed, “It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee. No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee.”

True enough. And Milwaukee was a Socialist Party success story. The city’s Socialist mayors were such able managers that Milwaukee was frequently recognized by scholars of municipal governance as one of the best-run metropolitan centers in the United States—even earning praise from the business journal Fortune. Leaders of both major parties recognized the accomplishments of the Milwaukee Socialists, to such an extent that in the 1930s a Republican governor of Wisconsin made a Milwaukee Socialist his executive secretary, while Socialist Mayor Daniel Webster Hoan was featured on the cover of Time magazine and hailed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Milwaukeeans don’t appear to be troubled by associations with the “S” word, as so many House Democrats clearly are. The city celebrates its Socialist heritage, both physically and politically. An epic span that runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline is named the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge, and just last fall the city’s voters sent two democratic socialists to the Wisconsin legislature.

When the House denounced “the horrors of socialism,” those legislators made the case that socialism was—and is—a part of what makes Milwaukee great.

Read entire article at The Nation