As usual, Milwaukee’s black folks are doing all of the work. Kind of like across the lake in Flint and now Detroit Public Schools, where they put up black “emergency managers” who would do the bidding of the white Republican establishment (but only in cities where the population is mostly black—natch). Here in Milwaukee, Republican front groups like “Citizens for Urban Justice” (established by white Republican men the week before the 2014 election!) and “Milwaukeeans for Self-Governance” (established in the last few weeks) have figured out that they can prey on the leadership dreams of a whole bunch of people who think they’re being groomed for a future role in the community. What they really do is drive a further wedge between qualified black candidates and nuts like Sheriff Clarke (you don’t think he keeps getting elected with grassroots support, do you?). It’s really pretty clever, because when these white Republican groups write the checks Milwaukee stops focusing on finding more qualified candidates. Plus, it’s cheap, because the goal isn’t to win. These rich white guys never get their hands dirty, and by putting “activists” like attention-seeking Tory Lowe on the ticket you can pretend you are all about “urban culture, urban issues and criminal justice”, as their phony front on Facebook states.
Maybe you have been hearing the ads on the radio, financed by white Republican Craig Peterson? They feature former alderman Michael McGee, Jr. saying that people in Milwaukee are desperate for a better economic situation. Too true. Will voting for Alderman Joe Davis— can anybody you know name anything he’s done, besides watch Midtown Mall deteriorate on his watch—turn things around? Not finding a better candidate was 100% intentional. This should have been an easy “get”, because few people can look at Barrett and think the city’s made much progress lately. The white Davis-backers know this. By propping up his futile effort, instead of helping find a viable candidate to run hard against Barrett, their small political donations to Davis can take attention from the fact that as long as Milwaukee is segregated, poor, and dedicated to constant infighting, they will overlook the 100 bills passed in Madison that take away local control. Nobody’s had more of their power taken away than Milwaukee.
What’s even worse than the fake concern about “urban culture”, whatever the hell that is, is that Peterson’s own Facebook page is using the early results of Mr. McGee’s hard work to prove that voter ID doesn’t suppress the vote. Mr. McGee and his dedicated supporters are being used by people who would gladly remove ALL of their voting rights, if they could. The folks writing the checks are well on their way to doing just that.
The group financed by Peterson and his wealthy white friends may call themselves “Milwaukeeans for Self-Governance”, but they in no way actually support Milwaukeeans governing themselves. This should be obvious when you consider how much power Republicans—sometimes with help from people like Chris Abele-- have taken from city residents in the last five years. The end game here is to distract people enough to keep the people really dedicated to improving Milwaukee from running candidates—especially candidates of color—who have a chance at winning. The perfect Milwaukee governance structure would look like the people of Milwaukee, and Milwaukee deserves people who show up, do their work capably, and govern by and for the people.
Reports suggest that turnout for early voting is surpassing past years, especially for winter elections. The credit for the actual work goes to former alderman Mike McGee, Jr. While McGee was at City Hall yesterday encouraging the early voters, the people Peterson and friends truly support were in Madison outlawing community voter registration drives (passed along party lines last night). The question remains: Why muddy the waters with dirty money from a party that is all about suppressing the black vote? Why team up with the likes of Peterson, a Clarke apologist who is using McGee’s great early voting work to “prove” that voter ID laws don’t suppress the black vote? It’s pretty ingenious, actually: prop up people the community trusts, hand pick and finance candidates who can’t win, and try to sink successful campaigns from the safety of your armchair, your fat wallet in hand. Not everybody is fooled. You shouldn’t be, either.