Milwaukee’s suburban counties were always Republican. They’ve voted Republican for president in every election but one (1964) since World War II. But white flight made them more so. The whites who left Milwaukee County for the outer suburbs were more conservative, and often better off economically, than the people who stayed behind.
“On average, Republican movers have more money,” says political scientist James Gimpel of the University of Maryland, who has tracked the migration patterns of both Democrats and Republicans. “That means a broader array of neighborhoods is available to them.”
Some of those movers brought with them negative perceptions of the city and its dominant political party. In metro areas with concentrated urban poverty and crime, racial polarization is high. “The white voters that surround those areas are incredibly radicalized,” says GOP pollster Gene Ulm, who is based in northern Virginia but has polled in Wisconsin for many years.
“There is a huge correlation there,” says Mandela Barnes, a first-term Democratic state lawmaker whose district includes half of Glendale and a set of mostly African-American neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Barnes says that concentration of poverty in Milwaukee feeds “this perception (outside Milwaukee) that there’s a ‘culture of takers.’ And that can become political fodder.”
Right. The concentration of poverty feeds the perception that all poor black people in the city just leech off the taxpayers. The poverty does that. The poor African-Americans, by existing, become “political fodder.” All by themselves. They just become.
This entire story is great, very depressing, and entirely premised on the idea that political, racial and economic polarization have just spontaneously happened. Nobody created them, nobody pushed them, nobody profited from them. Whites fled and started hating blacks. Poverty created this perception of “takers.” It’s as if it all happened by magic.
It leaves the reader with the impression that nothing’s to be done. That you hate who you hate. That you love who you love. That this is all just tragic and implacable and will never change. And you know what? It won’t, so long as we refuse to acknowledge that rich men get richer when we hate and fear, and ideas come from somewhere, and the people who sell this crap are just as newsworthy as the poor schmucks who buy it.