If you go to enough conservative events, eventually you\’re going to hear the \”S\” word bandied about. Inevitably, someone will warn of the impending doom if the \”socialist\” Democrats take over. While I\’m certainly sympathetic to the cause, I generally to bristle at these attempts to tie modern Democrats to the murderous regimes of Lenin and Stalin. Nancy Pelosi\’s reconstructed visage may break my HDTV, but I\’m guessing she\’s not going to steal and murder my children.
In any event, if any state has a history of being friendly to socialism, it is Wisconsin. Milwaukee famously elected three Socialist mayors in the first half of the 20th Century – a feat unique to large American cities. The State Senate and Assembly often housed members of the Socialist Party in the \’20s and \’30s – in some years, there were more Socialists than Democrats. Yet while they were socialist in name, rarely did they govern as Socialists in practice. (Much of this is detailed in Robert Booth Fowler\’s excellent new book \”Wisconsin Votes.\”)
It\’s even more interesting when one examines the modern Democratic agenda and its roots within the Socialist movement of the early 1900\’s. For instance, look at many of the current Democratic talking points: We have to tax excessive oil profits. We have to tax hospital profits. Insurance companies are charging us too much, so we should have government take over health care and tax business to pay for it.
If these sound familiar, it\’s because these attempts to \”tax the profiteers\” have been around for the entirety of Wisconsin\’s history. And predominantly from the Socialist Party.
Check out this campaign flier from Socialist Party candidate for U.S. Senate Candidate Victor L. Berger, in which he vows to \”Tax the Profiteers.\” (Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society\’s Online Collection)
Again, this doesn\’t mean modern Democrats and the vile European Socialist Regimes are married to one another. But at the very least, they are pen pals.
SIDE NOTE: Berger, who was one of the founding members of the Socialist Party in Wisconsin, had a phenomenal public career. From his Historical Society biography:
Berger was elected the first Socialist member of Congress and served from 1911 to 1913. He was reelected in 1918 and 1919. Congress excluded his seat on grounds of sedition, a charge for which he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision in 1921. He was allowed to take his seat when reelected in 1922.