In light of Gov. Scott Walker's emerging victorious from the recall election Tuesday, you might expect that I would write a scathing indictment of our electorate or at least a post with lots of hand-wringing. You will receive both. However, you will also receive a scathing indictment of the Democratic Party, or at least all parts of it beneath the Executive Branch. Please bear in mind that my assessment of the present climate reflects fairly little of my own beliefs and wishes, but rather attempts to be a sober, yet imaginative depiction.
The marketplace has become attuned to the fact that white people--most particularly those around the middle of the socioeconomic scale--are differentiating themselves now more than at any time in over a generation. The Great Society has, in my estimation, failed utterly. As soon as white people had sufficient mobility and prosperity, they escaped the city. Indeed, we now see the odd spectacle of rings of suburbia marked by vacant storefronts as development moves further and further out (the Northwest suburb of Menomonee Falls is an example of this).
To those who have escaped, the personal automobile--holding, at most, the immediate family--is the key to their freedom from the city. The ability to drive door to door and enjoy ample parking is a basic quality-of-life expectation. It won't be much impaired by rising gas prices or environmental consequences. Possible translation: we'll keep gutting education until the vocabulary of the average 21-year-old is reduced to three words from its current 64, so long as we can keep paying for cars, fuel and highways. Global warming? There could be balls of fire raining down from the sky before Mr. or Mrs. Mequon would hand over the keys to the SUV.
Except for its sports facilities and airport, Mr. and Mrs. Waukesha County may well see Milwaukee as little more than a place to dump their loud, foul-mouthed, binge-drinking offspring between the ages of 18 and 25, or perhaps go on the Lakefront Brewery tour. If this were Madison, that could be turned into a nice profit center to fund a great quality of life for more permanent residents. The dilemma here is the abyss of intractable poverty in the central city, and the layers upon layers of profiteering and waste that surround it. No real strategy or seriousness of intent ever seems to be demonstrated in attacking this problem, and I wonder if that isn't because inner city chaos provides the centrifugal force that is so profitable for so many.
While civic leaders that cater to the region's majority populace ponder such absurdities as a new, glittering sports palace for Downtown, they ought to be pointing out what long commutes and parental absence are doing to middle-class families. There's no reason that holds water for allowing the problem of central city poverty and crime to get as outrageous as it has. Build some badly needed highways to split up the central city into manageable sectors, then police the hell out of them. Promote strategic gentrification to further this end (considering where I live, I'm fairly sure some fumbling attempts are already being made). For better or worse, those who have no assets and draw government benefits to live are dependent on whatever the government decrees--and that's by no means limited to minorities. Right now, it decrees the status quo for the central city. It doesn't decree measurable benchmarks for improvement, but instead pours a seemingly bottomless cup of redistributed wealth.
Too often, the Democratic establishment doesn't credit the electorate with enough intelligence to see through this. I'm quite sure those in neighboring counties, and indeed much of our county, have had enough. Where are the bold, alpha male Democratic leaders?