A piece in the Economist notes that the cradle of progressivism in Wisconsin, is backing Sanders, ““WE HAVE a history of progressive politics,” says a voter in Wisconsin’s primary elections. He is leaving the Frank Zeidler municipal building, named after Milwaukee’s three-term Socialist mayor, who stepped down in 1960. The voter, an employee at the state Department of Transport, opted for Bernie Sanders, whose environmental policies he especially likes. Even if Mr Sanders does not become the nominee, he argues, his ideas will have gained prominence. Next time round an even stronger candidate espousing his ideas could win. Almost everyone leaving the Zeidler building on a chilly April 5th had voted for Mr Sanders, who went on to win the primary with 56.5% of the vote compared with 43.1% for Hillary Clinton. “This is one of the most Democratic wards in a very Democratic city,” said Katie Parch, who also voted for the senator from Vermont”.
The report goes on to mention “Surrounded by staunchly Republican suburbs, Milwaukee was the cradle of the American socialist movement. Founded by mostly German immigrants, this was sometimes referred to as “sewer socialism” because of its proponents’ habit of boasting about the city’s excellent sewer system and their fixation with cleaning up political life. In the early 20th century, socialists competed in the city with progressives. Robert La Follette carried Wisconsin for the Progressive Party when he ran for president in 1924, on a Sanders-ish platform of pacifism and trustbusting. To many Wisconsin progressives, especially students, Mr Sanders seems to be the rightful heir of this legacy. He denounces inequality, wants free public college education and free health insurance for all, promises to introduce a $15 minimum wage nationwide and to spend $1 trillion on the country’s crumbling infrastructure”.
Correctly the piece adds that “The self-proclaimed democratic socialist never bothers much to explain how he would pay for his promises. But this did not seem to matter to many of his fans, who came out in force for a rally on an evening when the opening game of the local baseball team, a Donald Trump pageant at the nearby Milwaukee Theatre and the Tripoli Shine Circus competed for attention. Does Mr Sanders still have a chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination? He has triumphed in six of the past seven primaries and caucuses and raised $15m more than Mrs Clinton in March. Yet she leads with 1,748 delegates (out of 2,383 needed) compared with 1,058 for Mr Sanders. Punters on Predictwise, a prediction market, give Mrs Clinton an 89% chance of clinching the nomination. To catch up, Mr Sanders would need to win big in the New York primary on April 19th”.
The piece ends “Even if he loses those contests, Mr Sanders vows to campaign all the way to the convention. That leaves Mrs Clinton grappling with a much stronger and better-funded rival than she anticipated. And to the delight of many Milwaukeeans, it increases the chances of social-democratic ideas taking root in a country notoriously hostile to them”.