For over a year, labor leaders and progressive bloggers (like me) in Wisconsin have been sounding the alarm about Scott Walker and his fellow Teapublicans ramming through Right to Exploit Workers - also known as Right to Work - and other policies of a plantation economic agenda.
We talked about how this plantation economic agenda stemmed from the Deep South and were based on a racist agenda.
In March of this year, an article by Roger Bybee restated these facts. Bybee, who used the term "Southern Strategies," points out five signs that Walker is using these same policies in a more subtle manner to get the same results.
The five points that Bybee outlines are:
- Anti-union laws like the Wage Theft Law are rooted in racism
- The Wage Theft Law fits in with Walker's other racialized politics
- Walker used Milwaukee - and its high black/brown majority - his fall guy
- Walker restoring Jim Crow laws in the form of voter suppression and gerrymandering
- Walker's long history of race-baiting
While the whole article is well worth the read, Bybee sums it all up very nicely:
But Walker’s turn to “dog-whistle“ politics, or the manipulation of whites’ racial resentments, is as noteworthy as it is notorious. It begins with an agenda that is hostile to government programs benefitting the poor and big government programs of any kind—except for those providing subsidies to corporations and the rich. However, there is a not-so-subtle subtext of pro-white racism.
There are many dots that connect this ugly picture: Walker’s war against labor and support for “right-to-work” laws despite their racist legacy and present-day impacts; his willingness to use Willie Horton-style ads which stoke white fears of blacks; his support for restricting the right of blacks and Latinos; his institutional ties to long-standing institution like the Bradley which are tacitly approving of white supremacy; his links to media personalities who thrive on feeding racism; and his policies punishing urban citizens, especially people of color.
Essentially, Walker embodies the lessons outlined by the late Lee Atwater, the ruthless Republican strategist. In a remarkably frank interview, Atwater once described the evolution of conservative politics and the “Southern strategy”: “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say nigger—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites… .’We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘nigger, nigger.’”
Walker, in governing Wisconsin and running for president, is showing himself to be a consummate practitioner of the Southern strategy long advocated by Atwater and warned about by the liberal Thomas Edsall. The overt racism is scrapped on the surface, but the core of the ever-congenial Walker’s policies is profoundly hostile to people of color and to social justice.
I would only add that if the gentle reader had any doubts about Walker's inherent racism one does not have to look hard or long to find more examples
As Milwaukee County Executive, he treated the county's parks with obvious disparity, favoring the parks in the white and more affluent areas. As governor, it became even more apparent with his cuts to social safety nets such as BadgerCare and food stamps.
The results make things even more obvious, with such shameful things as Wisconsin having the highest incarceration rates for black men and Milwaukee being the most racially segregated area in the nation.
And don't even get me going on the racism that runs rampant with both Walker's campaign and government staff.