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Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and the New Wave of Anti-Urban Politics

12:34 PM PDT on May 29, 2012

There's a long history of anti-urban propaganda in American politics. Here are a few classics of the genre: "Transit's a waste of money that needs a subsidy." (Nevermind that urban residents subsidize country roads.) Any reference to "elites" or, somewhat paradoxically, any mention of welfare would also achieve the desired result (as if rural areas were not collecting these funds). The name of the game is to cast city dwellers either as parasitic government dependents, invoking racial stereotypes, or as snooty liberals, whose tastes and values are suspicious and un-American.

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Cue Mitt Romney announcing that if he's elected, he'll get rid of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (It has the word urban in it, for Pete's sake.) The position seems like an outgrowth of Tea Party raving about Agenda 21 forcing Americans into "tenement housing" and taking away their cars.

Perhaps no American elected official exemplifies this divisive brand of politics more than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin is a really interesting case because of how its two major cities are perceived. Walker has made a frequent target of Madison, the progressive college town and state capital, which neatly stands in for out-of-touch liberals. Then you have Milwaukee, one of the most racially segregated metro areas in the country, its social ills compounded by poverty brought on by deindustrialization, playing the role of parasite.

James Rowen at Network blog The Political Environment points out that Walker has made a career of antagonizing these cities:

It's worth noting that Walker, from the beginning, implemented an anti-urban strategy:

* Kill the Amtrak line, and the benefits that would have accrued to Milwaukee and Madison, since CityFail fits the Walker/far-right narrative best.

* Strangle urban transit, too. Hey, suck it up and walk.

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