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UWM Professors Explore Socialism In Milwaukee

Lauren Sigfusson

Although he has suspended his campaign for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders will be remembered as a disruptor in this year’s race for the White House. Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist, a title that has not escaped President Trump’s attention who describes socialism as a “destroyer of societies.” The focus on socialism is timely because when the Democratic National Party holds its convention in Milwaukee, the eyes of the world will be on a city that once was considered the most socialist city in the United States.

In the early 1900s, Milwaukee elected the first socialist to serve as a member of Congress. Three of Milwaukee’s mayors were socialists, including Daniel Hoan, who spent 24 years in City Hall. The iconic Hoan Bridge over Milwaukee’s Harbor bears his name. In recent years, you don’t find many politicians here describing themselves as socialists, but the legacy of that era is visible throughout the area. 

On this edition of UWM Today, we take a closer look at socialism in Milwaukee. Our guests are Aims McGuinness, associate professor of history, and Joel Rast, associate professor of political science and director of Urban Studies at UWM.

Tom Luljak hosted UWM Today on WUWM for more than two decades and is the inaugural host of Curious Campus.