The ‘Real’ Residents

Emily Badger reports Are Rural Voters the ‘Real’ Voters? Wisconsin Republicans Seem to Think So:

In much of Wisconsin, “Madison and Milwaukee” are code words (to some, dog whistles) for the parts of the state that are nonwhite, elite, different: The cities are where people don’t have to work hard with their hands, because they’re collecting welfare or public-sector paychecks.


Wisconsin Republicans amplified that idea this week, arguing that the legislature is the more representative branch of government, and then voting to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor. The legislature speaks for the people in all corners of the state, they seemed to be saying, and statewide offices like governor merely reflect the will of those urban mobs.


That argument is particularly debatable in Wisconsin, where the legislature has been heavily gerrymandered.

There’s a version of this argument common in small-town Whitewater: older white residents who are a minority of the whole city mostly consider themselves the true voices of the community.  One can find this view among middle-aged and elderly whites of both left and right: that they ‘live here’ (as though college-aged residents somehow don’t live here).

The actual demographics of the city show how narrow is the cohort that presumes it represents the whole community. From the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2013-2017 averages: an absolute majority of this city is under 24 years of age.  Many of those over 24 are almost certainly Latino.  The city’s leadership and insiders, however, are white and skewed older.

Newspapers in this area (and the Banner for almost its whole run until this year) have had conservative, big-government-favoring, white senior citizen publishers while claiming to speak for the ‘community.’  The community – and what it means to be community-minded – is more than a few buddies, pals, and mutual back-patters.

(I have never claimed to be demographically representative, and have always contended that I am, so to speak, an emissary of one — of my own views and of the political tradition on which they rest.  These others have unctuously wrapped themselves in a community cloak that is ill-fitting on their shoulders.)

The policies of this city have been mostly ineffectual, and she remains a low-income community despite the crowing of self-promoting community development men.  The true market of the city far exceeds officials’ narrow focus.

Neither in these last eleven years nor even in the next eleven-hundred could state or crony capitalism achieve a positive effect for this city.

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The real residents of this community are those people who reside here, each and every last one of them.

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1 year ago

Whitewater’s town-gown problem is changing although I agree that the town side pretends it’s the only side. On the town side, it’s about as moribund as I have seen it since I came here forever ago. If the people you describe as “development” men believe their own pr they are crazy. That warmed over WEDC stuff is a joke.

On the gown side, we have real disarray. Beverly has wrecked her standing except with the people she has bought on board or a few brown-nosers who would help anyone. We have some of those here. Dick was a weak chancellor, and Beverly is worse. to be honest when staff work on town-gown issues it’s not always the cream of the crop. Many faculty especially avoid town politics with good reason.