EDITOR’S NOTE: The following opinion article by Michael Brox is a reprint from several weeks ago. Due to grammatical errors in spelling and punctuation that was in the first run, we are reprinting it this week.
Wake up Milwaukee! If you do not vote, who do you think you’re helping?
I’ll tell you who you’re helping. You’re helping the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which is doing everything it can to keep you from voting.
You are also helping those in elective office who you say are not doing anything.
Now if we are serious about changing our lives for the better, one of the first things we must do is vote the person or persons not doing a good job out of office.
I promise you that once other politicians see that we will vote them out, they will begin to respond to our needs.
Right now, their attitude about us, the voter, is: “I don’t have to do anything because our people do not or will not vote anyway.”
In this coming election (February 21 is the primary), not only do we have to worry about who to vote for, we must also be concerned about where we are to vote.
The city’s daily newspaper reported recently that redrawn legislative maps are putting voters in incorrect locations in Milwaukee–even across the Atlantic Ocean–putting some voters in Africa of all places.
I know there are some folks from outside our community who would love to see us go back to Africa, but isn’t that a little extreme?
The daily reported in the same article that state election officials hope to fix the issue by the February 21 primary. If they don’t, some voters could find themselves at the wrong voting place or learn their name isn’t on the list…because they’re at the wrong polling place.
If the voter ID and redistricting controversy shows us anything, it is that the Black vote in this state is crucial to winning statewide elections. This is because the ID law and redistricting impacts the Black community the most. However, judging from past elections–with the exception of the presidential election in 2008–we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to not using our voting privileges to their maximum affectiveness.
If we really realized just how important our vote is, we would be voting enmass, instead of sitting around pouting about how vote doesn’t count.
Another reason our vote is so important is the high concentration of people in Southeastern Wisconsin, especially in Milwaukee. To win Milwaukee is to win the entire state. If there is a close political race state-wide (i.e. governor, U.S. Senate, Director of Public Instruction, Attorney General, or for that matter even for the Presidency of the United States), it is very important for that political party or candidate to win the city of Milwaukee because that is where the majority of voters are, and that majority are people of color–most notably Black.
If these people of color do not show up to vote, Milwaukee becomes a non-factor, which means much more conservative counties such as Brown, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Waukesha, Winnebago, etc. will control what goes on–voting wise–throughout the rest of the state.
We must also stop telling ourselves the lie that Milwaukee will always vote democratic. Did you know that Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson received 63,653 Milwaukee votes while his opponent, incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold received only 53,424 votes from city residents…and lost the election.
Yes, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the city in his gubernatorial run against Scott Walker…who won the election! This fact illustrates that though Milwaukee is important, you need more than the state’s largest city to win a tight state-wide election. The recall election will most likely be another tight match-up between the incumbent governor and whoever emerges as his opponent.
For the challenger to beat Walker, he or she will have to win between 84 to 89% of the vote.
I shared this piece of information with Russ Feingold’s campaign, Barrett’s campaign and the campaign staff of Kathleen Falk when she ran for governor. None of them listened. As the old saying goes: “And the rest is history.”
I have studied politics for a long time. I also have a degree in Political Science from UW-Milwaukee and worked on a number of campaigns, both local and state. What I’ve learned during this time is this:
Wisconsin’s Great North Woods area (White northern Wisconsinites) will split their vote 49%-51% or an even 50-50–around that margin. Thus the final decision as to who will win or lose an election comes down to Southeastern Wisconsin (i.e. Milwaukee, Racine, etc…)–the Black, Latino and Asian vote.
The minority can become the majority in this coming election and in November if we work together. We can do it! Whoever runs for a statewide office, especially in these times, is going to have to get out of their comfort zone and reach out and connect with the grassroot Milwaukee. Our vote does count! Not only politically, but monetarily too.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is raising and spending millions of dollars in the recall effort. they already have hundreds of people on the payroll around Wisconsin who have little to no experience working on a political campaign.
Why haven’t your elected representatives told you about these jobs? If the Democratic Party, the Unions or anybody else wants our vote, they’ll have to deliver on the promises they make to get it. Start making your vote count on Feb. 21 in the primary elections. Let’s work together to make sure neither Democrats or Republicans take Milwaukee for granted.