Southeast Wisconsin Purged A Fascist Congressman In 1940-- Will It Do It Again In 2012?
Today Wisconsin's 4th CD is the most dependably Democratic district in Wisconsin. Gore took it with 66%, Kerry with 70% and the Obama landslide was an eye-popping 75%. The Congresswoman from WI-4 is Gwen Moore, an outstanding and dedicated progressive. Last November, the strong right-wing headwinds still saw her mop the floor with her opponent 69-30%. The midterm before that (2006) she scored 72%. Comprised entirely of Milwaukee and working class suburbs like Cudahy and St. Francis, the district residents' medium income is just over $33,000. It's 54.8% white, 33.4% black and 11.2% Hispanic. The PVI is... D+22. But the 4th wasn't always such a bright blue stronghold. In fact, it was once the very worst kind of red hellhole.
In 1923 the 4th elected John Schafer, a Republican whose district also went further south into the area currently represented by Paul Ryan. And, in some sense, Schafer was the Paul Ryan of his day, at the forefront of the most extreme parts of the national Republican agenda, treading where just a few other psychopaths dared to go. By 1939 Schafer was a full-fledged, raving Nazi-- as virulently anti-American in his policies as Ryan is today. Allow me to quote Glen Yeadon's book, The Nazi Hydra in America, from the subchapter titled "Congressmen and Seditionists:"
One fascistic congressman was Republican John Schafer from Wisconsin. His congressional record was one of complete opposition to any defense measure. In speaking with Carlson, an investigative reporter posing as a pro-fascist, Schafer spoke of a revolution against democracy: "The Bloody kind. There will be purges and Roosevelt will be cleaned right off the earth along with the Jews. We’ll have a military dictatorship to save the country." He belonged to the Steuben Society, a German-American ethnic association.
Last year, discussing the dangers of John Boehner's Nazi pal Rich Iott, then a Republican candidate for Congress, Salon explored the prevalence of fascist support among Republican Members of Congress in the 1930s and '40s.
Several Republican Party members were also enthusiastic supporters of the German American Bund, a pro-Nazi organization made up primarily of ethnic German-Americans. Though never a major national movement, the Bund had a strong enough following that it was not unusual to see Americans in Nazi uniforms openly goose-stepping through American cities giving the straight-arm salute. Conservative politicians were frequent speakers at such rallies.
Republican support wasn’t relegated to support of minor political movements, though. Members often brought their support straight into the halls of Congress. During the early days of the war, Senator Rusfus Holman, a Republican from Oregon, gave a speech in the Senate blaming “international bankers” for the world crisis.
...As in Germany, pro-fascist Americans considered themselves patriots. They were willing to destroy American democracy in order to save America.
An article at the time quoted Republican House Member John Schafer using words eerily prescient of the kind of rhetoric used today by Tea Party activists. A revolution was coming to America, Schafer predicted. "The bloody kind,” he said. “There will be purges and Roosevelt will be cleaned right off the earth along with the Jews. We’ll have a military dictatorship to save the country."
Finally in 1940, Wisconsinites had the good sense to deny Schafer reelection and replace him with Democrat Thaddeus Wasielewski. He kept trying for elective office into the 1950s but the allure of fascism-- at least the blatant kind-- was no longer attractive enough to elect Schafer's kind of Republicans. Today, though, in some of the same wards, like Oak Creek, the far right is still alive and voting for Paul Ryan with his own more modern brand of fascism. And this cycle, Blue America is dedicating itself to helping to wake people up to the dangers Ryan poses to ordinary American families. (You've probably noticed.) If you'd like to help, please take a look at Stop Paul Ryan.