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July 13, 2023 | By William Osmulski
Policy Issues
Accountable Government Culture

Milwaukee Alderman Declares Republicans "Are Our Enemies"

Stamper declared that Republican state lawmakers "are not our friends, and if they are not our friends, then they are our enemies. Make no mistake about this. They are our enemies."

Stamper declared that Republican state lawmakers “are not our friends, and if they are not our friends, then they are our enemies. Make no mistake about this. They are our enemies.”

Wisconsin Republicans were gravely mistaken if they thought they would receive gratitude from the city of Milwaukee for allowing it to increase its sales tax by 2%, thereby preventing the city’s imminent bankruptcy.

When the Milwaukee Common Council voted 12-3 to raise the city’s sales tax by 2% on Tuesday, members were united in their resentment towards Republicans for requirements that prevent that city from squandering its reprieve.

“For democracies to work, politicians need to respect the difference between an enemy and an adversary” – New York Times

“The state legislature did enable us to adopt a local option sales tax of 2%, which raises real revenue. We’re talking about $193 million a year plus, and presumably that will grow as the economy grows in the years going forward,” Ald. Bob Bauman admitted before adding, “But there were some strings attached. There were some policy mandates that the state legislature imposed on the city, which are frankly outrageous.”

The new revenue must go towards the city’s pension fund or law enforcement. It also bans Milwaukee from spending any state or local taxpayer funds on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) or on the streetcar.

Bauman said this led to “a sense of anger, frustration, sadness, and even depression” among members of the common council.

No one expressed that more venomously than Alderman Russell Stamper, who crossed the line from partisan political pandering to outright hostility. Stamper declared that Republican state lawmakers “are not our friends, and if they are not our friends, then they are our enemies. Make no mistake about this. They are our enemies.”

Politicians, no matter how radical, rarely use the term “enemy,” because it carries a specific meaning that tends to undermine democratic society. They prefer terms like “adversary,” “opponent,” or “competitor.”

“An adversary is someone you want to defeat. An enemy is someone you have to destroy. With adversaries, compromise is honorable: Today’s adversary could be tomorrow’s ally. With enemies, on the other hand, compromise is appeasement,” New York Times Columnist Michael Ignatieff wrote ten years ago. “For democracies to work, politicians need to respect the difference between an enemy and an adversary.”

“The term ‘enemy’ should be reserved solely for foreign foes and those who collude with them to betray the country.”

Imnatieff is still trying to remind politicians of this distinction. He recently reiterated, “the term ‘enemy’ should be reserved solely for foreign foes and those who collude with them to betray the country. Democracy is not war by other means. It is the only reliable alternative to war.”

Don’t expect Stamper to be condemned by his colleagues on the left for crossing that line. Liberals on Twitter reacted to his speech with comments like “Duh,” “He’s 100% correct,” “agree,” and “he’s right and he should say it.”

Bauman, on the other hand, laid out a more conventional tactic preferred by the left to oppose any law they don’t like. He says the city should just ignore the law, while also suing the state over it.

With the State Supreme Court about to become dominated by a liberal majority, Milwaukee has every reason to be hopeful it will get its way without the need to destroy its newly labeled enemies in the legislature.

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