America's Socialist Experiment -

Between 1910 and 1960, the people of Milwaukee, Wisc. elected the country's first socialist U.S. Congressman, as well as three socialist mayors. The documentary AMERICA'S SOCIALIST EXPERIMENT recounts both the victories and failures of a unique brand of socialism in this historically conservative city. Widely respected for ending corruption, improving conditions for working people, and cleaning up the environment, the Milwaukee Socialists established the nation's first municipal public housing project, the first workers' compensation law, and an award-winning public health strategy that doubled life expectancy in the city. They also established an extensive public parks system, appointed the country's first director of parks and recreation, and left a legacy of government support for its citizens' quality of life. But their socialist experiment was not without its failures: some programs were too optimistic; others created unintended consequences. Their 40-year rule in Milwaukee - the longest tenure of socialists in office anywhere in America - ended only when their once-radical plans were absorbed and incorporated into the mainstream Democratic platform. Today, both Democrats and Republicans lay claim to parts of their legacy. What can this 20th-century experiment tell us about how socialism works in practice? With renewed debate approaching the 2020 election about what it means to be a socialist in America, the successes and failures of Milwaukee's "Sewer Socialists" are instructive and enlightening for generations who only know socialism as a philosophy or label.

Recent and Upcoming Airings

11.2 8/2 4:00 am