Volume > Issue > Beyond the Reefs of Roast Beef

Beyond the Reefs of Roast Beef

CHRIST & NEIGHBOR

By John C. Cort | November 1984

Milwaukee has always been a town where left-wing candidates have had a fair chance to win of­fice. Labor has been strong there. The anti-socialist and anti-Catholic policies of Prince Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor of Germany from 1871 to 1890, motivated large numbers of socialists and Roman Catholics to emigrate, and many of them wound up making beer in Milwaukee.

But even in Milwaukee, Socialist candidates have had problems. A leader of the Party there once explained the defeat of a Socialist candidate with a Polish name this way: “If we had had some­one with a good American name like Schemmelpfennig, we could have won.”

Historians have been struggling for years to explain why, among the industrial nations of the West, only the U.S. has no democratic socialist par­ty of national significance, nor even a party that could really be said to speak for the labor move­ment. The mere fact that the AFL-CIO had the au­dacity to endorse a candidate in the recent presidential primaries has given rise to cries of outrage and horror.

The Schemmelpfennig story suggests one of the standard explanations, at least as far as the fail­ure of socialist parties in America is concerned. The lack of “good American names” in such move­ments has certainly been a drawback.

Enjoyed reading this?

READ MORE! GET A FREE 7 DAY TRIAL

SUBSCRIBE TODAY

You May Also Enjoy

Occasions of Truth

Sustained national discussion of taboo topics like contraception and Planned Parenthood have yielded valuable 'teaching moments' and surprisingly countercultural essays in some mainstream venues.

Billy Graham to the Rescue?

I fantasize that some contemporary Nathan the Prophet might chat with the President, not about sins like adultery and murder but about social sins. I’m afraid a Catholic bishop would not be right for the part.

The Catholic Connection

A war is being waged for the soul of America, and Catholics are on the…