This introductory chapter sheds light on the complicated history of Milwaukee's politics. At midcentury, cities like Milwaukee were crucial political battlegrounds in the postwar era. In these metropolitan milieus, the often inchoate yet passionately held postwar ideals of the public good promoted by New Deal liberals ran up against notions of individual rights expressed largely, though not exclusively, through unfettered free enterprise. Yet at times, the interplay between liberalism and conservatism was not clear-cut. Liberal assertions of what constituted the public good were complicated by personal ideology, political expediency, and a failure to grasp the challenges ahead. With such complex visions competing to define the city's future, Milwaukee illustrates both the limits of postwar liberalism and the resurgence of conservatism, a dynamic repeated in cities across the nation.
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