The leaders of the Democratic Party think they are destroying America in order to save it. Our nation’s urban revival, of which New York City was the preeminent example, was one of the great successes of the last few decades. Now this achievement is in danger as the costliest civil unrest in American history drags on, enabled by the deliberate fecklessness of Democratic leaders.
Nightly riots and assaults in Portland, massive organized looting in Chicago, and escalating violence in NYC and elsewhere are still ongoing as police are pulled back. The destruction and pillaging have devastated local economies already wounded by the Chinese coronavirus.
The Democrats who run our cities have stood by and allowed them to be ravaged, and many people and businesses have had enough and are leaving. Years of economic development and crime reduction are being undone by the incompetence and malice of Democratic leaders, motivated by a mix of ideology and cynicism.
Ideologically, many are supine before any claim or deed on behalf of “racial justice,” no matter how spurious. Thus, the same mayors who closed playgrounds in response to the Chinese coronavirus encouraged mass protests. Some have tacitly accommodated vandalism and violence as legitimate forms of protest and treated looting as justified reparations.
Amid the destruction, the national media repeat the words “mostly peaceful” to the point of absurdity, using protests as moral cover for vandalism, arson, looting, assault, and even murder. Democratic leaders have followed suit. For example, Seattle’s mayor endorsed the armed occupation of part of her city, which began with assault and extortion and predictably ended with multiple murders. Many other local Democratic leaders appear sympathetic to the destruction and rioting, permitting and downplaying it while offering only tepid condemnations of the worst violence.
Other more cynical Democrats see the chaos as a political weapon against President Donald Trump. If he does not intervene against the rioting, he appears weak; if his administration acts to quell it, Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accuse him of being an incipient dictator deploying stormtroopers.
Regardless of the reason — ideological insanity or as a cynical strategy to win an election — it is folly to trash America’s cities. The damage has been much worse than reported in legacy media, and the worst suffering will fall on those city-dwellers the Democrats claim to champion.
Attempts to rein in the destruction have been halfhearted and often underscore just how bad the situation is. After Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile was sacked, again, by organized looters (some even brought U-Hauls to facilitated the pillaging), the city started raising bridges to limit access to downtown, literal drawbridges against barbarian invaders. Meanwhile, the nightly riots in Portland did not stop after federal agents left. In New York, Gov. Andrew “send the infected into the nursing homes” Cuomo is begging the wealthy to come back to New York City and continue paying for its outsized spending.
Even from the partisan Democratic perspective, the riots and unrest might do far more damage than good. Democrats hope the damage can be quickly repaired after a Biden-Harris victory in November and perhaps some police budget cuts, but what if crime doesn’t go back down, businesses don’t rebuild and reopen, and professionals continue to move away? What if we are in for decades of urban decay and subsequently increased crime?
Cities are not rebuilt automatically. Apologists for the rioting recite the refrain “they have insurance” as though every business has perfect riot insurance that will quickly settle all claims for the full value of everything destroyed, including months of lost revenue. But reality is not like an insurance commercial; many of the damaged and destroyed businesses are never coming back. Many people are deciding city life is no longer worth it.
America’s great cities are the heart of the Democratic Party, and the long-term effects of another period of urban decline are unclear. Perhaps Democrats could adapt. A diaspora from their urban strongholds might even help if those leaving retain their partisan allegiance. Or perhaps voters will decide to punish Democrats. Either way, the urban poor and minority voters Democrats claim to care for will bear the brunt of the decline.
Of course, Democrats are also responsible for the conditions being protested. Very few large cities are governed by Republicans, and Democrats have run many for generations. The problems of cities such as Baltimore, Chicago, and Milwaukee are not the GOP’s fault. The American urban revival did not lift everyone up. Some cities were left out, and those that got ahead still left neighborhoods and groups behind.
Thus, the rioting and unrest have highlighted the fractures in the Democrats’ high/low coalition, which is run by the (mostly white) educated and well-off, ostensibly on behalf of poor and minority voters. If big-city policing is racist, what does that say about the Democrats who have been running those cities? Likewise, if American education is institutionally racist, how can the reliably Democrat teachers’ unions, as well as left-wing professors and administrators, escape the blame?
The pieces of the Democratic Party do not fit well together. Compromise is intrinsic to coalition politics, but the Democrats are past compromise into incoherence. The interests of the corporate left and urban working class do not align. Likewise, the interests of the student-debt-ridden adjutant classes are inimical to those of the urban working class.
For example, slashing police budgets and replacing cops with social workers is a jobs program for (mostly) white women with college degrees, at the expense of working-class men of all races. This is why white radicals and their cultural obsessions, such as renaming football teams, have hijacked a movement supposedly dedicated to racial justice and police reform.
For those who genuinely care about police reform and racial equality, this is a wasted opportunity. Earlier this year President Trump, a populist Republican, was running for reelection on a record of criminal justice reform. This would have been unthinkable back in the days crime was so bad that Democrats such as Joe Biden were promoting get-tough policies. Public safety made reform palatable, but disorder might take it off the table.
After the horrifying alleged police killing of George Floyd, there was a chance for bipartisan reforms, but it has been wasted on rioting and radicalism. Democratic leaders chose to filibuster federal efforts at police reform. Changes and proposals have occurred at state and local levels, but too many are rooted in anti-police ideology. The solution to police misconduct is not no police, but better police. It does not help poor or minority citizens to deprive them of the law’s protection.
In service to their political goals, Democratic leaders have allowed, enabled, and encouraged tremendous damage to our nation. But destroying cities will not end racism nor increase racial equality. It might not even help the Democrats defeat Trump, let alone build a long-term governing majority (there are now a lot of new gun owners). All Democrats have ensured is suffering for the urban poor and marginalized, whose neighborhoods are destroyed, whose economic prospects are blighted, and who are now easier prey for criminals.
Regardless of whether Biden or Trump wins in November, we will all be stuck with the Democrats’ choice to let our cities burn.