“Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
Spurred by the killing of George Floyd while in police custody, protests against police violence—defined as the unjustified use of force—have erupted across America. These protests are invariably described as “mostly peaceful”. And they are, the way most people at Ford’s Theatre were just there to see the show.
Then too, there is the matter of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. He too represented only a small minority of the theatre goers; but of those, he is the one who mattered most. Because his actions defined the event.
Riots, attacks on police and violence against people and property have taken place in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington, Minneapolis Minnesota, Los Angeles California, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Salt Lake City Utah and Atlanta Georgia, to name a few. And by and large, the police, following the orders given them by civil authorities, have backed away. In some cases, like Portland Oregon, organized violence has become a nightly affair.
The media has studiously ignored the violence, preferring to emphasize the current narrative of “systemic racism” and “structural racism” being at fault. It is especially convenient to blame the violence on systemic and structural racism inasmuch as those terms lack definition and thus present a non-falsifiable hypothesis. And it is a politically convenient ploy because it distracts attention from the fact that America’s cities have been run by Democratic machine politics for generations.
Virtually all the burning cities are run by Progressives, and have been for decades. In addition to the obvious mistrust felt by significant portions of their citizens, those cities are also notable for their failing public school systems and their chronic fiscal ineptitude.
Taken together, failing public schools; police mismanagement; fiscal ineptitude, and the presence of powerful public sector unions present a picture of routine managerial incompetence. None of which has precluded the re-election of the same incompetents year after year. The obvious question is why.
Why is it that year after year the people with the most to lose from failing schools, incompetent policing and fiscal incompetence, insist on voting for the same politicians who routinely produce the same failures of governance?
The simple (and probably correct) answer is twofold. First, the opposition Republican party has not presented a viable alternative and shows little interest in doing so. Second, the party in power, the Democrats have effectively become a wholly owned subsidiary of powerful special interest groups like public sector unions and environmental groups who dictate policy.
In response, upper income groups are increasingly abandoning cities to escape from (1) rising crime and disorder and (2) a rising and oppressive tax burden. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be the catalyst, not the cause. If the trend continues and turns out to be more than fleeting, the results could be dire for the cities. As the truly wealthy head for suburban enclaves, taking the tax base with them, the cities will become islands of poverty surrounded by wealthy suburbs unwilling to finance urban excess.
The remaining question is whether upscale former urban dwellers will bring their politics with them to the suburbs, or have they finally had enough? And if they have tired of financing failure, will the cities finally reform? Or will Progressives complete the takeover of the Democratic Party and produce catastrophic failure nationally rather than just locally?
We may get a hint in November.