Who Benefits From Democratic Control?

In 1976, Gerald Ford won 15 percent of the black vote. That’s the most of any recent Republican presidential candidate. In most elections, blacks give Democrats over 90 percent of their votes. It’s not unreasonable to ask what have blacks gained from such unquestioning loyalty to the Democratic Party. After all, the absolute worst public safety conditions and other urban amenities for blacks are in cities that have been controlled by Democrats for decades. Let’s look at it.

What cities are the deadliest for blacks? The Trace, an independent nonprofit news organization, answers that question. Using 2017 data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, The Trace (http://tinyurl.com/y9bvwlh2) listed the 20 major U.S. cities with the highest homicide rates — factoring in both the number of people murdered in cities and their populations. Chicago, with 589 murders in 2018 — one murder every 15 hours — is often called the nation’s murder capital. But that’s dead wrong.

In 2017, St. Louis had the nation’s highest murder rate, at 66.1 homicides per 100,000 residents. Baltimore came in second, with 55.8 murders per 100,000 people. Detroit was third, with 39.8 murders per 100,000 people. Other cities with high murder rates included New Orleans; Kansas City, Missouri; Cleveland; Memphis, Tennessee; and Newark, New Jersey. With 24.1 murders per 100,000 residents, Chicago ranked ninth in the nation. It was followed by Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., was 17th.

Now here’s the kicker. Of the 20 most dangerous major cities, all but one had a Democratic mayor. In many of these cities, the Democratic Party has ruled for a half-century or more. Only Tulsa, Oklahoma, with 17.3 murders per 100,000 residents, had a Republican mayor.

Who knows what conclusion can be drawn from the finding that the most murderous cities have been controlled by Democrats — and often black Democrats? I am not suggesting that Democratic control causes murder and mayhem. What I am saying is that murder, mayhem and other violent crime are not reduced by the election of black or white Democrats to run our cities. That means one cannot dismiss out of hand a question then-candidate Donald Trump asked black Americans in a 2016 campaign speech in Michigan: “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? … What the hell do you have to lose?”

Violent crime is not the only problem for blacks in our major cities. Because of high crime, poor schools and a less pleasant environment, cities are losing their economic base and their most productive people in droves. When World War II ended, Washington, D.C.’s population was about 900,000; today it’s about 694,000. In 1950, Baltimore’s population was almost 950,000; today it’s around 612,000. Detroit’s 1950 population was close to 1.85 million; today it’s down to 673,000. Camden, New Jersey’s 1950 population was nearly 125,000; today it has fallen to 75,000. St. Louis’ 1950 population was more than 856,000; today it’s less than 309,000. A similar story of population decline can be found in most of our formerly large and prosperous cities. In some cities, the population decline since 1950 is well over 50 percent. In addition to Detroit and St. Louis, those would include Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

During the 1960s and ’70s, academic liberals, civil rights advocates and others blamed the exodus on racism — “white flight” to the suburbs to avoid blacks. However, since the ’70s, blacks have been fleeing some cities at higher rates than whites. The five cities whose suburbs have the fastest-growing black populations are Miami, Dallas, Washington, Houston and Atlanta (http://tinyurl.com/y8avphy5). It turns out — and reasonably so — that blacks, like whites, want better and safer schools for their kids and don’t like to be mugged or have their property vandalized. And just like the case with white people, if they have the means, black people can’t wait to leave troubled cities.

Bobby Hesley — a Catholic speaker, writer and conservative political commentator — writes, “Black people are finally starting to wake up and unplug themselves from the Liberal Matrix that has ruled their reality for over a half a century.” I say good! It’s unwise to be a one-party people in a two-party system.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
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