Thinking Citizen Blog — “Black Mayors in the Four Largest Cities: Is that a Big Deal?” (Jason Riley)
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic: “Black Mayors in the Four Largest Cities: Is that a Big Deal?” (Jason Riley)
Eric Adams in New York City. Lori Lightfoot in Chicago. Sylvester Turner in Houston. And now Karen Bass in Los Angeles. Wow! But is this good news only for black elites not for the black poor? Conservative columnist Jason Riley argues that based on history “ethnic political clout may be more a hindrance than a boon when it comes to economic success.” Is he right? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
“FROM 1967 TO 1993 BLACKS WERE ELECTED MAYOR IN EIGHTY SEVEN CITIES WITH A POPULATION OVER 50,000"
1. “Nearly all these black elected officials were liberal Democrats who enacted policies — higher taxes, more government spending, a larger welfare state — similar to their white counterparts. In addition they pushed for racial quotas and set-aside for minority city contractors. Nevertheless, political integration didn’t translate into a boon for the black underclass. The well-connected did fine, but the black poor became poorer.”
2. “In Coleman Young’s Detroit, the focus was on securing federal grants to provide government jobs for black supporters. Meanwhile crime rates exploded, the tax base fled the city, and Detroit’s population fell from about 1.5 million to less than one million on Young’s watch.”
3. “Marion Barry’s Washington in the 1980s likewise featured government preferences for minorities, bloated city payrolls, high crime, and a declining population.”
NB: “Between the late 1960s and the early 1990s — a period that includes not only the proliferation of black elected officials but also massive expansions of the welfare state and the implementation of racial preferences — incomes for the poorest blacks fell at more than double the rate of comparable whites.”
THE STORY OF THE IRISH IS THE SAME — POLITICAL CLOUT RETARDS ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT
1. “No other ethnic group enjoyed greater political success in the U.S. than the Irish of the mid-19th through early 20th centuries. Irish political machines controlled cities in the Northeast (New York, Philadelphia), the Midwest (Chicago, Milwaukee) and the West Coast (San Francisco). Yet during this period not much of an Irish-American middle-class existed. Despite their political prowess, the Irish were the slowest to rise economically of the European ethnic groups. Notably, it wasn’t until the decline of these patronage machines beginning in the 1940s that an Irish-American middle class emerged.”
2. “Well into the twentieth century, Irish-Americans lagged behind the national average in income and wealth. The prevalent attitude that the larger society was illegitimate produced high crime rates and predatory political machines that worked against upward mobility and economic growth. It also produced low levels of educational achievement, which sharply limited opportunity.” (Michael Barone)
3. “Thanks largely to the efforts of nongovernment entities — the Catholic Church, temperance societies, charitable organizations — that mindset changed. Today, Irish-American poverty rates are far below the national average, while incomes are far above it.”
TWO CENTURIES OF ENSLAVEMENT AND ANOTHER CENTURY OF JIM CROW
1. “Two centuries of enslavement and another century of Jim Crow obviously make the black experience in America unique, but that doesn’t mean no lessons can be drawn from the experiences of others.”
2. “One lesson is that cultural habits can change.”
3. “Another is that the development of attitudes, skills, and behaviors conducive to economic advancement is far more important for lagging groups than electing people who share their racial or ethnic background.”
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s corn bread — stale and dry.” - Loretta Lynn
LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.