The Republican Party is wasting an opportunity that may not come again for a generation.
Congressional Republicans and many in the Trump administration have accepted the verdict of the mob that police reform/defunding/whatever is the essential element in addressing everything that can get poured into the phrase “systemic racism.”
But surely questions about policing form just one segment of the interactions between social, political and state institutions and the Black community.
Andrew Breitbart used to rightly say that “politics is downstream of culture.” In the same way, policing is downstream of pretty much every pathology. By the time the police are a routine presence in one’s life, the ship has pretty much sailed.
What is upstream of policing? In too many communities of color, what is upstream are defective and deteriorating schools, hamstrung teachers, indifferent municipal bureaucrats, government housing, and numerous other quotidian pathologies associated with one-party rule and union collusion. In many cities, one party has ruled for most of the last 50 years, and in all cities, the problem of municipal unions has been present for at least a generation before that.
Last Republican mayor in San Francisco? 1964. Last Republican mayor in Baltimore? 1967. Minneapolis? 1961. Number of years since World War II that New York City has had a Republican mayor? Just 13, and five of those were with John Lindsay, who ran for president as a Democrat.
The mob, collectivist in nature and leftist in orientation, wants us to focus on just one subset of those pathologies — policing. But the reality is that the strong bonds between municipal unions and one-party rule in cities manifest their destructiveness in citizens’ lives in all kinds of ways and through every interaction the citizens have with the system.
If Congress truly wanted to improve the lot of those who suffer under the system created and preserved by one-party rule and government workers’ collectives, it would engage not only in policing reform, but educational reform, housing reform, and transportation reform, and commit to rooting out the low-level but pervasive corruption that infects so many cities.
This is a moment when the Republicans can show the residents of our cities that they care enough to make the effort to improve the lives of their fellow citizens and free them from the grip of acquisitive unions, indifferent bureaucracies, and politicians and parties whose only interest is in getting and expanding their power.
Republicans should not be limited to the frame presented to them by the more violent elements of the protesters. Rather, they should leverage the protesters to do what has been needed for at least a generation — clean out the Augean stables of cities, including unions (especially those who “represent” teachers and civil servants), corrupt politicians and useless bureaucracies.
For the first time in my life, there is enough focus and resolve among both Black and White communities to allow for meaningful changes to the cities and how they are run. The moment requires expansive action.
Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago, who has both encouraged and profited from the pathologies associated with a large city, once noted that one should never let a crisis go to waste. The protesters have unwittingly created a moment where legitimate change may be possible. Republicans should not let it go to waste.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
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