With the killing of George Floyd, Americans are forced to face a hard reality. “In just three months it has become clear that modern urban progressivism is politically incompetent and intellectually incoherent,” writes Daniel Henninger in the WSJ.
Media Picking at Scabs
The media and press have served an arbitrating function among competing urban forces. No longer. Through the pandemic and now the protests, much of the urban-based media have become bizarrely invested in apocalyptic storylines, picking at scab after scab and problem after problem, with not much effort at sorting substantive policy alternatives other than heading deeper into the progressive frontier.
Defund the Police?
After weeks of marches through cities that have already witnessed their populations dribbling away, only one idea has strongly emerged: defund the police.
Progressive Leaders Ambivalent about Civil Order
- In New York, with blocks of stores boarded up and cherry bombs exploding nightlyeverywhere, the City Council has agreed to cut the city’s police budget by $1 billion, or one-sixth. How hard is it to connect the dots?
- In Seattle, a shapeless mass declares multiple blocks of Seattle now belong to it.Asked how long it could on, Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan wanly offers: “I don’t know. We could have a Summer of Love.” The first one was in 1967, also accompanied by massive urban unrest.
- In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend issued a plaintive request to the daily street protests: “You don’t need to protest. You won. You won.” Then the kicker: “What reform do you want? What do you want?”
The message being sent is that progressive governance is, at best, ambivalent about maintaining civil order. The net result the past three months has been a sense in many cities of irresolvable chaos, stress and threat.
An Urban Exodus
Mr. Henninger wonders if younger, liberal families would stick out city life if they thought that there was anything like a coherent strategy by city leaders. Important strategies, he notes, would include addressing new threats: the homeless, the rising crime, the filth, the increasingly weird school curriculums.
But there is no strategy.
The quality of the response by both political and institutional urban leadership to the pressure of these two events has been so uniformly unproductive that it sends a message: The cost-benefit just isn’t working anymore, with incentives mounting to move out.
Will the Divide Deepen
If young families and well-off retirees leave these cities, these urban areas will increasingly become more divided between “upscale progressive singles able to afford the political incompetence and the residents of inner-city neighborhoods that will fall further behind.”