Conservatives should resist the temptation, no matter how inviting, to turn Detroit’s bankruptcy into a pie-in-the-face moment for Democrats. The issues in Detroit run much deeper than typical Democratic malfeasance. There is a troublesome Constitutional aspect to consider and a ruined populace to console.
Regarding the mechanics of the bankruptcy, Detroit, strictly speaking, did not file bankruptcy — Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr did. Detroit has been under the rule of an unelected, Governor appointed manager since March. Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, stripped the city’s elected officials of their power and installed Orr as the de facto head of Detroit’s city government. That may not be a coup de etat but it’s as close to one as a republican form of democracy can get.
Conservatives have been unruffled by this development but if there is a conservative case to be made for the rebuilding of Detroit it should begin with disavowing the actions of Governor Snyder. There is no disputing that Detroit’s city government has been a monumental disgrace but it is still an elected government. Taking it over is the worst kind of political paternalism. Telling people they cannot manage themselves is the Left’s bag — not ours.
Detroit is a laboratory beaker filled to the brim with some of the Left’s most poisonous isms — unionism, crony capitalism, corporatism. It’s civic society has been bankrupt for decades. It’s the perfect venue for new ideas. From taxes to regulation to crime to education the Left’s failures are comprehensive. May a thousand GOP city council and mayoral candidacies bloom along with a thousand literacy centers, mobile clinics, trade schools and private schools all organized by the Right. Detroit’s future polity could be underwritten by conservative political entrepreneurs.
But that will take distinguishing the victims from the perpetrators.
Right now, all many conservatives want to do is gloat.
The pensioners, the functionally illiterate and the unemployed or underemployed in Detroit are Americans. For the most part, this was done to them not by them. We need to see their need for dignity as our need for dignity. When the world scoffs at Detroit it’s also scoffing at us.
Removing a corrupt and possibly criminal regime from office is what we did by military force in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. That has not proved to be a smart idea in those cases. Let’s hope Detroit fares better.
Detroit should not receive a bailout. It needs a bail-in from people who recognize Detroit’s present unfunded distress is a possible preview of a greater cataclysm that looms for the nation.
Author Wendell Talley
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