It was fun watching a surreal embalmed-looking waxworks Bob Dylan shill for Chrysler last night on the Super Bowl and noting, “Let Germany make your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone…we will build your car” — which seems rather ironic, considering that Chrysler is now owned by Italy’s Fiat.
But don’t let that unspoken fact bother you, Dylan implies by asking, “Is there anything more American than America?” It’s a particularly inscrutable sort of Zen koan, Nick Gillespie writes in response at Reason, especially when coupled with Chrysler’s recent slogan promising that the brand is “Imported from Detroit.”
Unfortunately, it’s far from the only product imported from Detroit, Or as Kevin D. Willamson writes today at NRO, “Detroit is what Democrats do:”
The last Republican elected mayor of Detroit took office during the Eisenhower administration. The decay of Detroit is not the inevitable outcome of the decline of the automotive industry: The automotive industry is thriving in the United States — but not in Detroit. It isn’t white flight: The black middle class has left Detroit as fast as it can. The model of Detroit politics is startlingly familiar in its fundamentals, distinguished only by its degree of advancement: Advance the interests of public-sector unions and politically connected business cronies, expand the relative size of the public sector remorselessly — and when opposed, cry “Racism!” When people vote with their feet, cry “Racism!” When the budget just won’t balance, cry “Racism!” Never mind that the current mayor of Detroit is the first non–African American to hold that job since the 1970s, or that, as one Detroit News columnist put it, “black nationalism . . . is now the dominant ideology of the [city] council” — somewhere, there must be a somebody else to blame, preferably: aged, portly, white, male, and Republican. No less a fool than Ed Schultz blamed the straits of this exemplar of Democratic single-party rule on “a lot of Republican policies.” Melissa Harris-Perry, “America’s leading public intellectual,” blames Detroit’s problems on its conservatism and small government, oblivious to the fact that Detroit maintains twice as many city employees per resident as do larger cities such as Fort Worth and Indianapolis, and three times as many as liberal San Jose.
As Thomas Sowell has written, “Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit’s black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.” Today, as Williamson writes, Detroit is the nation’s poorest city. To get a sense of how it collapsed, check out Bankrupt – How Cronyism and Corruption Brought Down Detroit, the new 41-minute documentary from conservative videomaker Ben Howe, and then my own interview with Williamson on Detroit from November.
Incidentally, Williamson’s article is titled “Progressivism Kills.” That it does — and its punitive appetite for the destruction of the lower and middle classes has been part of its DNA from the very start.