By Michael Bargo Jr.
Democrats have portrayed themselves as the only political party that cares for the needs of minorities, that somehow they are uniquely qualified to help them. But a state senator from Louisiana, Elbert Guillory, recently left the Democratic Party and became a Republican, citing the recent policies of Democrats.
A close look at how the poor fare under Democratic Party control reveals that the Party has not only done very little to improve the long-term economic conditions of minorities but that its policies have a history of destroying the black family and the social conditions under which they live, as long noted by authors and economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.
The American city that has been most completely controlled by Democrats is Chicago. It is a case study of the effects of Democratic policies upon minorities. In a matter of just a few decades Chicago went from being a city that provided great opportunities for blacks to being the most racially segregated and oppressive city in America.
From its very beginning Chicago provided opportunity for blacks. The first non-native American settler in the area was a Haitian black named DuSable. Chicago never had slavery. It had an early abolitionist movement and showcased Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, in debates with Stephen Douglas. The most prominent black magazines, Ebony and Jet, were founded in Chicago. They celebrated black culture and fashion. Oprah Winfrey became a billionaire anchoring her TV show in the City of Chicago.
When blacks first moved to Chicago during WW I in the great migration north they wore black armbands in memory of Lincoln and voted for Republicans, the party of Lincoln. But soon the black attitude toward Republicans changed. By 1920 thousands of blacks worked in Chicago in city and county jobs. But when Anton Cermak was elected mayor, he fired all the blacks and rehired only black Democrats. Black residents were funneled by the Chicago Democratic machine into highly segregated black-only neighborhoods. This segregation and racism has lasted one hundred years and persists to this day.
The Chicago Democratic Machine institutionalized housing segregation more than any American city. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted that Chicago's housing segregation was the major cause of poverty among blacks. Mayor Daley I doubled the number of residents in low-income housing from 1960 to 1970 at a time when the population fell by eight percent. Those high-rise buildings allowed Democratic precinct captains to intimidate black voters into voting for Democrats by threatening to take away their apartments. The era of high-rise low-income buildings, portrayed in the TV comedy show Good Times, only ended when a courageous black woman named Dorothy Gautreaux sued the Chicago Housing Authority for racial discrimination. Since then the high-rise buildings have been gradually torn down and blacks are moving to suburbs or out of Illinois entirely.
This segregation was practiced in all major northern cities run by Democrats including Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Boston, D.C., New York, Cleveland, Detroit and many others. While pursuing his civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, Dr. King marched in Chicago and was stunned by the racial hatred he experienced there. In a city that never hosted slavery, Dr. King said "I think people in Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate."
The 2000 Census found that for Chicago to be integrated 90% of the blacks would have to move. And remarkably, of the 10 poorest census tracts in the entire United States, nine of them were located in Chicago's black Congressional Districts of black Congressmen Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr. When Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned his Congressional seat, Democrats said that he must be replaced by another black. This could serve no other purpose than to preserve Democratic power and maintain the segregationist status quo.
Nothing has improved for black residents in these segregated areas even with the assistance of black politicians of their own race, who campaign that they will improve things. The Chicago Public School system is so bad that it has one of the shortest school days of any major city. This holds back the poor of all ethnic groups from excelling in academics and moving out of the City.
Racial segregation is a very effective means of exploiting the poor, since it keeps them from obtaining good paying jobs, deprives them of any benefit from public education (which is very expensive), and ensures that lack of opportunity forces young black men into lives of gang membership and crime. Today one of every nine black men in their twenties is in prison. This does not mean that one in every nine has ever been in prison, but that they are in prison all at once. All of these failures are great spiritual and emotional tragedies for the black families involved.
Black families did not suffer these high rates of single motherhood and crime until they were encouraged to go north into cities controlled by Democrats. It is a very tragic episode in the history of blacks in the United States. Fortunately blacks are realizing that it is the segregated urban environment that is the root cause of all these problems and many are leaving the North.
Anyone who firmly rejects this conclusion -- that blacks have fared far worse under Democratic rule -- needs to consider the corollary: imagine that Chicago and all other northern cities with black ghettoes had been run by Republicans and that blacks suffered the same high rates of unemployment, single motherhood, poverty and crime that they do today. Then imagine that these cities were taken over by Democratic politicians, and these social indicators were reversed: that the high school dropout rate greatly improved, that only 20% of blacks were born to single mothers instead of the 70% we see today, and that the murder rates in black areas greatly declined. Only then would it be reasonable to conclude that Democrats helped the black community.
It is true that blacks have been oppressed by whites in America. But it is more accurate to say that blacks have suffered under white Democrats in America. These thoughts led Louisiana state senator Guillory to quit the Democratic Party and become a Republican.
And while Barack Obama ran on the optimistic slogans of "yes we can!" and "hope and change" during his first term black unemployment and food stamp use rose to all-time highs. The Democratic Party continues to enjoy the support of black voters and this support is only possible because Democrats are never held accountable for the oppressive social conditions, poverty, and high unemployment suffered by blacks under their rule.