Friday, September 12, 2008

Poverty and Politics

Understand as you read this that I am the least qualified person in the world to talk about U.S. politics. But...since it is the season...I will share a few observations:
1)Republicans seem to care more about a child's right to life and I certainly agree with that (esp. after studying the doctrine of Humanity in Theology).
2)Democrats seem to care more about being good stewards of the environment and I appreciate that (esp. after studying Creation in Theology).
3)The Republican side has a more biblical view of marriage (again Theology class) although every time this side rants and raves about it they seem to forget that God hates all sin and 50-60% of them have had or are going to have a divorce.
4)And this is the one that has always thrown the biggest wrench in my train of thought. The Democrats have historically claimed to have a better plan for the poor and underprivileged. Having grown up in Kenya where I was constantly faced with so much poverty this issue is near and dear to me. Until Christ returns I don't believe that poverty will ever be eradicated (Jesus said so Himself). But I do believe that as Christians we are called upon to help and assist those less fortunate.
With all that in mind, as a believer I have always thought that both parties had something to offer. So with that said and without taking anything away from that statement let me share the following facts which to be quite honest shocked me.

The following stats come from an article by Glen Beck of CNN Headline News.

What do the top ten U.S. cities with the highest poverty rate all have in common?

Democrat leadership.

Detroit, MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1961;
Buffalo, NY (2nd on the poverty list) hasn't elected one since 1954;
Cincinnati, OH (3rd on the list).. since 1984;
Cleveland, OH (4th on the list) since 1989;
Miami, FL (5th on the list) has never had a Republican Mayor;
St. Louis, MO (6th on the list) since 1949;
El Paso, TX (7th on the list) has never had a Republican Mayor;
Milwaukee, WI (8th on the list) since 1908;
Philadelphia, PA (9th on the list) since 1952;
Newark, NJ (10th on the list) since 1907.

I hate that so many in the Christian community have married themselves to the Republican party. But... in light of the above information, I think it is obvious which side I am more inclined towards.


elizabeth said...

And if you haven't tuned into what's been happening with the mayor of Detroit (Kwame Kilpatrick)in the last few months, you might want to check and see. It would add to your conclusion.

Josh W said...

These are interesting stats, but they are probably also misleading. The power that mayors have to enact policies varies a lot from city to city, depending on the type of government the city has established. Even if the city has a "strong mayor" system, there are things which are beyond their control. The mayors of El Paso and Miami probably have very little to do with the fact that their cities are geographically prime locations for a constant, overwhelming influx of poor immigrants. The mayors of Detroit over the past 30 years can't really be held responsible for the collapse of the auto industry there, or the race riots and white flight of the sixties and seventies. It is also important to remember that the most poverty stricken region of the US, the deep south, is also the most solidly Republican. But then again, that doesn't mean that republican leadership is therefore responsible for the poverty in the south. It is always more complex than a quick list of statistics can really tell you. I think you're right in your original assumption - both sides have something to say on the issue.

Leslie and Thomas Crane said...

Thanks for the comment. I'm excited that you wrote and took a different position. It's fun.
To be honest I don't have much insight into how powerful the Mayor's office is.
I will not deny that there is much poverty here in the South, but 8 of the 10 cities on this list are in the North with Democratic leadership. Maybe the Democratic party can't be blamed for what has happened in these cities over the years. But the constant factor for all of them has been their local leadership. Presidents from both parties have come and gone.
If we truly want the "Change" which the Democrats are so proudly campaigning on doesn't it make sense to apply that concept across the board?

josh w said...

I think you're right that some responsibility must be taken by the local leadership, but I don't think these statistics really prove anything about democrats and poverty either. I don't believe these cities would see much change in their poverty levels (good or bad) if they were to have thirty years of republican mayors. It's never that simple. There is an old saying that Americans tend to vote liberal on the local level and conservative on the national level, and I think this is part of the reason why there are so many democratic mayors on this list.
I think both parties lean too heavily on their own philosophies while being dismissive of the other side. The Bible doesn't get too specific about who should be taking care of the poor, but it has hard words for any nation that fails to do it. I believe poverty is a problem that all of society, both in the public and private realm, has to be engaged in.

(On the opposite end of the wealth spectrum, what do you think of the Abu Dhabi trillionaire takeover of Manchester City? And their plan to buy every famous player in the world ever?)