Politics & Policy

Political Poison

Michigan National Guard soldiers help distribute water to Flint residents. (Bill Pugliano/Getty)
How many Flints until we learn our lesson?

Flint, Mich., has been poisoning its residents.

The city, in an attempt to save money, planned to stop buying water from Detroit and sign up with a regional water system; in the interim, it was getting its municipal water from the Flint River, which is as much a garbage dump as it is a body of water. Residents complained that the water smells of chemicals, that it isn’t the right color, etc. Children’s lead levels are dangerously high, and an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease may also be linked to city water. The city knew about this, and did approximately nothing in response until the problem was well advanced.

A word that is curiously scarce in coverage of this disaster: Democrat.

Flint, like big brother Detroit down the way, has a long history of political dominance by the Democratic party. Its current mayor is a Democrat; so was her predecessor; the mayor before him, Don Williamson, was a career criminal (he did time for various scams some years back) and a Democrat who resigned under threat of recall; his immediate predecessor, Democrat James W. Rutherford, is a longtime politico and was elected to finish out the term of Woodrow Stanley, who was recalled because of the financial state in which he left the city.

RELATED: The Left’s Burning Cities

Stanley was in effect replaced by — Democrat — Darnell Earley, former director of the Democratic legislative caucus’s research-and-policy team, who became the city’s emergency manager. Earley is the Democrat the other Democrats blame for changing the city’s water supply, and the Michigan Democratic party has demanded his termination.

The Obama administration knew about this, too, and had known for a long time, since February of last year at least — but it chose to keep quiet on the matter.

We have a special problem in the United States, which is that the Democratic party is more of a crime syndicate than a political party.

A couple of hundred miles away, a federal judge has found that city lawyers in Chicago — which is effectively under single-party Democratic rule and long has been — intentionally concealed evidence during a trial over a police shooting. Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel — former right-hand man to Barack Obama — says that it simply is “not possible” that his administration has been involved in a cover-up of possible police misconduct. The evidence involved recordings of police radio communications — the sort of thing that would be relevant in a trial about the correctness of a police shooting. The city lawyers also “misled the court” about their evaluation of evidence.

Down in Atlanta, the Democrat-run school system was so thoroughly corrupt that teachers and administrators have been sent to prison; a Fulton County judge later reduced some of those sentences, saying he was “not comfortable” with them. In California, the Democrat-run teachers’ unions went to the mattresses to fight a state law that would have made it easier to fire teachers who had sexual relations with children in their care. When a Los Angeles teacher accused of sexual impropriety with his students was fired, he sued to appeal his firing — and the Democrat-dominated school district paid him $40,000 to drop the appeal.

RELATED: In Chicago, Rahm Emanuel Faces a Crisis Brought on by Progressive Politics

In Flint, they’ll find some way to make this the fault of the governor of Michigan, who is a Republican. The Washington Post already is publishing absurd columns in which the situation in Flint is blamed on “democracy coopted by corporate concerns,” as Janell Ross daftly puts it in a column in which the word “Democrat” does not appear. Illinois has a new Republican governor, too, and perhaps they’ll find a way to blame him for Rahm Emanuel’s shenanigans.

But that game can be played only for so long. The list of Democrat-manufactured basket-cases is long: Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New Orleans, Chicago, Newark . . . 

#share#As Max Weber put it, government is a regional monopoly on violence. It has the power to command and to coerce; it can seize your assets, lock you in a cage, and dispatch men with guns to your home or your place of business if you (e.g.) decline to bake a wedding cake for reasons that do not pass muster with the people in charge of the regional monopoly on violence. Government already sets the rules under which incumbents can be challenged; increasingly, it seeks to set the rules under which incumbents can be criticized, which is what Harry Reid’s jihad against the First Amendment is all about. Because of the nature of government — violent and monopolistic — the philosophy of big government is always the philosophy of small citizens, and small citizenship. A healthy society has many competing centers of power: governments (federal, state, and local in the U.S. model), businesses, civil society, churches, political parties, interest groups, professional associations, unions, etc. In an unhealthy society, government becomes a kind of cancer, metastasizing into every nook and cranny of society.

RELATED: Take the Cities Back from Democrats

The first line of defense is camouflage: In Flint, they are having a heck of a time deciding who decided to pump water out of the polluted river, and how and when that decision was made. We see that at the federal level, too: From the weaponization of the IRS to the neglect of the VA hospitals, nobody ever loses his job, because nobody ever is responsible. The second line of defense is lying and deceiving: In Chicago, that means illegally withholding evidence from a police-shooting trial; in Sweden, that means misleading the public about how frequently rape is committed, and by whom. In Greece, it means lying about the state of public finances.

We have a special problem in the United States, which is that the Democratic party is more of a crime syndicate than a political party, and it is deeply embedded in institutions ranging from the universities (where manufactured hate crimes and phony rape cases are used as political weapons) to the prosecutors’ offices (which bully law-enforcement personnel and file specious felony charges against politicians for such ordinary actions as vetoing legislation) to the unions (see California) and the schools. It doesn’t matter how many laws Hillary Rodham Clinton breaks, or how often she lies about it — the attorney general is a Democrat, and that’s that. Tom DeLay can be brought up on felony charges for allegedly having broken a law that wasn’t even on the books at the time he was said to have broken it (the case was eventually laughed out of court, after it had ended his political career, which was the point) but IRS criminal conspirator Lois Lerner is going to spend the rest of her days enjoying a fat pension at your expense.

Flint is the Democratic approach to governance made concrete: It poisons everything it controls.

— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review.

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