I thought I might share Jason L. Riley’s take on the situation in Buffalo from his Wall Street Journal column:
It is unfortunate that this is what it takes for Buffalo to get the attention it deserves, because the city has been hurting for decades. Its population peaked in 1950 and has been falling steadily since the 1970s. Today, this former industrial powerhouse is the third-poorest city of its size in the country, with more than 1 in 3 residents on food stamps. Three-quarters of the city’s public schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Between 2019 and 2020, murders rose by 30% nationwide but by 34% in Buffalo, according to the Buffalo News. In 2020, there were 100 more shooting victims than the city had averaged over the previous decade.
And while the actions of a self-described white supremacist have put Buffalo in the news, the city’s problem is hardly white supremacy. Buffalo has a black mayor who is serving his fifth consecutive four-year term. The leader of the City Council and the school superintendent are also black, as is the man who served as police commissioner from 2018 until his retirement earlier this year. Like other cities in previous eras—Coleman Young’s Detroit, Marion Barry’s Washington, Sharpe James’s Newark, N.J.—Buffalo’s black underclass has gotten poorer under the direction of black politicians. Electing people who share your race or ethnicity is no guarantee that they will act in your best interests.
Buffalo’s black population is about three times as much relative to its population as New York City, a little higher than Chicago’s. The cruel irony is that although the Democratic Party is extremely dependent on the fidelity and participation of black voters, black voters are largely ignored by Democrats after election day. As young urban highly educated professionals have assumed greater importance in the party that situation has become worse rather than better.
The midterms will be telling. While I expect turnout by black voters to remain high, it is likely to be lower than in a general election and I suspect that the black vote will be frighteningly different than it was in 2020.