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America's Liberal Cities Show That The Progressive Movement Has Failed

The dark side of Liberalism: economic and governance failures in American cities.

Photo by Steve Knutson / Unsplash

New York City. San Francisco. Los Angeles. Chicago. Houston. Austin. Washington. Philadelphia. Portland. Seattle.

Each city has a mighty past and became a beacon to millions worldwide. Democrats have run all of them for generations. Trillions of federal, state, and local dollars have flowed to these cities in the last two decades. But each of these cities is an ungovernable mess, unable to provide essential services to its residents.

The common thread across all these regions is that each is a proud bastion of extreme progressivism. In March, a reparations committee appointed by the City of San Francisco recommended that every eligible Black adult be paid $5 million in reparations for past injustices, all personal debt and tax burdens be waived, homes be provided for just $1 a family, and a $97,000 annual income be provided for the next 250 years.

Does this mean that the state and the city are flush with cash? Have they taken care of pressing urban problems already? Not at all. The State of California, with a $300 billion budget for 2023, projects a deficit of $32 billion. In April, the state defaulted on its $18 billion debt to Washington and forced-transferred its obligations to California businesses.

Meanwhile, San Francisco and Los Angeles have lost their original appeal and resemble third-world urban cities. The National Review reported in September 2022 that reports of human and animal feces on San Francisco sidewalks increased 400 percent since 2012.

When the Biden administration stopped enforcing Title 42 last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed the National Guard and the State Police to better police the border, arguing that the federal government had failed to act. Liberals cried foul saying that states must defer to Washington, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2012 (Arizona v. United States) that states may not implement their own immigration laws.

Yet, the same liberals have, over the years, encouraged the creation of "Sanctuary Cities," which refuse to cooperate with the federal government's effort to enforce immigration law. The Left insists that sanctuary cities do not violate Arizona v. United States. As a practical matter, sanctuary cities have made the housing crisis in these liberal cities, already made miserable because of homelessness, poverty, and drug use, unbearable and unsustainable.

The New York Times reports that New York City is already overwhelmed in attempting to house 78,000 residents in temporary housing, primarily in hotels. Mayor Adams has proposed eliminating the City's right-to-shelter guarantee, which requires the City to offer shelter to anyone who asks for it. Meanwhile, busloads of new illegal migrants arrive in the City's boroughs, demanding they be provided refuge. From where will New York get the funds to continue supporting its progressive vision? The Tax Foundation's Business Tax Climate Index already ranks New York City 49 out of 50 jurisdictions.

It is not just housing. We noted two weeks ago that New York City has a K-12 budget of $39 billion, yet, its children, a majority of whom are from underprivileged communities, are failing. In 2021, the average Math score on the SAT was 492 out of a maximum of 800, placing New York City children in the bottom 42% of the global student population taking the test. The average English score was worse at 484, placing City children in the bottom 39% of the world's students. What is the Left's solution to this disastrous performance? Organize to eliminate standardized testing to determine merit for college admissions! Thanks to activists such as, every premier elite college, from Harvard to Stanford, no longer requires the SAT or the ACT for college admissions. The lone exception is MIT.

Urban crime in these cities has reached dangerous proportions. We observed a few weeks ago that data reported by police chiefs in 70 metropolitan areas showed that while homicide and rape cases fell slightly, robbery cases increased significantly from 2021 to 2022 by nearly 13%. Aggravated assaults also increased by 2.5% from 2021. In both cases, the 2021 numbers were already records. In Austin, the situation is so bad that veteran police officers are handing in their badges and heading to the exits. A New York Post story in March recounted that 911 calls are being redirected to the 311 non-emergency number because there aren't enough cops to solve crimes.

America's great cities cannot proceed down this path anymore, but vulnerable populations will keep returning reckless liberal politicians like the Squad, Cori Bush, and Jamaal Bowman to power. Voters hope these leaders will return more federal dollars to the urban areas, but voters do not understand that the U.S. government, already facing $31 trillion in debt, does not have the funds to underwrite progressive policies championed by these cities.

Despite America's urban problems, Washington's politicians are ever-ready to send dollars and weapons to Ukraine, $116 billion and counting, not to mention the $1 trillion tab that will hit American taxpayers shortly when reconstruction begins in a country that most Americans still cannot place on a map. There is something utterly wrong with this picture.

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