You’ve probably all seen it somewhere, a headline from a right-wing website like this one from Eagle Rising:
Or maybe you heard it from your conservative uncle just recently at Thanksgiving dinner, after one too many beers. Because if you’re like me, your right-wing friends just love to beat the shit out of you with this one. “See, Democrats can’t get anything right! Every city they’ve had control of for years has been run into the ground!” is the sort of thing that I see pretty regularly on Facebook. It’s almost like they have to keep these things in the public eye, and as soon as they start to fade from view, somebody shares them all over again.
There is also this variation of that story:
This is a perfect example of why Republicans should not be allowed to play with statistics. Stick with what you’re good at, GOP, religious bigotry and xenophobia.
There are many factors that go into the success or failure of a city, besides who the mayor is, or what party he belongs to. Mayors are at the mercy of their state’s governor, and the federal government to a large degree, and those state and federal policies can have a huge impact on what happens in cities.
But let’s play the game by the rules the right-wingers who created this non-issue invented. Here are some facts you can use on your conservative friends about America’s poorest and richest cities, along with who runs them.
According to the website City Mayors, out of the 51 largest cities in America, 33, roughly two-thirds, are currently run by Democrats. Democrats run most cities of any size in the country. So it stands to reason that Democrats would be in charge in most of the poorest cities. There’s no disputing that. But what your right-wing uncle won’t tell you — hell, if he only consumes conservative media, he may not know — is that most of the richest cities are also run by Democrats. For the record, here are the top 10 richest American cities, according to a recent list from FindTheHome.com, as well as which party has controlled the mayor’s office in recent times:
10. Denver, Colorado — Democratic mayors since 1963
9. Austin, Texas — run by Democrats since 1975
8. Los Angeles — Democratic mayors for all but four years since 1961
7. New York City — Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, who ran NYC from 1994 to 2013 were the first non-Democratic mayors since 1945
6. Boston, Massachusetts — Democrats have been mayor since 1930
5. San Diego, California — This is the only city on the list that has bounced back and forth between Democratic and Republican mayors
4. Seattle, Washington — Democratic mayors since 1969
3. Washington, D.C. — D.C. has only had a mayor-council form of government since 1967. The last time a Republican was in charge was Board of Commissioners President Robert McLaughlin, whose term ended in 1961
2. San Jose, California — Run by Democrats since 1982.
1. San Francisco — With the exception of four years from 1992-96, San Francisco has been run by Democrats since 1968
(Information about mayors and their parties taken from WorldStatesmen.org)
So what does all of this mean? It means that these statistics are worthless. But it also means that you can “prove” almost anything you want to prove, as long as you don’t bother to look at all the data. Which might explain why conservatives just make things up most of the time. If you’re going to be wrong anyway, why take the time to look for actual evidence?
Featured image via Wikipedia