Why Democrats win the Cities
Of America’s 25 largest cities, 21 of them overwhelmingly voted Democrat in the 2020 presidential race. There is no denying the fact that urban areas tend to vote Democrat. The question isn’t “Do they?” It is, “Why do they?”
I asked the question on Facebook the other day and got some great responses. Here are some of the responses I received.
People who live shoulder to shoulder tend to think more like a “hive,” whereas the “farm” mentality is different.
Poor people tend to live in the cities. They tend to be more dependent on welfare. Welfare is much more a Democratic platform than it is Republican and therefore locks in the vote of those who depend on it.
The effects of poverty in urban areas has a lot to do with it.
The wealthy urban dwellers’ conscious is helped by government aid
Urban areas drive the need for government involvement
Population Density. The need is overwhelming, and people look to social programs to fill the need as it is too great for individuals to meet on their own.
In urban areas people tend to have a stronger reliance on government than they do on each other.
A collective mindset v. An independent mindset
Spiritual issues come into play
My own opinion mirrors some of what is mentioned above, and I would also add some thoughts to these. I tend to agree with the fact that cities/urban areas vote Democrat because of the great need that is found in a relatively small area (Density). I also agree that because the need tends to be so great it is much easier, and perhaps more natural, to look to the government for help. The government has far more resources, financial (ie. Rent assistance/food stamps etc) and physical (health/safety) than any individual has to offer. Even churches have abdicated much of their responsibilities to the government.
I can’t help but agree that, were I to find myself in the same situation as many of them, I would tend to look for help where I knew I could get it. And sadly… that is most often the government. The question, however, is; should this truly be the role of the government? One person pointed out the difference in people having their needs met by the government v. having them met relationally… by someone you know and interact with. Is this even possible in a large city?
I think of it this way. If I attend a very large church (say 30,000 people), but I make no effort to get involved, I may look to that church to meet my needs when they arise. I can go into the office and ask for rent assistance, but they don’t know me. I say, “well, I attend here,” but they still don’t know me. They will probably end up helping to the extent that they can. But wouldn’t it be much more beneficial for the church, for me, and for others if I got involved. If I started attending a smaller group within the church. Build relationships with 10-20 people. Then when I have a need, they would be the ones I could go to. When others had needs I could be a part of their solution! I’m still part of the larger church, but needs are being met at a more local and relational level. I DO realize that this sounds “ideal.” Nonetheless, it is very doable. It also doesn’t have to be a church setting. There are plenty of community groups to be involved with.
BUT… this is my “conservative and independent” thinking coming through. I tend to “think” this is a better way for it to be done. Honestly, I don’t think you could convince me otherwise… BUT… this is NOT how many who live in the city think. And this is one of the reasons they vote Democrat. Does this mean “Democrat” is a better way, or system, or platform? I don’t think so. In fact I think it to be far worse! It creates a “welfare-state.” It creates a dependency on an institution that was never meant to function in the way these individuals are wanting it to function. We’ve all heard of the phrase, “Nanny-state.” This is where it comes from. The Government begins to be seen as the Nanny. Fulfilling all of my needs. Causing me to have to do less and less.
I’ve been a landlord to literally hundreds of people over the years both in rural and urban settings. I have personally known very few of the people I have rented to. Many of those we have rented to have been great tenants. There have also been many who have been, well… not so great. What was the difference between the great ones and the not-so-great ones? Was it that they paid their bill each month? Well, although this was always nice, it wasn’t the biggest difference. The best renters were those who communicated well and displayed a pride in the place they lived. They didn’t drive the rental into the ground by neglect and unsanitary living. They were honest. They didn’t have pets when they weren’t supposed to. They didn’t allow other people to move in with them. They didn’t have drugs on the premises. Not surprisingly, these were almost always the ones to pay their rent on time as well. However, when they needed help, they would call and ask for it. We’d bend over backwards to help them too! The worst renters were those who had a sense of entitlement. Those who believed that the home or apartment was “actually” theirs and that their choices were to be respected. If they chose to have a pet… well, they chose to have a pet! If they chose not to pay their rent, well… that was their choice! “Evict me if you want to, but I know the pain and stress of that process, so it’s up to you landlord!”
I’ve also been on a different end of this where, as a pastor, people come to the church asking for help with their rent. Many of those who are responsible and work hard to be great renters are the last ones to come asking for help. There are also those who would come in almost demanding help. These were usually the ones who also tended to trash-talk their landlord. Somehow, they have grown a huge sense of entitlement. They “system” owes them. It doesn’t matter what “system” it is, whether it’s the government system or the church system etc. It’s a very sad scenario.
In the past we have personally found ourselves in great need. Asking for help is one of the hardest things on earth to do. We are so thankful to people in our lives who have helped us in those times of need. There have also been times when we have been very thankful for government assistance! There should be no place for shaming people in the middle of their need. In fact, we should TRY HARD to be part of the solution to other people’s needs! But there are two very different mindsets out there. One mindset demands that their needs be met. The other is simply thankful for any assistance that comes their way.
BUT Again… this is ME… A conservative, outside-the-city dweller. It’s how I think. And I honestly don’t think you could convince me that the other way of thinking is somehow better. BUT… increasingly this is how many who live in the city think when it comes to social systems, and entitlement, and getting their needs met. And this is one of the reasons they vote Democrat.
I think there is a spiritual component to this as well. William Frey from the Brookings Institute states, “Urbanites of all incomes tend to be more secular and pro-choice.” There are plenty of examples of city life in the Bible. In fact throughout history it seems that the “city” is the grouping place for a very diverse and highly secularized population. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around why this is exactly, but nonetheless… it’s been this way since the beginning of human civilization. People tend to think that they have a better chance of blending in and not being noticed in cities. They like that idea in many ways. They can do whatever they want to do. Act however they want to act. And just go unnoticed. Do that same thing in Ritzville, or Hamilton, or some other small town, and you’ll DEFINITELY be “noticed.” The city is a good place to “hide” for a lot of people. Unfortunately, the desire to blend in begins to work against these same people. They then develop a craving to “be noticed.” To have their “voice heard.” It’s a very legitimate desire and need! But ironically, they find themself, an individual, living in a sea-of-need.
I personally know MANY (hundreds if not thousands) of upright and wonderful people who live in cities. I know that this may come across very harsh. I am absolutely NOT saying that living in a city makes one needy/filthy/evil/unrighteous! However, I have also personally witnessed many people move to urban areas so that their life-style wouldn’t be so noticed. So their choices would blend in with those around them. So they could live more like they wanted to and less like God would have them live. It’s just the fact of what I’ve seen over the years. And it’s very provable simply by looking at the totality of history. To sweep over the spiritual component to urban problems would simply be dishonest. I simply won’t do it. The problems just seem to multiply in cities. I honestly don’t think you could convince me otherwise! BUT… me thinking this way doesn’t solve any issue. It doesn’t take care of any of the problems.
Another huge issue in cities is the breakdown of the nuclear family. The crisis of Fatherlessness is a pandemic worth taking drastic measures to fix! According to The National Fatherhood Initiative, A fatherless child is has a 4x greater risk of poverty, 7x more likely to become pregnant as a teen, faces a 2x greater risk of infant mortality, is more likely to go to prison, more likely to commit crime, more likely to have behavioral problems, 2x more likely to suffer from obesity, 2x more likely to drop out of high school, is more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and is more likely to face abuse and neglect. There are 5x more single mother households in the U.S. than there are single-father homes. 19.7 million children in the U.S. live without a father in the home. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. SEVENTY percent of African Americans live in urban areas. Three out of ten single parents are black. Since black people only represent 13.4 of the U.S. population, this is definitely a number of crisis. These single mothers (along with many white single mothers) have tremendous needs and the majority of them live in urban areas. …………….They also tend to vote Democrat. For obvious reasons! Is fatherlessness the way things should be??? Absolutely NOT! My heart breaks for these children!!! Is the Democrat solution the right and sustainable solution for this CRISIS! I don’t believe it is… but until Republicans can come up with something to truly meet the real and felt need votes will continue to be lost. Yes, Republican, I think we need to do it RIGHT! Yes, I think we need to make it SUSTAINABLE! But the fact is… we need to DO IT!!!
As far as population goes, more people live in urban America than in rural America. If every person voted (which is never the case) the cities would win every time. Do I think that Democratic principles must somehow be correct because they have more votes than Republicans do? No. Since we have a two-party system and Republican & Democrat is what I have to choose from, the Republican platform is, in my opinion, far superior to the Democrat option. Nonetheless, unless we can somehow begin to meet the real and felt needs of those in urban areas we will continue to suffer losses in elections simply because the urban population is greater than the rural population. Should “winning elections” be our motivation behind meeting people’s needs? To that I say emphatically NO! And yes! Let me explain. If my motivation doesn’t come from God… from within me… then the Bible states it pretty clearly… it means NOTHING! My motivation of helping people MUST come from God for it to have any true significance. But, at the same time, I believe that the Republican Party has a healthier platform overall. It’s healthier for my family. It is healthier for my community. It is healthier for our nation, and for the world. It ABSOLUTELY needs some overhaul!!! But it’s foundation is much healthier than the Democrat platform. We need to come up with some BRILLIANT IDEAS OF COMPASSION that can be taken to the urban areas. The Democrats completely have us beat in the city, but it does not need to remain that way. Republican ideas on School choice, Charter Schools, Law & Order, Improving city services far outshine the Democrats, but we do NOT have is a direct link of help to those in need. Those in need see food stamps/rental assistance/welfare/health care as coming straight from the Democratic Party and they aren’t seeing it completely incorrectly. It is simply untrue to say “All assistance received in urban areas comes from the Democrat party!” Absolutely untrue! However, that’s the perception and therefore, that’s the political reality we currently live with. Until Republicans can step up to the plate and, in a healthier and more sustainable way, meet people where they find themselves, we will continue to lose our votes to the Democratic Party.