Mr. Trump Goes to Detroit

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke at Detroit’s Great Faith Ministries International church on Saturday, taking his outreach to minority voters out of the suburbs and into one of the most distressed cities in the United States.

The move was significant on two levels; it proved that Trump is serious about rescuing black voters from the Democratic Party and it scared away the vultures who have accused him of using this topic to attract white Republicans.

Trump was humble, telling his audience that he was there to learn as much as he was to speak.

“Today, I just want to let you know that I am here to listen to you and I am doing that,” he said. “We talk past each other and not to each other. And those who seek office do not do enough to step into the community and learn what’s going on. I’m here today to learn, so that we can together remedy injustice in any form, and so that we can also remedy economics so that the African-American community can benefit economically through jobs and income and so many other different ways.”

Trump couldn’t have picked a better place to deliver this message. In its prime, Detroit gave rise to one of this country’s greatest revolutions: the mighty automobile industry. It turned the city into a thriving metropolis, creating the first middle class opportunities for millions of black Americans.

At the same time, though, it wasn’t Ford and General Motors that made Detroit the heart of the industrialized era. Before the city became known for rolling iron, it was already a manufacturing mecca. When the automakers came to town, they were able to easily outfit their factories with workers who had learned their trade in marine transportation. The product changed; the template remained the same.

Today, there is no “other industry” that can come in and restore Detroit. This is a city where only 20% of black males graduate high school on time. The unemployment rate sits around 15%, three times higher than the national average. Vast sections of the city have been all-but-abandoned. Crime is rampant. It’s hard to see why any company would try to make a go of it there.

There is a way forward, but it cannot be found in the current local political climate. The decline of the American auto industry certainly hurt Detroit, but it was decade after decade of liberal policies that cemented that hurt into disaster. It’s been more than 50 years since the city had a Republican mayor, and Democrats have used their unopposed dominance to throw the city into a devastating cycle of increased spending and higher taxes.

In 2013, Detroit became the largest American city in history to declare bankruptcy.

“In every community I will have an opportunity to lay out my plans for economic change which will be good for Detroit and so good for this community by bringing jobs back,” Trump said. “I will have a chance to bring them back. We’re taking them back from Mexico and everywhere else because they’re gone.”

Hopefully, voters will give Trump that chance. But before he can make good on those promises, we must make sure those jobs have a hospitable home. Not just in Detroit, but in thousands of other American cities where Democrats have choked the lifeforce out of capitalism.