Memorial Day musing | Repositioning failure as success: pandemic; urban revitalization; voter suppression
Seeing this tweet from President Trump:
Remember this, every Governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the Coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way have gotten those numbers, or had that success, without me and the Federal Governments help. From Ventilators to Testing, we made it happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
Reminded me of my reaction to an op-ed ("The seeds of the H Street ‘miracle’") in the Washington Post, where the DC chapter of LISC made out that the revitalization of H Street NE was in large part the result of the efforts of the H Street Community Development Corporation, a LISC affiliate.
-- "The community development approach and the revitalization of DC's H Street corridor: congruent or oppositional approaches?," 2013
Post riot cleanup of the 800 block of H Street NE, note the Kay Jewelers sign, Alexander Lmanian photo
The commercial district languished for two decades while "being revitalization" (and almost 40 years since the 1968 riots), because the organizing principle of the H Street CDC was that the only value in the neighborhood was the opportunity to assemble and redevelop land that was close to Downtown and Capitol Hill.
HSCDC didn't see value in urbanism, urban design, and the historic qualities of the neighborhood.
Most of the urban renewal projects they and the city undertook had a distinct suburban character which seriously diminished the ability of the area to revive on city appropriate terms.
Eventually, the market righted itself despite the CDC, and it was supplanted by for profit actors.
Photo of rowhouses on the 1100 block of 8th Street NE by Elise Bernard.
(I joke that my involvement in urban revitalization was a form of "blowback" against the H Street CDC. I was spurred to figure out why, despite upwards of $150 million in projects and new development and proximity to Union Station, Downtown, and the US Capitol and Capitol Hill, the neighborhood still languished.)
Similarly, the Federal Government's response to coronavirus has been a disaster.
The only thing that has separated the US from the UK in its similarly disastrous response--if the US had the rate of death of the UK, instead of about 100,000 deaths at this point, we'd have about 185,000--is the ability of states to act independently of the federal government.
By contrast, local and regional authorities in "England" lack this capability (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Island have devolved powers and do act independently on many dimensions).
Of course, this is like the Republican Party taking credit for the end of slavery--this happened 155 years ago--in an attempt to whitewash all the negative things it does today, such as voter suppression targeting the African-American community ("America’s Relentless Suppression of Black Voters," The New Republic).
Although yes, Joe Biden ("Joe Biden's 'white kids' gaffe, and why his slip-ups matter," Washington Post) is hardly the best possible herald the Democratic Party can put up against Donald Trump, in general, or for African Americans ("Black Americans are in an abusive relationship with the Democratic party," Guardian).Vice President @JoeBiden ‘s latest quote is both pathetic & hurtful. Challenging millions on their blackness is condescending. The GOP was started to oppose slavery. I have the right to think and vote for myself along with all other Americans, including black Americans. pic.twitter.com/RRURX1eMbY— John James (@JohnJamesMI) May 22, 2020
That being said, Biden and Trump are in no way equivalent. It does matter who gets elected, as the families of the 100,000 dead from the coronavirus can attest.