Monday, May 28, 2007

How To Re-Populate Detroit: Checks and Balances by Akindele Akinyemi

As we look to the way forward as conservatives, one fact is paramount: urban conservatism is about vastly more than Detroit. The history of the modern urban conservative movement was written in cities and communities and in citizen activism. Some of the highlights:

The urban conservative movement offers us a clear way forward today: To renew, revitalize and relaunch the movement of DuBois, Washington and building Urban Regional Networks we must concentrate our energies on all urban elected offices in Michigan, not just the city of Detroit. We need a movement far beyond Southwest Detroit. The Mayor's office by itself is incapable of moving to a more conservative Detroit.

What’s more, the current consultant and money dominated presidential campaign process is particularly ill-suited to moving conservatism forward. The consultant class requirement that presidential campaigns begin two years before the voting guarantees that by the time a candidate gets into office her or she is two years out of touch with reality and those who live here in Detroit. Promises in February 2007 can’t accurately predict performance in February 2009.

In addition to focusing on more than the presidency and presidential politics, four other points are critical to the future of conservatism.

First, Detroit conservatism at its best has been about shaping a future based on freedom. We should be the future oriented movement. Our responsibility is to define a better future, and not just for some Detroiters but for all Detroiters. We cannot ignore the moral challenge of those who are living here in Detroit who have been left out of the American dream.

Second, urban conservatism in Detroit at its best has always been focused on individuals, families and communities, not government. Most urban conservatives in Detroit have to relearn a core principle of politics that issues must be addressed in a personal context first and only later in the historical and lastly, in the political context. The first questions we must always ask ourselves are: What will we do to help the Detroit citizen? How are our solutions relevant to your life? This is not a formula for bigger bureaucracy. It is a formula for better policies.

Third, we are on the verge of extraordinary opportunities to dramatically improve public policies here in the City of Detroit. Below are the seven principles of creating Detroit solutions to help win the future:

  1. There will be four-to-seven times as much new scientific knowledge in the next twenty-five years as in the last twenty-five years.
  2. There is a customer market and values system which leads to dramatic change and innovation.
  3. Pragmatism changing things now, to get things done is the classic American philosophy.
  4. There are systems of productivity that are very powerful such as the Toyota production system, Six Sigma, the quality principles of Deming and Juran, the management principles of Peter Drucker, and concept of lean manufacturing.
  5. Historic Detroit culture simply works: the work ethic, courage, individual initiative, responsibility, team work, energetic effort, saving and investing, recognizing and rewarding achievement, having high expectations.
  6. Insist that everyone be included and that a “new birth of freedom” (in Lincoln’s words) extends to every Detroiter.
  7. You have a lot to contribute to your family, your life, and your community.
Fourth, urban conservatism in Detroit at its best has always understood that the citizens of Detroit have to force change on Lansing. Lansing will not change itself. The Lansing environment is pro-government, pro-liberal, and pro-elite. Detroit, on the other hand, are pro-God, pro-English, however, pro-bureaucracy. We change this by educating our people about the benefits of reducing bureaucracy to streamline effective government.

  • 91 percent of all Detroiters support the right to say “One nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • The Rasmussen poll reported that support for English as the official language was 85%. The Zogby poll had it at 84%.
  • Detroiters believes that 51 percent of all city spending is waste. So by definition, any politician advocating a tax increase is advocating wasting more of Detroit's money.

Here at One Network we are making an attempt to deliberate a new effort to renew, revitalize and relaunch an urban conservative movement by going back to its source: the citizen activist, communities and states that built the urban conservative movement here in Detroit.

The premise of One Network is that politics as usual – focusing on what is wrong with the Left rather than what we can do for the city – will not bring about change. We have to take the proven principles of urban conservatism and translate them into bold solutions. We need to build an urban movement outside the status quo based on these bold solutions. Then and only then will we force 21st century change here in Detroit.

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