Many are blaming Detroit’s leaders as the source of its abysmal fiscal situation which has resulted in the City seeking protection under U.S. bankruptcy law.
In a Democracy, that explanation doesn’t work. In a Democracy, its citizens elect its leaders. Detroit’s residents elected the individuals that created Detroit’s fiscal crisis. Detroit’s residents are the source of it’s demise. To report otherwise, simply masks the real problem and thus prevents it from being addressed.
Detroit is simply symptomatic of what is happening across the country. Residents aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities as citizens and are electing individuals whose allegiance isn’t to the city but to special interests. The lack of citizen involvement in our country is a quiet epidemic and a threat to our future.
EXAMPLE – In 2011, Detroit residents got to vote whether or not to approve a revised city charter. Approximately 8.5% of registered voters turned out to vote. While the voter turnout numbers for mayoral and city council elections are higher, they are equally dismal. When residents don’t register to vote, when registered voters don’t research the issues and candidates and make decisions on what’s best for the city, and when registered voters don’t vote, special interests fill the void. And when special interest fill the void, municipalities like Detroit end up full of problems – corruption, massive debt, residents leaving, poor public services, real estate values dropping, and on and on.
UPDATE – The turnout for the 2013 Detroit mayoral election was 25% of registered voters. And this low turnout was in a critical time with Detroit under State control and in Bankruptcy Court. And 25% of registered voters probably translates to fewer than 10% of eligible voters.