The Monthly Memo — March Edition


The Death of the Democratic Party?

In this month's article for The Federalist I argue that the Democratic Party is facing extinction. Hillary Clinton's upset loss in November finally put the nail in the coffin of the "demographic destiny" theory. Her defeat also threw into contrast the deficiencies of the Democratic coalition assembled for President Obama's two electoral victories and demonstrated that the fissures in the party run deeper than we assumed pre-election day. The party now faces a choice:

The debate among Democrats now is how far left to go, or whether to come back to the middle. There isn’t yet much of a consensus (although if Tom Perez’s election to DNC chair means anything, the party is feeling compelled to go wide), but pushing even more left will lead to the death of the Democratic Party as we know it, even if it’s replacement retains the name.

Assuming the party fails to course correct, which is well within the realm of possibility, it will inevitably become filled with progressive candidates and a base eager to vote them into office. Conservatives sometimes joke that there isn’t much of a difference between a Democrat and a progressive to begin with, but in reality the key difference is that progressives follow the policies of American liberalism to its logical conclusions. Under progressivism, liberal openness to charter schools becomes a doubled-down commitment to failed public education and its unions, religious liberty compromises become government-coerced mandates, popular restrictions on abortion become a hill to die on for unlimited abortion rights, and Supreme Court appointments hinge on the mood of the day. Of course, Democrats and liberals already spar with the right over these issues. But as a whole the party has not completely moved away from its foundations.

Read more at The Federalist.

Two Ways of Addressing Chicago's Violence

Chicago consistently makes headlines for it's shootings and murder rate. President Trump has even jumped on the Chicago-is-a-war zone rhetoric a number of times and has threatened/promised to "send in the feds" to quell the violence on the South Side. But what would sending in the feds look like, and are there other options? In the Chicago Tribune John Kass floats an idea from former Cook County and federal prosecutor Bob Milan and former deputy U.S. Marshal Jim Smith. In Chicago Magazine Whet Moser counters with his own proposal modeled on Bogotá, Colombia. 


Federalize the National Guard.

Close off easy access and exits to the most violent neighborhoods, leaving the guard at a limited number of checkpoints from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to cut down drive-by shootings.

And flood the zones with local police and federal law enforcement officers.

The bad guys involved in drive-by shootings would have nowhere to run. And with law enforcement flooding a zone, the gangs wouldn't be making any money from drug sales...

Sound draconian? Yes. But what does more than 4,000 shootings and more than 700 homicides last year sound like? So far this year, it's been even more violent.

Read more at The Chicago Tribune


Bogotá, Colombia, long notorious for its violence, took basically the opposite approach. And its homicide rate declined from 81 per 100,000 in 1993 (about twice as high as Baltimore in 2015) to 17.6 in 2015 (higher than Chicago in 2015, lower than in 2016). It still has a lot of crime problems—lots of muggings, pickpocketing, and assaults, a relatively high homicide rate by American standards—but the city’s efforts in lowering its homicide rate over two decades have been impressive, closely watched, and compared favorably to the use of the military in Brazilian cities.

Bogotá’s approach was remarkably broad, extending well beyond policing, combining and sticking with a a variety of programs.

Read the entire article at Chicago Magazine

Prime Cut
The best of the best

Christopher Knight was only 20 years old when he walked away from society, not to be seen again for more than a quarter of a century. He had been working for less than a year installing home and vehicle alarm systems near Boston, Massachusetts, when abruptly, without giving notice to his boss, he quit his job. He never even returned his tools. He cashed his final pay cheque and left town.

Knight did not tell anyone where he was going. “I had no one to tell,” he says. “I didn’t have any friends. I had no interest in my co-workers.” He drove down the east coast of America, eating fast food and staying in cheap motels – “the cheapest I could find”. He travelled for days, alone, until he found himself deep into Florida, sticking mostly to major roads, watching the world go by.

Eventually, he turned around and headed north. He listened to the radio. Ronald Reagan was president; the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had just occurred. Driving through Georgia and the Carolinas and Virginia, blessed with invincibility of youth, buzzed by “the pleasure of driving”, he sensed an idea growing into a realisation, then solidifying into resolve.

All his life, he had been comfortable being alone. Interacting with others was so often frustrating. Every meeting with another person seemed like a collision.

He drove north to Maine, where he had grown up. There aren’t many roads in the centre of the state, and he chose the one that went right by his family’s house. “I think it was just to have one last look around, to say goodbye,” he said. He didn’t stop. The last time he saw his family home was through the windscreen of his car.

Into the Woods: How One Man Survived Alone in the Wilderness for 27 Yearsfrom The Guardian