July 22, 2024

Joe Biden and the Democrats have done a great deal of harm to the country over the past few years on so many issues, including the economy, the border, and crime. Yet, they seem to want to continue to put forward the same failed policies with a faltering leader at the helm who can’t even remember what he says from one moment to the next. 

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It’s become too much for so many people. It’s particularly hit hard in the cities, which suffered deeply from the leftist effort to defund the police and the leftist leadership and prosecutors who refuse to hold criminals accountable for their crimes.

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Now, Eric Johnson, the mayor of one of the largest cities in the country — Dallas — is speaking out and revealing why he’s decided to switch from a Democrat to a Republican in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. 

He says it all in the title, “America’s Cities Need Republicans, and I’m Becoming One.”

Johnson explained how he’d been successful in reducing crime and property taxes in Dallas by adhering to Republican principles. 

I have been mayor of Dallas for more than four years. During that time, my priority has been to make the city safer, stronger and more vibrant. That meant saying no to those who wanted to defund the police. It meant fighting for lower taxes and a friendlier business climate. And it meant investing in family friendly infrastructure such as better parks and trails.

That approach is working. Alone among America’s 10 most populous cities, Dallas has brought violent crime down in every major category, including murder, year-over-year for the past two years. In a recent Gallup poll asking Americans to rate the safety of major cities, Dallas came out on top. We have also reduced our property tax rate every year since I took office, signaling to investors that Dallas intends to remain the nation’s most pro-business city. This philosophy has helped attract growing small businesses and several Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, the construction-engineering firm Aecom and the global commercial real-estate outfit CBRE.

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Johnson said the future of the cities depends on these basic Republican principles.

The future of America’s great urban centers depends on the willingness of the nation’s mayors to champion law and order and practice fiscal conservatism. Our cities desperately need the genuine commitment to these principles (as opposed to the inconsistent, poll-driven commitment of many Democrats) that has long been a defining characteristic of the GOP.

Johnson said most cities haven’t made public safety a priority or practiced “fiscal restraint.” He said too often money is spent on policies that only exacerbate the problems. “Most of these local leaders are proud Democrats who view cities as laboratories for liberalism rather than as havens for opportunity and free enterprise,” Johnson said. Too many insisted on empty “virtue signaling.” 

But he also pointed out why not only did cities need Republicans, Republicans needed the cities. 

In other words, American cities need Republicans—and Republicans need American cities. When my political hero Theodore Roosevelt was born, only 20% of Americans lived in urban areas. By the time he was elected president, that share had doubled to 40%. Today, it stands at 80%. As America’s cities go, so goes America.

An important point — and Republicans have not concentrated on doing anything to challenge leadership in cities. As he shows, you can do that with proper policies that work. He was reelected with more than 90 percent of the vote of those casting ballots. 

Johnson said he recognized this was a challenge given that Republican mayors of the 10 largest cities just went up from zero to one. 

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“But it is clear that the nation and its cities have reached a time for choosing,” Johnson said. 

That says something when a politician has knowledge of history, and appears to be invoking the famous words of Ronald Reagan who also flipped from Democrat to Republican and explained in his famous 1964 speech why it was “a time for choosing.” 

Now that was 1964, the numbers that Reagan references have gotten worse, but it’s fascinating how on target the warning was then as to all that has happened since and how what he says still applies to what’s unfolding now. Indeed, we do have a time for choosing, and as Johnson shows, with effort and commitment you can have success. But other Republicans also have to have the will to step up and accept that challenge. 

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