Donkeys in Detroit? DNC Considers Motor City for 2016

The Democratic National Committee asked fifteen cities to submit proposals to host its 2016 convention, and among the obvious contenders one is raising eyebrows: Detroit, Mich.

Conventions bring more than passionate partisans in funny hats. When delegates descend, they bring with them millions of dollars in revenue. (And occasionally some really awful pick up lines. A GOP delegate in New York tried to get me excited by saying, “Ester? That’s an old-fashioned name. I like old-fashioned women.”) Sometimes they revitalize the local sex industry! It can be a big deal to a struggling metropolis.

Is Detroit ready for a moment in the sun? It is, um, officially bankrupt: “Detroit filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in July 2013,” which is a complicated and intriguing process for a city. Deep anger and mistrust in the streets sometimes churn into violence, as in this heartbreaking story of a suburban driver who hit a city child and, contra Tom Wolfe, stopped to help, only to get beaten unconscious by furious onlookers. A retired nurse, who was already helping the child, is credited with also saving the driver’s life.

The story only illustrates how fraught and combustible the situation is in Motor City:

Under a new police chief, the Detroit Police Department has reported a decrease in property crimes in the first quarter of 2014 of 28 percent over a year ago, and a 15 percent drop in violent crimes. But crime remains a pervasive worry, and many Detroiters said they felt obliged to keep weapons.

Detroit also recently made news, though, for its energetic art scene, which is helping to revitalize at least parts of the downtown (“this provocative 21st-Century renaissance happening in Detroit is not fancy, and it’s not cradled with money. It’s about ingenuity and hard work”). Writers can apply to get free houses. Thanks to the resilience and creativity of its residents, and some newcomers, it is being called an Art City of the Future. That’s progress the DNC should be proud to support.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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