The Flint Blame Game
Who is “really” responsible for this once-proud city’s awful predicament?
For the past few weeks, liberals have sought to blame Republican governor Rick Snyder for the lead contamination plaguing Flint, Michigan’s municipal water supply. In office since 2011, Snyder has publicly expressed concern, declared an emergency, activated the National Guard to help distribute bottled water, filters, and test kits, and asked the state legislature for $28 million in emergency funding to address the situation. But some on the left are demanding a villain, and ritual vilification. Thus, in her closing statement at the last presidential debate, Hillary Clinton expressed outrage (and urged “every single American” to be similarly outraged) at Snyder’s supposed indifference to the plight of Flint residents, even suggesting, risibly, that the governor would have handled the matter differently if the residents were affluent and white instead of “poor in many ways and majority African-American.” Bernie Sanders went further and called on Snyder to resign.
This is nonsense, and all the caterwauling is simply the Left’s standard narrative in matters of municipal mismanagement. The essential facts are undisputed. While waiting for a new, long-planned pipeline to Lake Huron to be completed, in 2014 Flint began using the Flint River—previously used for short periods as a backup—as the primary water source for city residents. Though the river water itself was not tainted, without proper treatment it was corrosive enough to leach lead and other heavy metals from Flint’s aging pipes, which caused residents to be exposed to high lead levels. Remarkably, this contamination went undetected for 18 months. Some children in Flint exposed during that time have tested positive for lead, a potent neurotoxin. The city has now switched back to the previous (safe) water source, and state officials are conducting testing and distributing filters, but beleaguered Flint residents understandably remain alarmed—and uncertain of who to blame.
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