Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Republicans and cities: Ill-starred romance?

From Wikipedia.com
With a graphic that mimicked the famous 1975 New York Daily News headline: "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD" the last Sunday's New York Times Review section had this headline: "REPUBLICANS TO CITIES: DROP DEAD." It topped an article headlined "How the GOP Became the Anti-Urban Party."

"The fact is that cities don’t count anymore — at least not in national Republican politics. The very word “city” went all but unheard at the Republican convention, held in the rudimentary city of Tampa, Fla.," wrote Kevin Baker, author of the "City of Fire" series of historical novels.

To be fair, he also notes this about the Democratic presidential campaign: "There wasn’t so much as a mention of cities in the debate on domestic issues the presidential candidates had last week. Nor did the Democrats have much to say about cities at their convention in Charlotte, N.C." At least he didn't call Charlotte a "rudimentary city."

Are Republicans anti-city? If so,why, and if not, why not? Not a few political observers have noted, for instance, that in North Carolina, Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte, is running ads that mention he was mayor but neglect to say he was mayor of Charlotte, the state's largest city. [Mike Collins, host of WFAE's "Charlotte Talks" radio show this morning asked McCrory about that, during an interview. McCrory said about half his ads mention Charlotte and said there isn't much time in some ads to say very much.]

Obviously, there is anti-Charlotte sentiment in some parts of North Carolina, and in my observation it's not so much a Republican-Democrat thing as a rural-urban thing and as Charlotte is blessed with a robust and bipartisan phalanx of boosters who display great zest for their city a "We don't like braggers" thing.

What should the candidates be saying about cities? Weigh in below, if you have thoughts.

(Note: I moderate comments for obscenity, insults, lack of civility, etc., but not for the opinions expressed. So if your comment doesn't instantly appear, please don't be discouraged. )


Anonymous said...

I agree that the anti-city bias _was_ more a product of rural domination of the state power structure. I am however alarmed that we are developing a growing partisan bias against cities in state politics.

The anti-city republicans are largely suburban (see Rick Killian or Robert Pittenger for examples)and see urban areas as resource drains on their suburban constituents. This belief appears to be a product of 1)partisanship and 2)a misunderstanding of city-suburb interdependence.

The city-suburb political divide was never a big deal in NC thanks to annexation (and old line Southern progressiveism). But if this divide continues to grow I fear it will prevent us from moving past the era of sprawl.

tarhoosier said...

If you look at the 2008 election map by county you see that Obama took the counties of the cities even in states that went to McCain. Texas: Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso. Utah (UTAH!) Salt Lake City. Columbia SC. Kansas City Kansas. Bton Rouge and New Orleans Louisana, Litle Rock Arkansas. And on and on.
Republicans to cities: Meh!


Patrick said...

"rudimentary city"? OUCH.

Anyway, I've always felt like folks that live in cities tend to lean left for the simple reason that they have to deal with other people (especially those who may not look like them) and share resources more conspicuously.

It's easier in suburban and rural areas to be isolated (by choice or by design) and have your own personal echo chamber.

Anonymous said...

I read the NYT articles and it hits a number of points, namely that candidates will increasingly need "..to vie for votes in a manner that reflects urban realities instead of fantastical theories."

As for what candidates should be saying about cities, they should recognize that voters, especially those under 40, want CHANGE and CHOICES. Changes in policies for housing (equalize renting with owning), transportation (creating real CHOICES for getting around, not just driving/car ownership) and taxes (get rid of fuel taxes, go to a vehicle-miles-traveled, VMT fee) are three areas that affect cities.

Read these two articles and you'll get a much clearer picture of the future electorate than any talking head on TV can convey. As a 34-year old urbanite (in-town Charlotte), the NC gubenatorial and US presidential candidates need to understand and balance the gray nuances of urban residents with the sometimes black/white divides on issues of suburban and rural voters.



Dustin, New York City said...

They should be talking about the fact that nearly 91% of the GDP is produced in metro areas. The economic output of the nation's 10 largest urban areas is greater than the combined output of 35 states and the District of Columbia ($5.14 trillion vs. $4.86 trillion in 2011). Thus, to increase economic growth, federal investment should be concentrated in urban areas and on urban infrastructure.

Check out this series of reports from The United States Conference of Mayors to learn more about what I'm talking about: http://usmayors.org/metroeconomies.

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