Thursday, January 24, 2013

Republicans and the Urban Vote

Don't give up the urban vote, Republicans, writes urban expert Edward L. Glaeser.  Think of all the wonderful things that Republicans have done for the cities!
  • Richard Nixon moved cities from public housing to housing vouchers.
  • Cities are safer because of Republican backed community policing policies like CompStat.
  • Republicans have championed school choice and accountability.
  • Republicans have led in opening municipal services to private competition.
And so on.  So why does the Republican Party work on merely "winning suburban and rural votes and has stopped reaching out to city dwellers"?

I'll tell you why.  Because people take those housing vouchers for granted and know that Democrats will give them more.  They don't give a damn about better policing: the urban professionals buy into the activist liberal notion that the police are a bunch of lowlifes and the minorities think the police are out to get them.  The urban minorities have shown in e.g., Washington DC, that they regard schools as more of a jobs program than an education program.  And as for municipal privatization, I'll bet that most urbanites think about city jobs as their job-for-life birthright rather than an area for efficiency.

The only way the cities will come over to the Republicans is if and when they decide that the Democrats have screwed them over royally.  Until then, it's a cultural thing.  Urban people belong to urban tribes that define themselves in opposition to the unhip, responsible, racist-sexist-bigoted Republicans.

And anyway, Republicans benefit from the current situation, as Sean Trende points out.  Democrats are concentrated in: uber-liberal districts, like Seattle's 7th Congressional District with its 600,000 liberal hearts beating as one; and majority-minority districts, like Washington State's brand new 9th District with 50.3 or so percent racial minorities.

Until the the day of judgment, Republicans need to sharpen their message to the ordinary non-urban, non-liberal, non-identity-obsessed American.  Because there's a good chance that in 2016 that kind of American voter will be thinking and acting on the idea that it is "time for a change."

That's how politics works.  The politician knows that he cannot win the votes of people that define themselves in opposition to him, however he might have helped them.  But he can work on the waverers.

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