Wither American City: Change and Hope for Urban Areas?

Wither American City: Change and Hope for Urban Areas?

It’s election day in Philadelphia. And Diana Lind is not voting. Read on to find out why.

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For my weekly post, I was going to write about an interesting article I read in USA Today: “Modern suburbia not just in America anymore.” The article talks about gated communities outside shanty towns of Buenos Aires, Spanish Revival stucco houses near Beijing, and India’s growing middle class. Instead of learning from America’s mistakes, these developing countries are looking to our suburbia in the hopes of re-creating the American dream in their own backyards. Sure, the article comments on the scientists and researchers trying to persuade other countries to go greener, but the United States comes off like a pathetic parent pleading “Do as I say! Not as I do!” The article is worthy of discussion, but as I biked to work this morning, I realized—wait, there’s a Democratic primary being held in my city!

I just moved to Philadelphia a month ago. I’m not registered here and can’t vote today. I have allegiances, but I’m not going to share them with you. That being said, I’m incredibly interested to see what happens when the numbers come in tonight—and not just because Pennsylvania has the chance of deciding the Democratic nominee.

What ever happened to Michael Nutter’s request for a debate on urban issues? Tragically, nothing. As Carrie Budoff Brown has reported on Politico, urban issues got the short shrift during the recent debate in the city. Here she posits reasons why:

“Back [in the 1960s and ’70s] the Democratic and Republican platforms went on at great length about urban issues. Now that more voters live in suburbs and exurbs — and since big cities have become almost monolithically Democratic — the more competitive and vote-rich areas miles outside urban cores reap the lion’s share of attention from candidates.”

I agree with some of this reasoning, but cities are definitely not monolithically Democratic. Northeastern and West Coast cities are, sure. But what about everywhere in between? Cities in Texas? Cities in New Mexico? Cities in Ohio? Cities in Kentucky? Rewind to 2004, and take a look at an old New York Times interactive graphic to see where cities went red.

According to some estimates, 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas—the lack of attention to issues of infrastructure, mass transit, environmentalism, and poverty is alarming.

Anyone out there have other ideas of why Democrats are ignoring cities?

Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

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Tags: philadelphia

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