Friday, October 29, 2010

D.C. Disconnect: Urban Policy Forced On a Suburban Nation

Uber-geographer Joel Kotkin has another must-read column out.  His piece titled "Suburban Nation, But Urban Policies" was picked up by Politico.

His piece accomplishes many things.  It has lessons for D.C. and for Columbus.

It explains, in a nutshell, what appears poised to happen on November 2nd.  The Democrats are likely going to lose majority control of the House of Representatives and many gubernatorial seats this mid-term election.  Kotkin blames it on urban policies that ignored the demographic and geographic reality that we are a suburban nation.  Most every Obama Administration initiative of a high-profile nature has been urban-focused.

Kotkin rightly notes that Obama didn't win election on urban votes alone.  Nor did Bill Clinton.  Indeed, the surprise suburban votes are what gave them presidential victories.

Kotkin didn't cite it, but Ohio Governor Strickland, should he lose Tuesday as many polls predict, can probably look at this election the same way.  He won in 2006 on suburban votes.  His policies, though, have been more urban-focused.

It explains the stimulus (aka ARRA) failure.  Kotkin cites that only 10% of suburbanites think the stimulus worked while 33% think it hurt the economy.  The rest, at best, think it did nothing.

It explains why SmartGrowth policies are likely to fade away in 2011 and beyond.  Policies that attempt to impose density when the will of the public is suburban living are an albatross for the policy makers.  No one can be that dense.  Lesson learned.

Keep writing Joel Kotkin.  Keep writing.

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