Do Republicans Hate Cities?

Author Kevin Baker offers a historical perspective of the Republican Party's shift to the "anti-urban party".

Under a mock news headline "Republicans to Cities: Drop Dead", author Kevin Baker offers the indictment that the Republican Party "still can't get seem to get past its animus toward the very idea of urban life."

Looking back to the 1970's, Baker reflects on how Republicans let cities become centers of for the Democratic Party: "For Republicans, cities now became object lessons on the shortcomings of activist government and the welfare state - sinkholes of crime and social dysfunction, where Ronald Reagan's "welfare queens" cavorted in their Cadillacs. The very idea of the city seemed to be a thing of the past, an archaic concept -- so much so that Gerald R. Ford seriously considered letting New York go bankrupt in 1975.

Baker observes that cities were barely mentioned in the Republic convention or by the Republican platform committee, and suggests that the Republican leadership is not, essentially, urban. "Unsurprisingly, the chairman of the Republican platform committee, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, is from a state that has no city with a population of 500,000 or more. One of his two "co-chairmen" was Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, which ranks 47th among the states in population density. The other was Marsha Blackburn, who represents a largely suburban district of Tennessee."

"Republicans may not want to go to the cities. But that doesn't much matter. The cities are coming to them," concludes Baker. Kevin Baker is the author of the City of Fire series of historical novels.

Full Story: How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party

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