A Conservative Argument for Conservatives to Support New Urbanism

A prominent conservative blogger cites James Howard Kunstler, Edmund Burke, and Joan Didion in making the case for New Urbanist ideals of place, despite the stigma in conservative circles.
July 10, 2014, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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According to Matt K. Lewis, "these days America seems to assume that conservatives, if they must live near a city, will seek to buy the biggest house with the longest commute they can possibly afford and endure, and buy the biggest, least fuel-efficient car to take them there. And you know what? Based on our choices, it's pretty clear that we conservatives believe this, too."

Lewis recently interviewed two New Urbanists, Sid Burgess and Kerry S. Decke (the former a self-professed "Coolidge Republican," the latter a tea partier), who explain how they resolve their staunch conservative ideals with the tenants of New Urbanism—like walkability, mixed use, and narrow streets, among others.

"Burgess tells me he came to support New Urbanism after he heard James Howard Kuntsler's 2004 Ted Talk. During the presentation, Kuntsler showed slides of urban and suburban sprawl, and then declared: 'These are places that are not worth caring about [and] when we have enough of them, we're going to have a nation that's not worth defending.'"

Then there's the anti-regulation viewpoint that should take offense at many of the ways the suburbs were built: "Ironically, government regulation (the tax code, zoning, a federally financed highway system, and so on) helps explain America's post-WWII push for sprawl. What is more interesting, though, is that conservatives so readily embraced this modern fad as being tantamount to the American Dream."

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Published on Thursday, July 10, 2014 in The Week
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