How Mass Transit Became a Focus of the Culture Wars

Delving into the psychology behind the House transportation bill, Will Doig investigates the reasons why the Tea Party have turned their attention to mass transit as the next culture war battleground.
February 15, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While couching their policy goals in economic terms (a premise which Doig debunks), Republican extremists are seeking to starve mass transit by cutting off its steady source of funding, and thus delivering a fatal blow to urban life across the country.

According to Doig, "Defunding transit is how you smack down urbanites, environmentalists, and people of color, all in one fell swoop. It's how you telegraph a disdain for all things European. It's how you show solidarity with swing-state suburbanites who don't understand why their taxes are going toward subways they don't even use. And it's how you subtly reassure your base that you're not concerned about the very poor."

Republicans are increasingly moving from ignoring cities, were GOP votes are often hard to find, to openly bashing urbanites to rally their base, writes Doig.

"When they tar Nancy Pelosi as a San Francisco liberal, or Barack Obama as a Chicago politician, they're not just referencing those cities' stereotypes. They're referencing the stereotypes of city culture itself: full of swindlers and gays and blacks and other suspect types.....Sarah Palin calling small-town folks "real America" states unequivocally that urbanites aren't real Americans. The offensiveness of that statement still boggles the mind."

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Published on Monday, February 13, 2012 in
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