Urban Culture And The Political Divide

Differing attitudes toward growth characterise America's political boundaries.
January 8, 2004, 10am PST | Abhijeet Chavan | @legalaidtech
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This exposé of the American political map compares and contrasts a leading democratic district in San Francisco with a resolutely republican one in western Illinois. Some of the most contrasting differences are found in attitudes toward land use and growth: San Francisco "has grown in size over the years without losing its human scale," whereas new developments and "all the accoutrements of suburban boom time" characterise the Illinois district. San Francisco is "both higher- and lower-class" whereas Illinois is "as resolutely middle-class as it is cheerfully mid-American." Other big differences lie in the relative importance attached to family life and in the general political cultures of the two districts. But America's growth is coming from districts like the Illinois 14th. The proportion of Americans living in suburbs has more than doubled in the last fifty years, and according to Joel Kotkin of Pepperdine University, "57% of office space in the country and over 90% of new office building" is in suburbia. What these trends augur for the future is debatable, but "there seems little doubt that it [America] will become more conservative, and less cosmopolitan."

Thanks to Zvi Leve

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Published on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 in The Economist
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