Do Republicans Hate Cities?

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

2 minute read

October 8, 2012, 6:00 AM PDT

By Chris Steins @planetizen


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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012 in The New York Times

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Delivery drone holding a brown paper wrapped box hoveringin air with city in background.

Utah Establishes Air Mobility Framework

The program outlines a statewide approach to delivery drones and other air transportation options.

15 minutes ago - PR Newswire

Amtrak train at Union Station with Chicago skyline in background.

St. Paul-to-Chicago Borealis Rail Line Launches

The Amtrak service, 12 years in the making, doubles the number of available trips on the corridor.

1 hour ago - Route Fifty

Three men riding recumbent bikes on paved greenway next to bayou with Houston skyline in background.

Houston Developers Question Mayor’s Stance on Pedestrian Projects

The new mayor’s reversal of road safety projects, some already underway or completed, is raising eyebrows among developers who say residents want walkable, mixed-use streets.

3 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.