Does Place Matter Anymore? Cities and the 2016 Election

Cities have appeared to figure very little into the presidential election up to now. To get a sense of whether this impression is accurate, I spent some time looking at the two party platforms, and the two candidate's websites.

2 minute read

August 16, 2016, 6:00 AM PDT

By Lisa Monetti


Downtown Palmyra

Ken Lund / Flickr

A detailed look at Democratic and Republican party platforms and candidate websites shows that it’s quite true that cities are being ignore. However, the different ways in which cities don’t seem to matter much to either party sheds an interesting light on the candidates and the parties they do or do not lead. Yes, we all know that platforms are rhetoric, but rhetoric matters--the specifics may be disregarded by whomever wins the election, but the rhetoric sets the tone.

Predictably enough, the Republican platform is a 54-page angry, frustrated rant directed at President Obama, democrats, bureaucrats, big government, anything anyone on the right doesn’t like. It talks far more about rolling back than moving forward. The only reference to cities that I found in the entire document was a thinly veiled call to roll back D.C. home rule, calling on Congress to “assert, by whatever means necessary, its constitutional prerogatives regarding the District” (page 30), although one might add the platform’s denunciation of Obama’s “exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit […] meant to “coerce people out of their cars.” Had I but known.

Hillary’s website (interestingly, on her website she is “Hillary,” while on Trump’s website he is “Trump” or “Mr. Trump,” and never “Donald”) is far heavier on substance. She has detailed positions on 37--yes 37--separate issues from ending Alzheimer’s disease to addressing climate change. That’s a lot of issues, yet the only one that has anything to do with the places where Americans live is about “rural communities.” Nothing about cities, metros, regions, land use, housing. Nothing. And what about the Democratic platform? It’s a . . .

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 in Shelterforce/Rooflines

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