City Limits magazine recently completed a review of the 18 presidential candidates' stances on urban issues, and the major news is that there is no news. Most domestic issues, let alone those related to cities, don't even appear on the candidates' -- or the media's -- radar screens. Their article quotes a political scientist who "says 2008 is shaping up as 'yet another gigantic referendum on Bush and Iraq.'" The bright spots? Although Bill Richardson has advocated for greater energy conservation and public transportation, John Edwards has articulated an intriguing plan to end poverty in the U.S. by 2036 and overhaul the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
As planners and most allied professionals know, the federal government lacks cohesive urban and environmental policies, and especially during the tenure of the current Bush administration, there has been a relative lack of investment in cities, public transportation systems, and alternative sources of energy. With the ongoing war in Iraq and perennial issues like social security, healthcare, and immigration dominating the political landscape, important domestic issues like affordable housing, public transit, and compact urban growth seem little more than a microscopic blip on the radar screens of potential 2008 presidential candidates, if they discuss these issues at all.
The sprawl vs. smart growth and New Urbanism debate is far from a black and white issue.
Are the city and the metaphor of the city, as depicted in film and literature, one in the same?