Friday, November 05, 2004

The Urban Strategy

Forget the South. Forget the Mid-West. For that matter, forget the Pacific Coast, Southwest, Northeast, and New England. Forget them all. Playing the maps of American super-regions and states will make certain that Democrats lose every time.

I have been staring at this map of voting results by county. On the surface it looks more bleak that the states map: vast spaces of Republican red barely penetrated by blobs of Democrat blue.

I have stared at the counties map a lot, trying to figure it out. It shows where Democrats have their strength: areas along borders, urban networks, maritime ports. Almost all of their victories came from urban counties. The most surprising result for me was all the blue that surrounds the Mississippi River.

The counties map might tell of dwindling influence, but it also shows a clear advantage. Those blue spots produced almost as many votes as all that red. They are cities and their regions. It might be useful for the Democratic Party to concentrate on its urban politics (economic development, safety and policing, anti-terrorism) as a means of attacking many places at once. Furthermore, they should not limit planning to the cities themselves, but to their suburbs as well. Get people to realize that they have a stake in the health of their nearby metropolis.


At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But... you're not suggesting that they should simply ignore rural voters, are you? Yep, it's a good thing for a party to concentrate on its strengths, focus its resources etc. This is a strategy that might well work in terms of getting power, but wouldn't it leave the rural populations even more alienated from the Democrats? I find that a worrying idea.


At 3:39 PM, Blogger Nathanael said...

Hey Sharon,

Ignore rural voters? In the short term, the Dems should consider it. The problem is that rural voters are already alienated by the left. I have read a few things since posting this entry in which Republicans have declared victory over the degenerate cities. (This anti-urban discourse reminds me of European cultural politics one hundred years ago. If America is approaching its Dreyfus moment, I am not sure it will preserce civil rights.)

I guess I am saying that it is fruitless for the Dems to campaign for rural votes. (Properly speaking, some of these areas are not really rural--they are exurban). The party should continue to pursue policies that preserve rural spaces, but they should use the policy to bridge the rural and urban together. What does this mean? I don't know yet. But the alienation between the two is ruinous.

At 3:16 AM, Blogger Joel said...

The county-by-county election map conjures up for me the positions of the German Siebenbürgen in the Transylvanian countryside, or other castle towns in other medieval landscapes. Are those blue spots ivory towers inhabited by a separate nobler race, or are they vital marketplaces of mutual benefit to peasants, artisans, clerics, and nobles--as well as vital strongholds for defense? The Democrats would do better to emphasize the latter, and play down their fear and loathing of those who live outside the walls. The DLC needs to recapture my old party from irresponsible Hollywood and Ivory Tower aristocrats. I don't want urbane castle towns to be replaced by fortified sectarian monasteries.


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