The stunning election of Donald Trump as president throws the future of urban policy into doubt. During the campaign he promised to bring new jobs and improved infrastructure to the inner cities, but so far he has furnished no details. Some of the strategies carried out by cities and states in the past may offer the incoming administration some guidance.
The Big Sort
Written by The Economic Development CurmudgeonBishop et al, the older socio-political pattern of population mobility, based around decisions involving land, family, class, tradition and religious denomination (all of which, I guess, could be crammed into the Tiebout model) has drastically changed with massively huge consequences.People seemingly are making mobility decisions based on individual preferences, not group socialization patterns. But, for the Big Sort, the choice decision is not economic in its roots. It is almost psychological rooted in notions of individual and personal comfortability. Today, when we move we seek out "our own kind" who pray in like-minded churches, sleep in like-minded neighborhoods, and play using like-minded sources of news and entertainment.... (P.39) Conformity reduces stress and for most of us proximity to those who think and live differently creates discomfort. The key to understanding the new, post-1965 mobility is that residential mobility is dominated by "an element of personal discretion". Certainly, people still moved to find good jobs, excellent schools, and safe neighborhoods as they have in the past, but an expanding economy increasing prosperity, rising levels of education, and the breakdown of older social groupings (i.e. family) has allowed for more personal choice and discretion into the decision of where to move and how to live. People, at least of a certain level of income, can choose communities based on aspirational lifestyles and esthetics. In this new world, "amenities became more important .... Americans could move to places that reinforced their identities, where they could find comfort among others like themselves. These weren't political choices, but they had political consequences. (P. 41-42).Clustered into communities of like-mindedness, the institutions within these homogeneous communities evolved to share the values, aspriations and mirror the political and ideological preferences of their members and neighbors.As a result of this sorting, most counties zoomed off in partisan directions. Between 1976 and 2004, the gap between the parties increased in 2085 counties (3100 counties); only 1026 counties (33%) grew more competitive. (P.44) .... In 2004, one third of U.S. voters lived in counties that had remained unchanged in their presidential party preference since 1968. Just under half lived in counties that hadn't changed since 1980, 60% lived in counties that hadn't changed since 1988 and nearly 73% lived in counties that hadn't changed since 1992. (P.45) Lifestyle segregation led to political segregation and political segregation created safe, extremely conformistic, congressional districts and safe constituencies for presidential elections.Republican and Democratic counties, however, were very different. With lower levels of education, higher levels of church participation, racially-closed, immigrant-resistent geographies became Republican. And, "Many more people moved to Republican landslide counties than to Democratic landslide counties, but they were considerably poorer, earning on average only three-quarters of the income of migrants to Democratic landslide counties. (P.56) The now accepted, but still unspoken paradox is that Democratic landslide communities were either more wealthy, highly educated, professional occupations OR Hispanic or racial minorities.Why is all this stuff happening? Bishop argues that since 1965 or so we have incrementally evolved into a "post-materialism culture".With few aware of, and with nobody's permission, a new kind of politics was gradually formed after 1965. The post-World War II moderate society shattered in the mid-1960's and the forces that remade its replacement culture piece by piece, created the world we know today. The new politics was molded by Inglehart's post-materialist realities. The new society was more about personal taste and worldview than attachment of any specific public policy. It was much or more concerned with self-expression, aspirations and personal belief than with social-economic class issues and perspectives. (P.103-104) For Bishop and the Big Sort, the crucial faultline which divides American cultures (and hence geography) is religion. For Bishop et al, the older socio-political pattern of population mobility, based around decisions involving land, family, class, tradition and religious denomination (all of which, I guess, could be crammed into the Tiebout model) has drastically changed with massively huge consequences. Bishop et al, the older socio-political pattern of population mobility, based around decisions involving land, family, class, tradition and religious denomination (all of which, I guess, could be crammed into the Tiebout model) has drastically changed with massively huge consequences. Continue Reading...