It Wasn't Rural 'Hicks' Who Elected Trump: The Suburbs Were -- And Will Remain -- The Real Battleground
Much of the New York and Washington press corps has concluded that Donald Trump’s surprising journey to the Oval Office was powered by country bumpkins expressing their inner racist misogyny. However, the real foundations for his victory lie not in the countryside and small towns, but in key suburban counties.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was based on the notion that he could “Make America Great Again.” But beyond the rhetoric — sometimes lurching into demagoguery — the newly elected president comes to office, as one commentator suggests, “the least policy-savvy president in history.”
One obvious, if little discussed, reason the progressive wave receded last week: The left’s increasingly unappealing economic agenda. In the past, progressives focused on improving conditions for working and middle class Americans through economic growth, home ownership and expansive infrastructure projects.
America may have trended toward the GOP, but California seems determined to find its own direction. The only question is, simply, how much more progressive the Golden State will become, even in the face of a far more conservative country beyond the Sierras.
She had it all—the pliant media, the tech oligarchs, Wall Street, the property moguls, the academics, and the all-around “smart people.” What Hillary Clinton didn’t have was flyover country, the economic “leftovers,” the small towns, the unhipstered suburbs, and other unfashionable places. As Thomas Frank has noted, Democrats have gone “from being the party of Decatur to the party of Martha’s Vineyard.” No surprise, then, that working- and middle-class voters went for Donald Trump and helped him break through in states—Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa—that have usually gone blue in recent presidential elections.
n an election so ugly and so close, one is reluctant to proclaim winners. But it’s clear that there’s a loser — the very notion of the United States of America.
Instead we have populations and geographies that barely seem to belong in the same country, if not on the same planet. The electorate is so divided that many states went for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton by lopsided margins. The Northeast was solidly Democratic, with Clinton winning New York, Massachusetts and Vermont with three-fifths of the vote or more. Washington, D.C., heavily black and the seat of the bureaucracy and pundit class, delivered an almost Soviet-style 93% to 4% margin.
Can the party of oligarchy also be the party of the people? Besides fending off the never-ending taint of corruption, which could weaken the extent of her “mandate,” this may prove the central challenge of a Hillary Clinton regime.
Joel Kotkin swears he doesn’t hate cities—it’s just that most urbanists have a misguided perspective on them. Why focus on city centers, where populations tend to be too young, poor, and transient to invest in property or politics?
When Americans consider a move to another part of the country, they sometimes are forced to make a tough choice: should they go to a city with the best job opportunities, or a less economically vital area that offers a better standard of living, particularly more affordable housing? However, there are still plenty of metropolitan areas in the U.S. where you can get the best of both worlds.
From Southern California to Shanghai and London, inflated real estate prices have evolved into a simulacrum for broader prosperity. In an era of limited income gains, growing inequality, political dysfunction and fading productivity, the conjunction of low interest rates and essentially free money for the rich and well-placed has sparked the construction of often expensive, high-density residential housing.
It’s increasingly unfashionable to celebrate those who made this republic and established its core values. On college campuses, the media and, increasingly, in corporate circles, the embrace of “diversity” extends to demeaning the founding designers who arose from a white population that was 80 percent British.
The consumer technology boom, largely responsible for a resurgence in California’s economy after the tech wreck of 2001, seems to be coming to an end. The signs are widespread: slowing employment, layoffs from bell-weather social media companies, the almost embarrassing difficulty of finding buyers for Twitter, the absorption of Yahoo by Verizon and the acquisition by Microsoft of LinkedIn.
For progressives, the gloating is about to begin. The Washington Monthly proclaims that we are on the cusp of a “second progressive era,” where the technocratic “new class” overcomes a Republican Party reduced to “know-nothing madness.”
To be sure, Trump himself proved a mean-spirited and ultimately ineffective political vessel. But the forces that he aroused will outlive him and could get stronger in the future. In this respect Trump may reprise the role played another intemperate figure, the late Senator Barry Goldwater.
What comes to mind when you think about Orange County? Probably, images of lascivious housewives and blonde surfers. And certainly, at least if you know your political history, crazed right-wing activists, riding around with anti-UN slogans on their bumpers in this county that served as a crucial birthplace of modern movement conservatism in the 1950s.
Politicians, housing advocates, planners and developers often blame the NIMBY — “not in my backyard” — lobby for the state’s housing crisis. And it’s true that some locals overreact with unrealistic growth limits that cut off any new housing supply and have blocked reasonable ways to boost supply.
But the biggest impediment to solving our housing crisis lies not principally with neighbors protecting their local neighborhoods, but rather with central governments determined to limit, and make ever more expensive, single-family housing. Economist Issi Romem notes that, based on the past, “failing to expand cities [to allow sprawl] will come at a cost” to the housing market.