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Posts tagged "heartland"

USA is officially a majority conservative nation. Now what? Urban planners such as myself have to interpret Census data in order to make projections for cities we work in. Where will we build? What land should we conserve? How do we attract more business? Should we build more apartments, condos, or suburbs? For the east coast, it looks like we need consolidate, and shrink our cities. The era of No Growth has arrived.

Politically, it seems to me, the middle states will continue looking inward. With traditional shortsightedness, these states will build more sprawling suburbs, spoil their aquifers, and continue to curtail any gains (or potential gains) in the education system. Public services will continue towards for-profit privatization. And the most educated will continue to flee. The outcomes from these trends, of course, are unknown. In a few years, not long from now, I predict that higher demands for electricity and clean water will create some interesting regional infighting. These states will have to look to the coasts for creative planning models and efficiency solutions. And you know what? I’ll be there to help.

Conservatism, at least at the state level, appears to be growing stronger. Ironically, this trend is most pronounced in America’s least well-off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states. Conservatism, more and more, is the ideology of the economically left behind.  The current economic crisis only appears to have deepened conservatism’s hold on America’s states. This trend stands in sharp contrast to the Great Depression, when America embraced FDR and the New Deal.

Liberalism, which is stronger in richer, better-educated, more-diverse, and, especially, more prosperous places, is shrinking across the board and has fallen behind conservatism even in its biggest strongholds. This obviously poses big challenges for liberals, the Obama administration, and the Democratic Party moving forward.

But the much bigger, long-term danger is economic rather than political. This ideological state of affairs advantages the policy preferences of poorer, less innovative states over wealthier, more innovative, and productive ones. American politics is increasingly disconnected from its economic engine.  And this deepening political divide has become perhaps the biggest bottleneck on the road to long-run prosperity.

Source: Richard Florida @ The Atlantic