Conservatives and cities

Kevin Williamson of National Review Online explains why conservatives should not simply write off America’s largest cities as too liberal.

Conservatives do not do well in the cities. We assume, strangely, that this indicates a problem with the cities rather than a problem with . . . us. We may as well be trying to sell New York City and Los Angeles Edsels full of New Coke — and cursing the consumers for being too thick to appreciate what we are offering.

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia — as far as conservatives are concerned, these may as well be so many Sodoms upon which we are all too happy to call down fire and judgment. But it’s not only the coastal dens of sin that we have written off: In Texas — Texas! — Republican office-seekers (a reasonable if imperfect proxy for conservative political tendencies) are largely shut out of the cities: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso — all are reliably Democratic. …

… Americans, in particular the younger ones, don’t seem to be getting the message. The best and brightest of them keep going to the colleges we hate, studying for the professions we hold in suspicion or contempt, and dreaming of moving to cities that we’d be content to see washed into the sea. Republicans do very well with people who drive an F-350 to work — and God bless them. Republicans — and, more important, conservatives — do not seem to have very much to say to people who take the subway to work. Which is a real missed opportunity: If you live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and work in Manhattan, then you get an object lesson in the failures of statism and centralization every damned work day — twice. If you live in Philadelphia and have school-age children, you don’t need to read Milton Friedman: You know from bitter experience what a blessing it is to be free to choose — and what a curse it is to have choices taken away.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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