Edward Glaesar of Harvard has this nice article on the hate relationship between city voters and GoP.
He begins showing how city voters rejected Mitt Romney:
After the presidential election in November,New York Times exit polls found that Republican candidate Mitt Romney had received only 29 percent of the big-city vote to President Obama’s 69 percent. That gap prompted Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, to conclude that it was “the turnout especially in urban areas” that “gave President Obama the big margin to win this race.” Ryan was right: the GOP has an urban problem. And it’s partly a self-created one. The party, nationally and even locally, has focused on winning suburban and rural votes and has stopped reaching out to city dwellers.
The cities-as-foreign-territory approach is bad politics for the Republicans: after all, successful cities like New York and Houston surge with ambitious strivers and entrepreneurs, who should instinctively sympathize with the GOP’s faith in private industry. The Republican move away from the cities is also bad for the cities themselves, which have hugely benefited—and could benefit a lot more—from right-of-center ideas.
However, this was not the case earlier. GoP had policies for city-voters:
The GOP wasn’t always so dismissive of cities. Almost at the front of its 1968 platform was a section called “Crisis of the Cities,” which declared that “for today and tomorrow, there must be—and we pledge—a vigorous effort, nation-wide, to transform the blighted areas of cities.” The platform advocated “greater involvement of vast private enterprise resources in the improvement of urban life, induced by tax and other incentives,” as well as “new technological and administrative approaches through flexible federal programs enabling and encouraging communities to solve their own problems.” After Richard Nixon won the election that year, he sought to deliver on those promises. Aided by his HUD secretary, George Romney (Mitt’s father), he moved federal policy away from subsidizing disastrous public-housing projects and toward a system of housing vouchers. Nixon also championed block grants, which gave cities flexibility in distributing federal aid, allowing them to target their greatest needs.
The 2012 party platform, by contrast, had no city-oriented policies whatsoever and used the word “urban” just twice—once to decry the current administration’s allegedly “replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” (The Obama administration’s urban policy has actually been rather timid. It has done little to reduce one of the federal government’s largest real social-engineering efforts, one that favors suburbs over cities: promoting homeownership with the mortgage-interest tax deduction and with subsidized mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That policy amounts to bribing people to leave rented urban apartments and buy suburban houses.)
He points to how certain cities are safer today because of GoP leaders:
Some of our greatest cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are much safer today than they were 20 years ago, thanks to Republican leaders, such as former Gotham mayor Rudy Giuliani. Forty years ago, conservatives and liberals disagreed about how to fight crime. Conservatives looked to more effective policing; liberals, believing that poverty caused crime, bet on redistributive social policies. The past decades have overwhelmingly vindicated the conservatives. The expansive government programs of the liberals’ Great Society coincided with rapidly rising urban crime rates. Cities became safe again only when they embraced tougher—and smarter—policing.
Yet not all cities have gotten on the bandwagon, and safety remains a grave concern in many. The Republican Party should point to the success of the crime-fighting revolution and push for its adoption across urban America. Among the innovations that it could promote is New York’s justly renowned Compstat system, which makes a police force more accountable by mapping crime, identifying hot spots, and demanding that the precinct commanders responsible for those areas make them safer. Simply hiring more cops also helps. And Boston and Los Angeles have achieved results by building connections with leaders in local minority communities, who came to see the police as friends rather than as outsiders (see “The LAPD Remade”).
Flourishing urban life depends on keeping the peace, and every American deserves to be able to walk down the street without looking over his shoulder. The GOP, historically the party of law and order, can convincingly make the case for urban crime reduction.
Republicans also have better ideas on urban school reform and urban policy:
Republicans are also the natural champions of meaningful school reform, since they’re far less likely than Democrats to be in thrall to the teachers’ unions that bear much of the responsibility for the failure of our urban public schools. The Right has correctly promoted choice and accountability as key principles in making schools better. Great enterprises, from law firms to restaurants, spring up in cities because cities’ agglomerations of people produce free-market maelstroms, which encourage vigorous competition and innovation. Imagine what would happen to the quality of food in New York if the city replaced its thriving, hypercompetitive restaurant scene with a single public canteen. That’s exactly what cities have done by accepting monolithic public school systems. With no incentive to excel or improve, the schools can get away with selling a lousy product, and they do.
Republicans have good ideas to share in other areas of urban policy as well. For example, improving city services while reducing costs is a priority in these budget-strapped times. My Kennedy School colleague Stephen Goldsmith, formerly the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, was a pioneer in letting private companies bid to provide services that had previously been monopolized by public workers. Properly managed, private provision can bring huge efficiencies and help reduce the dauntingly high labor costs in many cities.
Hence time to go back to basics and woo urban voters with sensible policies:
The Republicans’ abandonment of the city is good neither for their party nor for urban America. The GOP clearly needs a heftier percentage of the urban vote, but winning it by means of fiscal pandering or redistribution isn’t the way to go—partly because such a strategy would cost rural and suburban votes and partly because it would be wrong. A better approach is to offer the good ideas that cities desperately need. Republicans have plenty.
Interesting as always from Prof Glaesar.
Well, how can one not compare this to India’s GoP – Congree Party. I doubt whether they have any such history. Their politics has only been about rural areas & removing poverty and licence raj which has moved to resource rent-seeking raj. They hardly have had any policies for city-dwellers. I may be wrong here and people are free to correct.
With agitations over corruption, lokpal, Delhi rape case and so on, GoP of India is struggling and has realised there is a need to have a policy/strategy for urban voters as well.
Ashok Malik says India’s GoP should change itself to woo urban voters or perish.