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Thread: Is urban sprawl supported by the Republicans?

  1. #1
    Feb 2002
    BC, Canada

    Is urban sprawl supported by the Republicans?

    Forgive a silly Canadian for asking about the delicate world of American politics but I just had to ask. The topic of urban sprawl was on all the American TV channels when your vice president brought it up in one of his speaches.

    I was amazed when I turned on the TV the next day and there were a bunch of Republicans arguing in favour of urban sprawl. Has this become a federal political issue cut along Democratic versus Republican lines or was it just a good sound bite at the time and its really a non-issue? Just because your vice president said its bad does that mean that automatically the opposition (Republicans) feel they have to say it is good? (Gee, sounds like politicians in our country.)

    Excuse me if I have hurt anyones political sensibilities but I just want to know what you think is going on.

  2. #2

    Is urban sprawl supported by the Republicans?

    Yeah, pretty much.

    Sprawl is a real issue down here, but it becoming a partisan battle, which is very unfortunate. Especially since the first politician to really attack sprawl was the Republican governor of Oregon, Tom McCall. He made anti-sprawl legislation a non-partisan crusade. I believe he worked with Democratic leaders in the legislature (help me out, you Oregonians), as well as some business leaders. Anyway, he succeeded in building a planning system which is still the most effective growth management system in the U.S.

    But that was a long time ago (early seventies), and both parties have changed a lot since then. I think Gore is probably sincere, but his chances of building a bipartisan consensus on this issue are nil. The Republicans smell votes among the "property rights" crowd, so they will portray themselves as the defenders of freedom against evil bureaucrats. Of course, if the polls indicate that defending sprawl is a losing proposition (and if they aren't too dependent on campaign contributions from developers), they could flip.

    So where are the Tom McCalls, the Mike Mansfields, the Hubert Humphreys? I guess I'm just getting old and grumpy, but it seems to me that our current political leaders are a pretty small-minded bunch. Even Richard Nixon had a better environmental record than nine-tenths of the people we have now.

  3. #3
    An Independent

    Is urban sprawl supported by the Republicans?

    Yes, it does appear that the Republicans are more in favor of urban sprawl than their democratic counterparts. Just look at the proliferation of yuppies during the Reagan era (and all their "fresh-money") who descended on towns like Kent, CT and Hinsdale, Ill, wiped out the local businesses,replaced them with boutiques, and drove the locals to the hinterlands by driving up taxes.

    But the democrats are hardly blameless. My county is heavily democratic and residents have voted in favor of big-box sprawl through supporting Home Depots, Rite Aid and other big-box drug stores, and highway construction and widening. City council, over 75% democratic, also approves of these forms of economic terrorism.

    What is ironic is that Home Depot is blatently anti-union and yet was still approved of by the votors of my heavily unionized town.

    If indeed Republicans are proponants of urban sprawl, at the very least, democrats (at least in my town) are sprawl "wanna-bes" and are jealous of the republicans ability to push through urban sprawl projects. There is no idealism in either party: Republican or Democrat, its all really the same thing these days. They all just want their big SUV and big house out in the suburbs.

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