Home > economics, regulation > Why Do Conservatives Oppose New Urbanism?

Why Do Conservatives Oppose New Urbanism?

At The Reality-Based Community, Jonathan Zasloff considers why conservatives and Republicans oppose new urbanism, something fundamentally deregulatory, and typically right in their wheelhouse:

The cynic in me suspects that while conservatives and Republicans say that they believe in the free market, their prime social policy goal is economic inequality, which they believe to be the natural state of things.  Anything that could lead to more affordable housing or mixed-income neighborhoods is therefore suspect.  Perhaps a weaker form of the theory is just about signalling: if you are convinced that your political adversaries are secular socialists equivalent to Nazis or Stalinists (while somehow simultaneously being Muslim radicals), then anything they want is necessarily bad no matter what they are saying.

Indeed, I’m sure there’s certainly something to this argument put forth by Zasloff. But I’d add a less cynical point. I’d posit that another reason conservatives are generally opposed to new urbanism is conservatives tend to be older and more rigid in their ways. In fact, they’re far more likely to embrace the NIMBY mindset. As conservatives typically pine for the old days, the 50’s and 60’s represented the era of the ‘flight for the suburbs’ where the quiet, single-family home, white picket fence, spacious yard ideal was the quintessential American dream. It’s only natural that people who pine for this era would be opposed to new urbanism. They see increased density, walkability, and mixed-use as a threat to their sense of culture and right to be free from those perceived to be ‘others.’ Cities attract younger, more heterogeneous populations – while the vast majority of conservatives and Republicans are older and white.

*part of this post originally appeared as a comment

Image via Forbes

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