Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Four years of "New Order"

When I am depressed I listen to music from New Order, maybe the Smiths, Psychedelic Furs, etc., music from my college years.

After the election results last night, I expect I will be listening to this type of music for a long, long time.

Because winning the election is based on "winning states" rather than the total national vote, even though Hillary Clinton seems to have won more total votes, Trump wins the election.  So this is another instance of Republicans winning the presidential election without winning the popular vote.

Trump seems to have run the table, winning every state that was said to be in play, and more states as well.

And in those states, the Democratic candidate for Senate lost, so the Republicans control the House as expected, the Senate, not expected, the Presidency, and soon, the Supreme Court.

But again, to emphasize the closeness of the vote in many states, the Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte, appears to be winning over Democratic candidate Jeanne Hassan, the sitting Governor, by fewer than 2,000 votes ("New Hampshire U.S. Senate Results: Kelly Ayotte Leads," New York Times).  (Although the other Senate races, such as in North Carolina, Missouri, and Wisconsin were nowhere near as close.)

Graphic from the Detroit Free Press, 2016 Presidential Election
2016 Presidential Election results, by state

A comment on Frank Bruni's column in today's New York Times, "Donald Trump's shocking success," is pretty apt:

Jefferson Davis has won

The nation's cities as an archipelago.  After the 2004 election, Dan Savage, editor of The Stranger, Seattle's alternative free weekly newspaper, wrote a screed about the results, focusing on the cities and coasts versus the nation's interior.

I reprinted that piece, "The Urban Archipelago," in its entirety in a blog I aimed to do last decade, focused on creating an urban-focused agenda for the presidential elections--at least in the primaries, the idea was to have a candidate run on a pro-city agenda to put the agenda "out there."

Since the article doesn't seem to be available on The Stranger's website anymore that's a good thing I have it available, but the reality is that I am today, filled with despair..

An urban political agenda.  After the Obama election win in 2008, I wrote a couple of pieces about how all the people in DC asking what would the new president do for the city were asking the wrong question, that they needed to know what they wanted, that "Chance favors the prepared city" and a prepared city is defined by having the vision, capacity, leadership, and plans in place to take advantage of opportunities as they presented.

For example, I don't think DC's quest for statehood will be going anywhere, despite yesterday's vote in favor of it in our local election.  Attaining statehood was predicated on Democratic Party control of the President and Senate.

-- "How will Obama relate to the District?"
-- "Stimulus plan: feeding at the trough or investing in our future"
-- "Chance continues to favor the prepared road builders"

It's funny because I was thinking about this recently, assessing the Obama Presidency in terms of an urban agenda and considering what the Administration was up against, they did focus attention and energy on urban issues, with support for transit, the Promise Neighborhood initiative, various environmental measures, even came out with a report recently on the value of cities,smart growth, etc.

Sure it wasn't up to the level of an urban policy proposed many years ago by the Black Commentator, "Wanted: A Plan for Cities to Save Themselves," but it is much more than will ever be proffered in the next four years by a Republican, anti-city government.

The good of the country?  Maybe the grotesque place we are in will motivate some Republican leaders to act for the good of the country.  But I don't think such selflessness is within them.  It's all about ideology and putting that ideology, and an anti-government agenda forward.

Since I believe that government is not a bad thing, but ultimately represents the expression of "the people" and the structural support-foundation supporting societal relations, an anti-government focus frays and ultimately destroys the fabric of society.  That is the Republican legacy in the US, even before Trump, which that legacy enabled.

Sure, Trump talked about putting money into infrastructure--roads, bridges, ports, transit presumably.

Likelihood of economic recession significantly increases.  But I see no positive opportunities for regular people in a Trump presidency and Republican control of Congress.  Most of the pundits predict, were Trump to carry out his proposed agenda:

- trade wars
- building a wall along the southern border with Mexico
- deporting immigrants
- no attention paid to global warming
- succor to Russia
- some sort of involvement in the Mideast
- not to mention huge tax cuts for the super wealthy (and continued special treatment for real estate development)

in the face of a weak global economy that the US and the world face a long term recession.  Trade wars helped stoke the Great Depression and World War II, so it is hard to not see much of a way forward.

-- Henry Blodget's take

We already see that a version of that agenda isn't working out in Kansas at the state level.  And in fact despite the fact that the state went for Trump, decisively, more Democrats got elected to the State Legislature, as part of a concerted campaign aimed at changing the state's turn to an extreme right agenda ("Democrats make gains in Kansas Legislature," Wichita Eagle).

It is hard to believe, but in terms of Democratic voting at a state-by-state scale, this election's result are worse than those from 2000.

How can I depict that I am in mourning?  The election results remind me of the unprecedented Life magazine cover after the assassination of President Kennedy, when they printed the logotype of the magazine in the mourning color of black, instead of the normal red color.

The election results, showing more votes for Clinton than Trump, but such a bifurcation when looked at state by state or county by county, make the need for an urban agenda and an even better "ground game" that much more important.

The results communicate how state politics is shaped to favor rural and business interests at the expense of cities, and how this structure ported to the way Congressional districts are drawn, ends up shaping national politics.

Those transit votes.  The Detroit area vote, which requires a simple majority, is close and may not pass.  But the Wake County, North Carolina referendum did pass.  Both votes are in states that chose Trump.

The SF area vote, which requires a two-thirds majority, may not pass.  The LA area vote, also requiring a two-thirds majority, looks to pass--an advantage of being focused on one county only, while the SF Bay area vote covers three separate jurisdictions.  The Puget Sound vote appears likely to pass.

It will be interesting to see what kind of agenda on transit comes from President Trump.  It is infrastructure, and he sees the value in infrastructure.  After all, it's the underpinning of successful real estate development.

That urban agenda takes a hit in Kentucky.  Speaking of the "urban agenda," Jim Gray, Mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, ran against Rand Paul for Senate and got trounced ("Rand Paul defeats Jim Gray to keep his Senate seat," Lexington Herald-Leader).  Before taking up politics full-time, Jim Gray helped build his "family" construction firm into a major firm active nationally and overseas.

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At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Charlie said...

Ha, we really have the same music tastes although that was high school for me

Infrastructure: Going to be big. Fund it by withholding a ax on us treasuries. Good for growth machine. Think big.

Immigration. Cutting it off minimal impact on urban life. Service cost going to triple.

Interest rates. Not sure. See withholding tax.

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Charlie said...

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Well, yes, I do see Trump as potentially good for the real estate growth machine. If the hard core anti-government Republicans in the Senate and House will let him. I'm doubtful, except for roads.

2. wrt the music, we went to Slash Run last week and they have an awesome jukebox. It even has The Vibrators "Pure Mania" album. "Search and Destroy" came on (I was a big Iggy fan then) and I sang all the words... Suzanne was a little embarrassed and she said that some of the millennials around us didn't seem to approve.

3. TMI? I don't know. TMI + no commitment to facts and truth and a willingness to lie and mislead.

Does that mean the definition of "information"?

We're f*ed.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

In a couple states, like Michigan, maybe Wisconsin, Green Party votes for Clinton would have shifted the Electoral Votes to Clinton, but on that basis, you'd have to add Libertarian votes to Trump...

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

there was something I found a few weeks ago -- a alt cartoonist from cleveland of chief would have enjoyed.

My GF calls it the "Soundtrack of J crew" since that is all the run -- every song of my childhood. Well, no P.I.L.

Perhaps if HRC could have been bothered to go to Wisconsin...

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

... this is not a love song. I need to listen to songs with some rage. Maybe MC5, the Raw Power album, etc. But PIL definitely more than the "electronic" dirge stuff.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Well if you understand Johny Rotten, you can understand the rage of Trump supporters. Just saying.

San Diego stadium FAILS.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Wow, I forgot to check the results of that vote. But these days, face it, if stadiums/arenas have to go up for a vote, do they ever win?

wrt rage, we watch CBS Sunday Morning somewhat frequently and they always have a musical guest. I keep hoping that Bad Religion will be the guest one day.

The one single bright note on this terrible day, made more depressing by the overcast skies, is it probably means no TrumpTV channel.

... and Hillary Clinton would have been under constant attack by Congress.

Small benefits indeed.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The The, "Beaten Generation" But now because of you I'm listening to PIL.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

and I forgot about the "advisory" referendum on extending light rail to Virginia Beach.

It's failure has led the state to stop funding.

Shades of all the battles in Cincinnati, and even on the verge of the opening of the light rail program in Charlotte, NC (although that maybe was an earlier sign that we realized of a righter turn in NC).

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

+ I am thinking of organizing a wake...


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