Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds wasn’t writing about the Twin Cities’ Met Council in his USA Today piece, “Why Politicians Love Cities”. But in another sense, he was precisely writing about the Met Council.
Reynolds cites urban theorist and “New Urbanism” critic Joel Kotkin’s new book (we’ve met Kotkin on this blog before) in getting to three reasons why politicians – like the Met Council – loooove big cities; snobbery, graft and politics.
I’ll commend Reynolds’ article to you for the first two. As to the politics?
Cities tend to repel – and, ultimately, exclude – people who intend to raise children; it’s become something of a phenomenon. What it’s not, it would seem, is accidental:
Politicians like to pursue policies that encourage their political enemies to leave, while encouraging those who remain to vote for them. (This is known as “the Curley effect” after James Michael Curley, a former mayor of Boston.) People who have children, or plan to, tend to be more conservative, or at least more bourgeois, than those who do not. By encouraging high density and mass transit, urban politicians (who are almost always on the left) encourage people who might oppose them to “vote with their feet” and move to the suburbs.
This isn’t necessarily good for the cities they rule. Curley’s approach, which involved “wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston,” as David Henderson wrote on theEconLog, shaped the electorate to his benefit. Result: “Boston as a consequence stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections.”
But that’s OK. Politicians don’t care about you. They care about power, in urban planning and in everything else.
Pushing people who tend more conservative out of the city/ies is just plain good politics for the DFL that the Met Council exists to serve.