Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Urbanism and Democratic Party Reform

It's the Cities, Stupid. When you examine the county by county, precinct by precinct election returns nation-wide, one obvious pattern emerges; the Democratic Party is the party of the cities. Kerry won nearly every urban area above 500K, and half of those between 50K and 500K.

Urban areas contain about 225 million Americans, only 55 million and falling call rural areas home. 85 million live in the bounds of large cities. These demographics are the future of the Democratic party. Pollster/Demographers Ruy Teixeira and John Judis have pointed to the same urbanizing trends (the growth of cities which they term 'post-industrial ideopoli') as the basis for an emerging Democratic majority. Their prediction fell short of their expectations this year (I expected Kerry to win by 300+ to be honest), but the trend-lines are moving the right direction to give Democrats an electoral base as large as 332 electoral votes by 2008.

The editors at The Stranger argue that Democrats should jettison every policy not directly related to building and intensifying that crucial urban base. If doing so alienates some rural voters, so be it. It's a stimulating and useful perspective, considering Democrats will be largely limited to making political progress in municipal and blue state governments for the next few years. As such we will be digging in and taking advantage of the bolt hole against domination of the Federal government by the opposition which the GOP built: Federalism or 'states rights'. Ironically the very Constitutional arguments used to defend Jim Crow and segregation will now be marshalled to defend gay marriage, stem cell research, health care expansion, and state prescription drug reforms.

National politics will be all about denying the GOP what victories we can, digging in our heels, and making ourselves a pain in the ass, not about laying out a positive agenda. The urban areas are where we must hone our agenda and our messages for taking back Congress in 2006. Innovative local politics on issues of national import will drive the agenda of the Democratic party for the next few years. Local activists and politicians will wield more power in the Party than ever in recent memory.

We must continue to mobilize the still passive urban voters who are still not voting despite the GOP having a knife to their throats. Urban areas are by far the most efficient places to mobilize new voters, and the overwhelming majority of those voters are ours. We can easily best the GOP's best mobilization efforts, we just have to keep pushing. Their GOTV efforts will hit diminishing returns long before ours do. Our demographics are superior, we simply need to demonstrate the organization, the ideas, and the will to push home our natural advantages.


At 1:19 AM, Blogger Kari Chisholm said...

Yeah, the Urban Archipelago concept is a fun one, but a defeatist one, I think.

Instead, I'd argue that the Democrats need to reconnect with the West. There is ripe territory out here. Learn more at WesternDemocrat.com


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