The Corner

U.S.

An Urban Exodus Could Move the Suburbs to the Left, Not the Right

I think Kyle Smith’s post below on the “Suicide of the Cities” is a really smart one, and a warning that urban leaders should heed carefully. The coronavirus and its related policies of quarantines and lockdowns was already tipping the scale against urban life in the eyes of some big city residents. A sense that the police or prosecutors either are unable or unwilling to keep order in the streets will spur another, even wider exodus.

The only mitigating factor in the portrait that Kyle paints is that urban progressives who move out to the suburbs or the country, driven by exasperation with the problems of urban life, don’t always change their voting habits. Ask longtime New Hampshire residents about the transplants from Massachusetts, longtime Virginia residents about the spillover in the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C., or longtime residents of any Western state about the new transplants from California. Many red state conservatives have fumed as newcomers complain about high taxes, soft-on-crime policies, and maddening bureaucracy and stupid rules where they used to live . . . and then vote for candidates who share the same worldview all over again.

Kyle concludes, “the demonstrators and rioters are going to remake the cities in their own image. And it’s going to be disastrous for those cities.” Indeed, but those leaving the cities are likely to try to remake their new communities in the image of their old ones. These transplants won’t completely change the political currents in their new communities, at least not for a while. But one of the maddening aspects of modern public policy is that hard lessons need to be relearned every few decades as citizens forget which policies solved the problems and which ones created them.

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