The Agenda

Edward Glaeser on Why the Tea Party Movement Should Embrace Cities

It is so obvious that I agree with everything Glaeser has to say in this Economix post that I won’t bother belaboring the point. 

There is only one wrinkle I’ll offer. After a devastating indictment of the madness of subsidizing homeownership, a subtle argument on how to think about public investment in transportation, a call for bringing private entrepreneurship and competition to education, and a reminder of how steeply progressive income taxes impact the most productive regions, Glaeser writes:


Urbanites are not natural libertarians. New Yorkers should like government more than Montanans, because New Yorkers have more need for an effective local government.

Crowding thousands of people into a tiny spot of land creates a risk of crime and contagious disease and congestion, and those downsides of density need public management. America’s cities became healthy only when local government spent vast sums on clean water; they became safe only through massive local policing efforts.

While urbanites do need strong local governments, they can make common cause with libertarians opposed to a larger federal government, especially because national largess often goes to low-density states with more senators per capita.

That is, a reconciliation between Tea Party activists and urbanites has to be a two-way street. People on the right need to understand that a freer economy — in which we don’t subsidize rural and suburban living quite so heavily — will tend to deliver more density, and that density will tend to deliver more entrepreneurial growth. Urbanities need to understand that activism at the local level and at the federal level are very different in character, and that there is a strong case for real institutional diversity of the kind that is undermined by a powerful and intrusive federal government. My worry is that it will be easier to sell the right on cities than urbanites on economic freedom and federalism.   

Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More
White House

For Democrats, the Party’s Over

If the Democrats are really tempted by impeachment, bring it on. Since the day after the 2016 election they have been threatening this, placing their chips on the Russian-collusion fantasy and then on the phantasmagoric charade of obstruction of justice. The attorney general accurately gave the ingredients of the ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More