Missing: Urban Policy in the Presidential Campaign

In its lead editorial yesterday, the New York Times called out the presidential candidates for their failure to address issues facing U.S. cities in this year’s campaign. If only the Des Moines Register’s editorial board had published something like this back in November…

By now, many Americans have heard the presidential candidates talk about issues close to the heart of rural America. They fell all over themselves to praise ethanol in Iowa and condemn nuclear storage in Nevada. But as important as rural problems are, they’re not nearly as big as the task of helping the nation’s struggling cities — where most Americans live or work. The cities have been the hardest hit as federal policies have failed or gone missing in education, housing, health care, jobs, transportation and environment, to name a few. Yet urban issues have gotten scant attention in this campaign.

It’s not a new problem. For more than a generation, presidential aspirants have mostly resisted acknowledging the importance of the cities’ well being. Blame the front-loading of the primary season with rural states, or electoral and legislative systems that give disproportionate weight to sparsely populated states. Whatever the reason, it is shortsighted. According to Bruce Katz, co-author of a Brookings Institution study promoting investment in metropolitan areas, the largest 100 cities and their surrounding communities are home to 65 percent of the nation’s population and account for about 75 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

  • Mark

    The primary system is broken, as far as we’re concerned. It is biased against large states and large cities. If New York and California were the first two states on the primary schedule, history would be dramatically different.

  • And in case one of your readers didn’t see the excellent blog post you guys did trumpeting the Drum Major Institute’s MayorTV.com project that calls attention to the very problem described in the NYT editorial— well here’s the link: http://mayortv.com/

  • Larry Littlefield

    All I want from the Feds is univeral health care, something left of Social Security for those coming after the greediest generations in history, avoiding bankrupcy, and an end to the idea that low fossil fuel prices (which discourage conservation and alternatives) are good.

    Other than that, I just hope it doesn’t waste too much or screw things up too much.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Mark, there is no such thing as a broken primary system. The primaries are determined by Federalism and each state makes it up as they go along. Look at Florida and Michigan, they couldn’t even stay in line. Now no one can decide whether to seat them at the convention. What is broken is the antiquated, anti-urban concept of Federalism. This election cycle is 14 months long, next cycle it will be 16 or 18 until we just lurch from elections straight into primaries.

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