Yours truly is wilting in the annual late summer heat wave, wistfully hoping for cooler days. Despite the unending high temperatures, we shall persevere. Today's post is from the pile that has been collecting in the drop box. In this case, Matt K. Lewis's post for The Week, "New urbanism isn't for liberals-conservatives should embrace it too." Mr. Lewis discusses why "socialist pipe dream(s)" are not just ideas for liberal leaning people, it is something that has traction for conservative minded individuals.
Over time, conservatism has, for one reason or another, been associated in the popular mind with sterile suburbs, grotesquely large houses (McMansions), gas-guzzling mini vans and SUVs. Liberalism come to mean image of urban living in close quarters, public transportation or bicycle commutes from lofts to open-floor workplaces. This, as Mr. Lewis points out, is pure fallacy, citing how the late conservative giant William F. Buckley rode a scooter or how Russell Kirk absolutely refused to drive, warning that, "...automobiles would increase rootlessness in America." If these conservative icons were to be miraculously resurrected, would discover that their fellow Americans have a completely different view of conservatives. Conservatives, if they must live near a city, choose to by the biggest house with the furthest commute they can afford and endure, buy the biggest and least fuel efficient automobile. Mr. Lewis concludes, "And you know what? Based on our choices, it's pretty clear that we conservatives believe this, too." Perhaps it is time for a change of thinking.
I need to step back for a second and ponder this question myself. Have Target and Chuck E. Cheese become the symbols of American values? What does this say about a culture that has produced Walt Whitman, Arthur Miller, Jackson Pollock, and Frank Lloyd Wright? Pretty sad if you ask me, especially in light of images from Ferguson, that the idea of defending the Homeland has been reduced to defending big-box stores and fast food restaurants.
|The Cotton District|
On the face of it, it is hard to see why conservatives should oppose offering traditionally designed cities, towns and neighborhoods as alternatives to post-war "sprawl" suburbs. As conservatives we are supposed to prefer traditional design over modern innovations in most things (and we do). We hope to demonstrate traditional designs for the places we live, work, and shop encourage traditional culture and morals. This should not surprise us. Edmund Burke told us more than two hundred years ago that traditional societies are organic wholes. If you (literally) disintegrate a society's physical setting as sprawl has done, you ten to disintegrate its culture as well. (https://eee.cnu.org//sites/www,cnu.org/.../Conservatives&NewUrbanism.pdf)
|New Urbanism in San Antonio, Texas|
Whether you lean conservative or liberal, Edmund Burke's statement, "To make use love our country,...our country must be lovely," still rings true. Lovely does not necessarily mean aesthetic quality it means placing a high value on the principles we stand for not the material trappings of popular culture. New Urbanism is one way to enshrine the values that a nations stands for. The question is can it be embraced by all?