|114th Congress House of Representatives Map|
You honestly did not think I would let the Republic demolition derby that was last week's Midterm Elections slide without comment, did you? If you voted for the red team, then you were popping champagne corks all night long. If you voted blue, the you were crying in your beer. I can say, without contradiction, that in California all is status quo. Be that as it may, since this is a blog dedicated to all things architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design, yours truly has to put some kind of urban spin on the whole (Re) Election Day. With the help of one of our favorite people, Klaus Philipsen and his recent post "How does the Republican Mid-term Victory Square with the Age of Cities," in his blog http://archplanbaltimore.blogspot.com, we are going to look at what the Republican victories mean for the urban era.
Brooklyn, New York
|Maryland map of 2014 gubernatorial election|
Results suggest that the death of suburbia and rural communities is premature. While the big urban issues of: smart growth, the environment, main street revitalization, public transit, high-speed rail, storm water management all continue to hold planners and environmentalists in their gripe, these issue have little or no resonance beyond the urban core. Using his home state of Maryland's small towns as his case studies for happiness, places such as Cumberland, Rock Hall, Salisbury, and La Plata as well places without the urban centers such as: Pikesville, Ellicott City, and Towson all still went with the progressive agenda. Yet, as a concerned Mr. Philipsen writes, "...the threat to progressive policies failed to mobilize the voters in the urban centers, a voting pattern also seen in other traditional blue states such as Massachusetts and Illinois, not to mention south of the Mason Dixon Line."
|U.S. Metropolitan Map|
|H Street Festival|
|Silver Line street entrance|
|Tyson Corner neighborhood|
|Boston City Hall Plaza|
Most of these reasons lie way outside the issue of urban versus rural lifestyles or values. More intriguing and possibly contributing to voter frustration and anxiety is the question of the instability of the economic system and its continues worldwide sputtering. The possibility that the Great Recession was the spectacle of this model having crashed irreparably against the wall is unsettling voters to this, some seven years after it began.
|Boats patrolling flooded Annapolis streets|
Is climate change finally being recognized as the shape of things to come? Have not both sides of the issue, represented by the Democrats and Republicans, been proven wrong? Has not become apparent that government cannot solve the problem of carbon emissions? What about economically and politically strong countries such as Germany and Japan, with their histories of government intervention, lost their standing on the subject because of lack of progress? Finally, has the United States, with its more permissive attitude toward fracking, not accidentally achieved greater carbon reduction than those countries who built gigantic wind farms and put solar panels on practically every rooftop?
|A view of the Pacific Ocean|
Urban centers will continue to be places of innovation and experimentation. Mr, Philipsen observes, "Ironically, Washington DC as a city is thriving and full of innovation while official Washington of the national government appears to be frozen up. Innovation and experimentation is great but it must serve a practical use outside the urban areas. The ability to create some shiny gadget on a three-dimensional printer is nice but what about the wheat farmer who needs spare parts in order to get the harvest done? A high-speed light rail system is a fantastic idea but would not it make more sense to fix the crater-sized pot holes in the exurbs and rural areas first? The point here, is Congress and the President now have a remarkable opportunity to work together so that the ideas of the urban progressive agenda can bring the urban, suburban, exurban, and rural communities. Will it be more of the same or can both sides of the aisle learn to work together?