Joe Wolf (Flickr)
Joe Wolf (Flickr)

Tuesday’s election was an existential whiplash in a number of ways, but it was a particular disaster for our cities. As Erica Barnett wrote in The C is for Crank this morning, Trump has promised to withhold all federal funds from Sanctuary Cities, of which Seattle is one. If enacted, human services, parks, housing, and transportation projects could take the hardest hit, including local projects such as the Center City Connector, Madison BRT, all Move Seattle bus corridors, the bike share relaunch, and Sound Transit 3. At the federal level, Trump’s has hinted that “ranch/farm-to-market” are as important as “crowded subways”, he has chosen a highway-industry lobbyist to lead transportation policy, and he will almost surely undo our already halting efforts at addressing climate change.

This is all happening not because of our cities, but despite them. Hardly the ‘hell’ Mr. Trump described, our thriving cities nonetheless received a stunning rebuke from rural America. Rural Obama voters who believed in “Yes We Can” in 2008 turned out in 2016 to say “Well, We Didn’t“, especially in the upper Midwest.

Their slim majorities bested worthless urban Democratic margins; among the 35 largest U.S. cities, only 5 voted for Trump. Clinton is on pace to have the largest popular vote victory of any losing Presidential candidate, currently 400,000 but possibly as many as 2 million once all votes are counted. (Al Gore’s 2000 margin was 544,000 votes). That means a vote for Clinton was only worth 75% of a vote for Trump. Democrats have won the popular vote in 4 of the past 5 Presidential elections, but will have had only 2 Presidential terms. 52% of the votes for Senate went to Democrats, but Republicans won 59% of the seats available this cycle (20 of 34).

(Graphic mine. Data from NY Times)
(Graphic mine. Data from NY Times)

In the age of The Big Sortwe are clustering together like never before, and our cities are small, dense pockets of wealth, opportunity, and political homogeneity. Lest we continue to be bluer islands in a redder sea, it is all the more imperative that our cities be physically as well as socially inclusive. To the extent that we make urban access harder, whether through inadequate transportation or undersupplied housing, we merely concentrate our own privilege and harden the rural/urban divide. As we recoil in horror at Trump’s wall-building dreams, we should have the self-awareness not to build our own virtual walls through socio-economic means. Otherwise, we hand our rural neighbors a potent cocktail, equal parts resentment of Others and fear for oneself.

Washington Post (click for article0
Washington Post (click for article)

We need more city, and we can’t mourn the size of our membership if we make it hard to join the club. Many of us migrated from our Red/rural childhoods to our Blue/urban adulthoods – I spent my first 18 years in blood-red Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – and more than anything, cities have given me space to grow and learn and expand. I want as many people as possible to be able to do the same, but I’m not sure my 19-year old self would have been given the chance in 2016 Seattle rather than 2001.

If we have literally nothing to say to rural America, they will listen to those who do. If we don’t invest our time and political energy in the suburbs and exurbs, we will lose them too. This election should make it clear that we cannot count on growing progressive urbanism via rural attrition. We need to do everything we can to actively roll out the welcome mat, and let cities work their serendipitous magic to shape hearts and minds.

78 Replies to “Cities in the Age of Trump”

  1. This. I would only add that the popular vote differential is all the more surprising because candidates aren’t trying to rack up that particular score. People in most cities know their presidential vote barely matters, but some vote anyway. The gap would have been even wider if presidential candidates actually campaigned in every big city, and if we could honestly tell marginally-interested urban voters that their vote would actually count.

    1. This is also the same for rural voters where cities like Seattle will always trump their vote due to sheer numbers. For instance, statewide elections are typically controlled by the Puget Sound.

  2. Well the entire point of the electoral college was to keep cities from taking over the vote. So, it is functioning exactly as intended.

    Doesn’t make it sting any less, of course. Transportation was towards the bottom of my list of reasons to be afraid of a Trump presidency.

    1. This is not accurate. There was no divide between cities and rural areas in 1780s America. There certainly was an elitist impulse but it had little to do with urban:rural.

      1. From some things I’ve read about France, and saw in Sweden, it’s long been the European custom for the rich and privileged to live in cities. And the poor to live in the suburbs, and often be deeply discriminated against on account of it.

        Some say that a lot of recent terrorism, and even more, leaving Europe to join ISIS, results from a culture that takes a long time to accept someone from another country as a citizen. Some say never.


      2. But there was a divide between small states and large states. And in fact, the difference was largely the four large cities then found in the United States: New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. The only “large” (e.g. populous) state which didn’t have a large city was Virginia which instead had a number of small cities sprinkled about it.

        The “small” states banded together to control those five “large” states during the evolution of the Constitution, resulting in the current reality that 16.286% of the population of the United States could control the US Senate if they all voted similarly (2013 figures).

        Thankfully Rhode Island and Wyoming have nothing in common except small population.

      3. From some things I’ve read about France, and saw in Sweden, it’s long been the European custom for the rich and privileged to live in cities. And the poor to live in the suburbs,

        Those slum looking things outside some cities are clusters of garden plots. People have a home that they use in the city but the back yard is in the suburbs.

    2. The point of the Electoral College was that the founders didn’t trust direct democracy; they were afraid the masses were uneducated and were vulnerable to following demagogues, and that would destroy the balanced rational republic they were trying to setting up. So if I remember right, the people (or rather white male landowners) were allowed to choose their state legislators, and the legislators took care of making all the decisions. I’m not sure about congressional races, whether they were directly elected. But the state legislatures were in charge of choosing the president, and that evolved into the Electoral College as states gradually allowed the public to vote for their presidential electors.

      Demagogue: “1. A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument. 2. (In ancient Greece and Rome) a leader or orator who espoused the cause of the common people.”

      The irony is that Trump fits the first definition of a demagogue (and his supports would say, the second definition), but he was elected by the Electoral College system. I wonder if the founders would be very worried about him. But we have had two hundred years to solidify the system, and a Civil War to test it, so perhaps it can withstand four or eight years of a demagogue now but couldn’t then.

      1. Somehow the US withstood Andrew Jackson (it’s still not entirely clear how), though he did massive damage.

      2. Uneducated is a demeaning term created by those who feel superior. Those who use the term about certain groups of people are in by no means more educated, in fact, it’s often the opposite.

    3. No. The intent was to further insulate slavery. The electoral college was simply the backup to the 3/5 of a human vote controlled by the slave owner.

      1. Getting rid of winner-take-all and eliminating the Electiral College are two different things. States are free to change winner-take-all–as several already have. Eliminating the electoral vote allocation and/or the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment.

  3. How meaningful is it for Seattle to be a sanctuary city if there is no room to provide sanctuary, we continue to not build fast enough regardless of how badly NIMBY city council candidates get beaten, and we tell those who can’t find the mythical shelter openings to pack up and leave?

    1. i’m sure there are lots of undocumented immigrants in seattle, especially south seattle. i’m incredibly proud of mayor murray and our city for standing up for our principles of not deporting humans for simply not having papers.

      1. The phrase “simply not having papers” strikes me as a bit of a slippery slope. Would you feel the same away about a building constructed without the “papers” that provide evidence of proper engineering? There are reasons that we require documentation for lots of things. It is fine to question whether we should require any kind of documentation in the first place. But, once adopted, we should enforce such requirements. And, just exactly where does the City of Seattle get the authority to contradict legitimately established national law and regulation?

      2. It’s actually contradictory to the established law to NOT be a sanctuary city.

        Harassment of people who might be illegal is what got the Maricopa County Sheriff in trouble with the FBI.

    2. Seattle needed more housing before the election. Now the sanctuary city status adds another big reason that more housing should be built.

  4. Well stated that the cosmopolitan class needs to have more to say to the broader american population.

    This blog could take a good first step by doing some self examination about how the most prized policies among transit enthusiasts may in in certain instances block accessibility (affordability) for more folks to enter urban areas. I would propose starting by hosting a podcast with a guest like Charles Marohn who has written some fascinating pieces on how transit oriented development planning could be contributing to the socioeconomic divide between city and countryside.

    1. At a certain point we need to ask ourselves if housing should be a human right as much as healthcare and education (supposedly) are in this country. Space is limited and few and fewer of us will ever be able to own property. Speculation is a far greater culprit of rising rent than NIMBYism is…

      Interesting to watch supposed liberal “leftists” champion the free market as the savior of housing affordability. When has the free market ever been an equitable way of distributing limited resources?

      1. I’ll just add: before unions were completely gutted in this country it wasn’t uncommon for employers to provide affordable housing for their workers.

      2. Barman – are you talking about company towns? If so, I don’t think they had anything to do with unions, but they had a ton of problems of their own.

      3. When has zoning, height restrictions, design review, etc, ever increased the availability of housing as a resource?

      4. Or to put it another way, should view preservation be a human right on the same level as education and health care?

      5. Brent I agree zoning is restrictive but even that is finite… let’s be honest here. This isn’t even a new problem. Housing affordability was a central focus of debate during the industrial revolution in Europe.

        And no William… I’m obviously not talking about company towns…

      6. “Interesting to watch supposed liberal “leftists” champion the free market as the savior of housing affordability. When has the free market ever been an equitable way of distributing limited resources?”

        Barman, from here on I’ll never give you a bad time about anything to do with transit. I really think a lot of the outlook we agree on has to do with age, not so much physical, but by the prevalent political ideas one grew up with.

        Someone who is now thirty has no idea that there ever was a time when at least some people did not regard “The Market” as the final word on anything that you didn’t buy in a market that smelled like vegetables or fish. Excellent way of apportioning things that weren’t necessities.

        And maybe about income-based choices like location or style of a home, or make and model of a car. But for things necessary for health and survival, people were supposed to be able to get them.

        Or, it was also perfectly acceptable for Government to see to it that people had what they needed, either by giving them money, or work to earn it, or negotiating a lower price. And there was also an understanding about politics itself.

        We saw our government as neither a tyrant nor a benefactor, but ours, the People’s, own tools and machinery for accomplishing by our own voluntarily combined effort, work we could not do individually. And for some of us, we expected to be schooled and trained accordingly.

        The end of Hillary Clinton’s political career began when neither major party confronted Ronald Reagan’s statement that our government was not the solution to our problems, but their cause.

        Which should rightly have been denounced as the lie it was: That both we and the powerful tool we had inherited, and expected to be able to operate ourselves, never would be able to handle.

        My chief hope about Tuesday’s events is that average future voter will come to my lifelong conviction about our Government, without my having to tell them.

        Mark Dublin

      7. “Excellent way of apportioning things that weren’t necessities.”

        That’s it. Why do we allow things like housing and healthcare to be treated like commodities as if they’re unnecessary luxuries like video games or an Old Master painting. Other countries ensure that all citizens have access to essential things at a price they can afford.

      8. “Interesting to watch supposed liberal “leftists” champion the free market as the savior of housing affordability. When has the free market ever been an equitable way of distributing limited resources?”

        Historically the left has also been anti-trust as well. Think of home ownership as a trust. The trust owners have banded together to limit competition. They have done so via regulation, but that is simply a means to an end. They didn’t join together to increase wealth, but motivation is irrelevant. Regardless of their technique or motivation, the results are the same: less competition, which leads to higher prices. I live in a SFH area, so I can’t convert my house to an apartment building, which means that the apartment owner down the street can charge more.

        There was an interesting article about how modern Democrats became less interested in anti-trust issues: I see a lot of similarities with the zoning debates.

      9. RossB: yes, exactly. Great way of putting it. This is about *anti-trust*, aka anti-cartel, policies, which used to be a very important issue on the left.

    2. The Marohn article is sort of weird.

      1. He claims that developing all the parcels to their “highest and best use” would require a population of tens of millions to justify. I don’t know about Portland, but even the biggest anti-upzone forces don’t claim there’s tens of millions of people worth of development capacity under current zoning in Seattle.

      2. He writes as if value is assigned by some reasoning about what could be built there, and that sellers and buyers must then abide by that value. Really, sellers and buyers agree on a price, then we call that the value. An empty lot with high zoning is only valuable if someone might actually want to build something valuable there — plenty of high-zoned lots have sold plenty cheaply when that demand is lacking in plenty of cities.

      3. Of course high zoning increases the maximum value of the land. But it does so by increasing the maximum occupancy. All things being equal, people will generally pay more for a new single house on a lot than for one of many new condos on it. If the main reason it’s an attractive place to live is that it’s near a transit station, zoning higher should allow more people to live there for less money each. There are scenarios where displacement is real: where a critical mass of people makes the area more attractive… particularly when a critical mass of rich people makes the area more attractive to rich people in particular, which has effects beyond housing. But that seems to happen with low zoning, too.

      1. In response to this….

        “2. He writes as if value is assigned by some reasoning about what could be built there, and that sellers and buyers must then abide by that value. Really, sellers and buyers agree on a price, then we call that the value. An empty lot with high zoning is only valuable if someone might actually want to build something valuable there — plenty of high-zoned lots have sold plenty cheaply when that demand is lacking in plenty of cities.”

        I think his point is that TOD can inflate the value of a parcel overnight even though nothing has really fundamentally happened to the property. You are correct that a buyer is still required for the land owner to get his higher price but the owner is likely to hold out for a long time waiting for that apartment developer to come in. In the mean time the parcel will just sit there empty and blighted when it could be used to build a single family home on. It keeps that property out of the housing market because the owner will wait it out for the big high density developer payday.

      2. Well, if that’s his point, his point is basically nonsense. Doesn’t happen in significant quantities.

      3. Absolutely agree. He says “much has been written about housing prices in Portland yet there is no evidence that housing isn’t keeping up with demand.”

        This statement is preposterous. Portland has, by some measures, the tightest housing market in the country, and apartment vacancy rates down in the 1% range.

        Actual articles with actual research behind them have been published by the Willamette Week. Here are several examples:

      4. Err, that was supposed to go below, after Nathaniel’s “factually challenged” comment.

  5. Marohn’s piece is lame. He could have at least assembled statistics, instead of just making up hypothetical numbers on a napkin. (And the part where he says he isn’t anti-transit sounds too much like “I’m not racist. Some of my best friends are black.”)

    But, sure, new housing costs more than older housing. No news there. That argument has been raised here aplenty to defend fancy single-family housing from being replaced with high-rise apartments and/or condos. Or more bizarrely, to defend replacing parking lots with low-rise housing instead of high-rise housing.

    Some have even tortured the data by averaging rents in new housing with rents in old housing, and trying to paint a false picture that the rent in the new housing is causing rent increases in the older housing. Is Marohn in denial of the law of supply and demand?

    Those paying attention to history are realizing that much of today’s affordable housing was yesterday’s high-rise housing for the well-to-do.

    Let me throw in a word on developer-bashing. Building housing doesn’t cause growth. Humans having children causes growth. Developers just build places for the children to live when they leave the nest. We can build up, so they can live in cities. We can mow down more agricultural land so they can live in suburgatory. We can pretend population growth is not happening, and throw them out on the streets. Deporting all our children to Mexico is not an option. Though I can’t blame any of them who decide Mexico is a better place to live.

  6. I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump, but I say take advantage of Trump’s offer to rebuild bridges and roads: I-5 through Seattle has no funding, and democrat or republican, neither party is getting rid of it anytime soon, the road is here to stay. So lets ask Donald to give us the money to get it rebuilt, eliminate the car bottlenecks and add some serious transit access to the damn thing. And while we’re at it, rebuild Aurora bridge with full-time BRT lanes.
    There are things on our plate as a city & region that I’m sure we can find common ground on.

    1. Pablo, based either on Mr. Trump’s campaign or the career behind them, why would you believe anything he promises about anything?

      Mark Dublin

    2. I throught Trump’s transportation plan is to give our freeways to private corporations, who will toll and supposedly maintain the freeways. Not sure what private corporation will want to own Washington State Route 6.

  7. “Trump has promised to withhold all federal funds from Sanctuary Cities, of which Seattle is one.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t a sanctuary city knowingly violate federal immigration law? If we think the law is bad, shouldn’t we try to change the law instead of simply defying it? With the democratically controlled 111th congress and president Obama, shouldn’t we have tried to change the law then? I get the republican immigration agenda in Trump’s promise, and it does seem like selective enforcement, but isn’t it true that law and order only work when we willingly follow the law, and use proper channels to try to change it if we don’t like it?

    1. Someone can come along after me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that “Sanctuary City” is less of a legal definition than a marketing one. Immigration is solely a concern of the federal government. So-called Sanctuary Cities make it a policy that their local resources can’t be used for the enforcement of immigration laws. Police can, and do, arrest people for crimes and, if required by state or federal law, will check the person’s immigration status (usually for felonies) but otherwise don’t ask and don’t run raids on people suspected of violating immigration law. City services aren’t contingent on immigration status and city staff aren’t allowed to ask.

      Nothing at all prevents the federal government from using its own resources and law enforcement authority to enforce federal immigration law. A “Sanctuary City” simply declares that it won’t help, though it legally can’t hinder. This is, from a legal perspective, the same stance as marijuana. The state and local authorities won’t mess with it and we ask that the federal government stay out of it.

      (If this is too far afield from on topic here, my apologies.)

      1. So, if the above is true, what penalty can be attached to Sanctuary City status? Compare to the feds efforts to reduce speeds on interstate highways during the “double nickel” campaign. If states didn’t reduce their maximum speeds on highways to 55 mph, they would lose FHWA funds.

        Where’s the carrot for this policy? How could the government justify withholding funds if a city merely didn’t do something it wasn’t obligated to do in the first place? Exactly what funds are at sake?

        Most of Trump’s pronouncements about policy don’t seem to be well thought out. Already there’s been a lot of back-filling on ridiculous statements made during the campaign toward a more moderate policy. Hillary on the other hand was thoughtful about allmost of the things she said. That candor seemed to harm her during the election. The wild man won the day.

      2. The idea that Trump’s policy would withhold all federal funding from cities that have a policy of not checking people’s immigration status and not voluntarily giving the feds more information than they’re compelled to do, is very vague. The specific pieces of federal funding are established in probably hundreds of federal laws. Has his team gone through all of them and listed every law that would have to be changed, and written legislation to amend all of it. Maybe there are some things in there that even Trump wouldn’t want to cut off. Emergency preparedness comes to mind. And how are people from out of state supposed to drive on interstate highways that go through cities the federal government has cut off and the state can’t afford to maintain on its own?

        So it all depends on what concrete policy he would propose, or whether this was just campaign rhetoric, or whether he’ll look at the problem and realize it’s a lot more complex than the one-line slogan suggests.

        The worst would be if he looks at it and says, “I can’t pull all funding but I’m going to pull programs A. B. and C”, and they include important programs like transit and housing.

        The ironic thing is that Seattle and Puget Sound generate the majority of tax revenue in te state, and Washington state is a net contributor to the federal government so we’re subsidizing other states. And we’re told we can’t have any of that funding?

      3. There is a local counterpart to the idea of disposessing sanctuary cities of their funding. The Deep Bore Tunnel project has a provision that “Seattle-area residents who benefit from the tunnel will be taxed for cost overruns”:. That’s a similar kind of vague, and it’s widely believed to be unenforceable, because “the residents who benefit” is not a legal entity that can be taxed. While cities are entities, the overall effect is vague because most federal funds go to states, not directly to cities. Is the policy going to prohibit the states from spending any of the money in those cities? Can the federal government do that, when it has given the money to the state to spend as it sees fit?

    2. Yeah it’s more about what cities won’t do than what the feds have every right to do. Sanctuary Cities merely let the feds deal with immigration, as is their purview. As I understand it, sanctuary cities won’t check immigration status unless it’s secondary to a misdemeanor or higher crime. Other cities will ask for papers at every law enforcement interaction based on language, skin color, etc, such as interstate highway drug checkpoints or for parking tickets, etc.

      1. On the other hand, the Feds could easily subpoena or legally obtain records of individuals who are in jail, crosscheck those records with birth and immigration records, and capture those individuals and deport them.

      2. They could do that now if they wanted. But the feds don’t have millions of agents to check everybody who’s in jail, nor do they have a list of citizens if the state doesn’t maintain that list. What they have is a list of whom they’ve issued federal passports to, and now they’re starting to get a list of who has an enhanced drivers’ license. But that’s not all the citizens. For the rest of them somebody would have to go to the county they were born in and look up their birth certificate, and determine that that person is them.

      3. @ calwatch The best way to stop illegal immigration would be to crack down on employers who employ undocumented immigrants at criminally low rates, do an amnesty, and allow guest workers in. But building a huge wall sounds cool (but in reality is a completely ineffective boondoggle) to non-racists who don’t know much about it and appeals to racists who fear the “brown menace.”

    3. Alex, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it a Federal crime for citizens in free states to refuse to help return an escaped slave to his or her master. Which made garbage out of the Secessionist claim that “We’re only abiding by our own customs, not bothering you!”

      Also why Lincoln said that the United States could not remain half slave-holding and half free. Not just rhetoric. He knew that the South had powerful foreign allies, the British, and the French. Right now, change country to “Vladimir Putin’s Russia”.

      In fact, the only thing that prevented these the Europeans from invading and winning them the war was that their own people would not abide fighting for slavery. The fact that the South lost the war rather than free the slaves made their “not slavery, just independence” plea garbage with flies and maggots.

      So think about it. Would you have helped a master to drag a slave out your door in chains? Especially if you’d just married one?

      Mark Dublin

    4. The link to the Wikipedia page has a good description. It just means no stop and frisk for the hell of it if the police think someone might be illegal. Who in hell wants to waste their city police department money doing door to door fascist searches?

      This could get interesting. Washington DC is a sanctuary city too. This policy should last as long as it takes for federal offices to come to a complete halt.

    5. What federal immigration laws is Seattle’s city government currently violating? Please be specific.

      1. None. We just operate,our government in a manner where being poor, brown, or speaking with an accent is not sufficient cause for a police stop and immigration check.

      2. Really, you can’t do that in most any major city. A sheriff in some rural place where 99% of the population is white might get away with identifying potential outsiders by appearance. Trying that in the international district would be a preposterous waste of time and political goodwill.

  8. Trump will probably deliver on some parts of his campaign “platform” (racism, xenophobia anyone?), but it is far from clear that the urban vs rural thing is one of them.

    Rural America just flipped a giant collective bird to urban America, but to do so they elected the most urban president in American history. Trump probably has never walked across an open field in his life, and his only experiance with “cow” is probably as a term of misogyny. It is hard to imagine this urban playboy suddenly becoming a knight in shinning armor who rescues rural America from all that ails it.

    But we will see. Trump will be very unpredictable, and he is likely to be very ineffective. There is danger in that, but urban vs rural is far from my first concern.

    But we need to do continue doing what we know is right – fight discrimination in all it’s forms, promote equality and basic humanity, support environmental and urban goals, and keep moving forward.

    1. He already seems to be delivering on getting out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, a point on which some progressives have been quietly or not so quietly rejoicing. NAFTA and GATT2 cost Gore a lot of votes, I still believe. Heck, it was probably the chief reason Ralph Nader intervened in the 2000 race. TPP may have done the same to Clinton, even if it wasn’t a priority for her. Getting Union endorsements doesn’t get you union voters, if union voters realize the union bosses are looking the other way on big-ticket union issues.

      (Sorry if this is drifting off-topic, but if this is open game for analysis of what went wrong for Clinton, that’s a major piece of mine.)

    2. I suspect he throws some campaign promise red meat to his base, many of these will be fairly easy… justices/court appointments, sanctuary cities policy, executive orders, taxes, Obamacare then runs the campaign he wants and that keeps him in general good standing nationally. There’s some reason to believe in the last few days that he has changed his harsh tone, we shall see. There will also no doubt be big fights, I suspect Obamacare will be one and among the earliest, I think its a goner either way (its been kind of imploding anyway), hopefully that becomes an obstructing hurdle that delays and expends a lot of his political capital on dismantling it.

      It will be interesting what comes of his “inner cities” policies for “The Blacks”, seems to be of particular interest to him personally. Does he actually pursue it?

      I do fear Seattle will make up for the lost Federal money due to sanctuary cities at all costs, greatly harming the city’s finances by taking on that burden.

      1. Well. We know what he said about cutting funding to sanctuary cities, but let’s see what he actually does. Because if he follows through that would mean cutting all federal funding to the big three – New York, LA, and Washington DC. I personally don’t think he will do it, and if he does then let the fun begin.

      2. Would cutting off New York adversely affect Trump’s real-estate properties in New York? Inquiring minds want to know.

        If it sends the city into a tailspin and it has to drastically cut services, you’d think that would affect the operations and value of Trump’s properties in the city.

    3. No one knows what Trump will do because his campaign was contradictory. He wasn’t even a Republican until he started running. A lot of his promises aren’t even close to being constitutional. Not only would there be a 9-0 vote against a religious test for citizenship, but even Scalia would rise from the dead and strike it down.

      In my opinion the most powerful man in the country right now is Paul Ryan. He controls the House with a very strong hand. This wouldn’t matter that much if Trump understood Washington, but he doesn’t. He has absolutely no experience with government. Sometimes this responsibility falls to the Vice President, which is why governors often select senators or representatives to be their running mate. But he picked a governor. There are rumors that Newt Gingrich will have a big role in the administration, which will give Trump more power. But Newt has been out of the game a long time, and I doubt he would water down Ryan’s extreme agenda. In short, if Ryan passes a budget that pleases the most powerful, most active and aggressive part of his party (the Tea Party) my guess is that Trump will grudgingly go along. It is possible the Senate will water things down a bit, but I would assume that we are basically in for cuts, cuts, cuts. Tax cuts and expenditure cuts will dominate Congress and it is hard to imagine much money going to the cities.

  9. I guess I really wouldn’t look too deeply into the meaning of this election as it applies to the urban vs rural divide.

    The choice was a candidate with deep ties to the Mercer family and its hedge funds but successfully portraying himself to many as an anti-establishment candidate, and another with severe ties to other money interests.

    An awful lot of African-American urban communities weren’t too happy about what the drug war (expanded under Bill Clinton’s administration) has done to huge swaths of their communities.

    Clinton claimed to be better on the environment, but there is no real evidence she would do much to stop the devastation of Bureau of Land Management lands to extract oil and coal.

    If the choice were really clearly a progressive and urbanist candidate vs a rancher from Wyoming or something, then maybe you could read more into this election.

    In the end, we wound up with two deeply unpopular candidates.

    The urban vs rural divide is certainly an issue, but the real issue in this election cycle has more to say about getting worthwhile candidates to run and the corporate ties of those who run. The unfortunate condition of big money in politics wrecks havoc with both urban and rural issues.

    There is much to be said about those issues, but all of that is off topic on a transit blog. The fact of the matter is that on many issues there really isn’t that big of a divide if you talk to people about their actual positions on things. It’s much easier for the big money to win if they divide and conquer, so that is what they do.

  10. In view of past practice, a couple of sentences from the Republican President Elect indicates danger considerably beyond budgetary threats and land use patterns.

    According to Mr. Trump, protesters these last couple of nights were “paid demonstrators.” Not the first time he’s said this, or things like it. Normal most negative response from a winning candidate would be: “Sore losers!” Or “Proof that people really do need jobs!” Or “Come on, kids, I spent my whole day yesterday signing autographs!”

    Some perspective here. One, Donald Trump is proud of a career-long pattern of suing people who criticize him. Never wins, but enough damage done to discourage repeat. He’s also been known to say he’ll pay the legal bills of followers who assault protesters, including a man in handcuffs. Though doubt the defendant ever saw a check.

    But really dangerous is a campaign manager coming out of the Breitbart organization. Google it. These people are experts in a video manipulation technique only recently even possible. Viewers will see people who seem to be saying the opposite of what the camera really caught.

    Among other skills. Breitbart got a black woman staff member fired from Department of Agriculture for appearing to insult a white farmer she was actually promising to help.

    Grateful that the woman had the fortitude to tell her boss, the Democratic Secretary of Agriculture, where to plant his apology for summarily firing her. Breitbart are also a major reason Planned Parenthood got literally thrown out of government programs in several states.

    Using excuse of short funds, courts run by State and local governments of both parties now regularly jail defendants who can’t pay fines and court costs for contempt. Libel suits could replace rubber bullets for crowd control. For very early warm-up.

    Mr. Trump’s under the breath promise to put Hilary Clinton in jail shows neither knowledge nor use for the judicial system whose chief prosecutor he’ll appoint.

    Unfortunately, some reading Mr. Trump’s career achievement requires: “The Fault Line”, by Paolo Rumiz.

    Should be positive when we get a President who finally lives in and understands The Real World As It Exists. But the world our Republican candidate inhabits, understands, and has friends who are Chiefs of States of, will make Americans, kept lifelong clueless with great effort, wet their pants.

    Russia early on assured that extractive resources world didn’t have to wait ’til Inauguration 2017 to rip the skin off the world all the way around the Arctic Circle.

    And good chance every single public official between Germany’s eastern border and Vladivostok is a gangster who’d make Al Capone look like a cute little altar boy. And not only does Vladimir Putin’s career include head of the KGB for experience with democraty.

    An eons-long Russian approach to Government in general and realistic existential threats in particular… we gratefully can’t conceive. Of all the year-full of questions the media didn’t ask either candidate, most pertinent one would have been:

    “As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, what will you do if your European commander communicates that Russian troops are invading Latvia?”

    Leaving us the People of The United States of America our own main question. How do we get Congress and every State legislature we can grab back in 2018?

    Good first “plank” could be to offer living wage work to everybody sixteen and older. Starting in Aberdeen. Not one make-work dime. Since our State and Nation are literally falling apart, poison water, earthquake-dangerous highways and all, we’re plenty stimulated enough.

    Funding? Call BS on the right wing’s lie about accounting itself. Deficit? Say I’ve got a business leveled by an explosion, or a quake. My banker would demand that I run whatever deficit I need- the USA probably doesn’t need any- to start producing again. And, as I’ve given him the right to expect, pay him back with interest. As usual.

    Despite what majority party in Congress says- maybe since by outlook they’re gamblers rather than capitalists- no banker will take an industry ruined by deferred maintenance as evidence of fiscal prudence. Let alone collateral. Worked for Franklin Roosevelt. Look him up too.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “The Fault Line”

      I haven’t read it, but the short description reminds me of a few other books.

      Thomas Friedman: “From Beirut to Jerusalem” (1989). An American journalist reports in Beirut during the civil war, and then in Jerusalem during the beginning of the Intifada. (Interestingly, wen he crossed into Israel the border guard just glanced at the American passport and registered him as Christian without asking his religion, even though he’s actually Jewish.)

      Robert Kaplan: “The Ends of the Earth: from Togo to Turklenistan, from Iran to Cambodia — A Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy” (1996) and “An Empire Wilderness: Travels into American’s Future” (1998). He spends months traveling in the target region interviewing the ordinary forgotten people in society, and he suggests that gives insight into where the region is headed. He follows the philosophy of, “To see where a culture is going, look at its edges. The things stirring there are what will become big later.” In the first book he travels from West Africa across the Third World to Iran, Eastern Europe, and East Asia. He considers India the most resilient, as its poor people were busy solving their practical problems and working for a better future. In contrast, in Togo the poor people he saw seemed to be despairing and not doing anything. In Iran, people were moving toward the future in spite of the oppressive regime. In Turkmenistan he said that whatever amount of India-like self-drive they earlier had was completely destroyed by forty years of the Soviet system. In the second book he takes the same approach to the western US, and travels from Washington to California looking at the cultural edges and forgotten people. I read it so long ago I don’t remember the details. I should probably read it again to see how much he got right.

      And Joel Garreau: The Nine Nations of North America (1981). He was a newspaper editor who sent his reporters around the country, and tried to make sense of the vastly different attitudes they were finding in different regions. He proposes that North America is actually nine “nations” (regional cultures) that span the US, Canada, and northern Mexico, each with a different attitude and viewpoint. I found it a good book, although I’m not so happy with his other one “Edge City” which recommends car-dependent decentralization and suburbanism.

      1. Edge City is really interesting, though, when read for the facts more than the opinions. It does a reasonable job explaining how and why cities form in auto-centric patterns today and why, once they’re built, they’re so resistant to change, even when people want something different.

      2. Still highly recommend “The Lunatic Express”, by Carl Hoffman. Round the world trip on transportation most of the world’s people use.

        Couple of interesting cultural observations. One is that in many, if not most cultures, people feel more comfortable packed together than not. Meaning, maybe, that after a couple of decades nobody will be complaining about crowding on LINK, except when ridership is too light.

        Though it looks like with a hundred percent certainty, there’ll be street food and coffee on this mezzanines.

        But another thing the author noticed I’ve definitely seen first-hand. He noted that the only part of his trip he really hated was the ride between our West and East Coasts on Greyhound.

        He confirmed, along with my own experience, another writer’s assessment that while that bus line used to mean freedom for people without much money, it’s now mindful of going to jail. You’re not allowed to take pictures on Greyhound property.

        And remembering Greyhound, also related to a woman’s brief description on the radio about losing all her possessions in a flood. When she went to a welfare office and asked if someone would give her one chair.

        The official on duty told her she had to attend a session on resume writing. She told them she couldn’t attend because she had to go to work. So too bad, no chair.

        Her take was that the system deliberately included a myriad of contradictory hoops to jump through with a purpose in mind: To teach poor people their place. Greyhound definitely carried that sense to me.

        Only personnel on station duty were private guards. Both our drivers had the passenger-handling approach of two twin ugly disgraces to the correctional system of any State. Including a long string of abusive threats by way of smoking rules and such that these guys thought were funny.

        Recent visit to East Africa confirmed another observation of mine. That we could be the world’s most unhappy people in general. Whatever it is, we’d better have a workable cure underway well before November 2018.


  11. I’m not sure Trump really can remove all Federal funds from any kind of “blacklist” of cities. Congress makes a lot of these decisions, often embedded in unrelated pieces of legislature. The Constitution gives the purse strings to the House of Representatives, which can (in theory, at least) be completely replaced in two years. For better or worse, it’s still in the Reps’ best interest to bring home the “pork.” Now Trump’s appointees may well make rules that skew things against progressive city centers for future funding, but if they try to do an outright moratorium on Federal funds and/or take away funds already committed, you have to imagine that ends up in Federal courts, perhaps even the Supreme Court. While Federal funding will most likely decrease in the coming years, I doubt it’ll be cut to anywhere near zero.

  12. “Thanks to the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton’s votes were worth 0.76 compared to Trump’s votes. I had no idea the gender wage gap applies to Presidential votes, too. But of course it does. ”

    As much as I dislike Trump and the electoral college, I have to call out that Tom’s math relies on a very selective sample. In the 2012 election, Obama got 332 electorial votes and 51.1% of the populate vote (,_2012). 51.1% of popular votes for 61.7% of the electoral votes means, by Tom’s math, that each Obama vote was worth about 1.2 times as much as each Romney vote.

    I guess my main take is that while the electoral college tends to exaggerate the gap, and only actually choose the winner when the popular vote is very close. For a candidate to have 25% more votes and still lose the election would be totally unprecedented.

    1. There are a bunch of ways to measure it, of course. One would be to simply calculate how many electoral college votes you get in your state. This doesn’t vary race by race. If you live in California, your vote counts a lot less than if you live in Montana.

      Another way to consider it is how much your vote played in electing the President. It really doesn’t matter how much you win by, which is why you are right, the numbers you mentioned don’t make much sense. You only need to win, which is why in the case of Obama (or Reagan, Nixon or just about every winner) it doesn’t matter. It is only when they don’t match up, as in the case of Gore/Bush and the latest election. In that case, the difference isn’t that big. I don’t feel like doing the math, but if you can win with less than a percentage more than your opponent, then your vote counts for more, but not that much more. Not as much as if you count it the other way, for example.

  13. “We need to do everything we can to actively roll out the welcome mat, and let cities work their serendipitous magic to shape hearts and minds.”

    Attitude problem here. A welcome mat presumes a one way inbound trip. Meaning that, well, everybody knows life is so hopelessly blighted in the rest of the State that the best we can do for people is to make more room for them in the urbanized part of the State.

    How about persuading industries of all sizes to relocate where industries used to be. Metalline Falls, for instance? I personally wouldn’t mind seeing Amazon go provide paychecks to give young working people a life across the Mountains.

    Would definitely make Seattle a less crowded place. Would also allow parking arrangement in South Lake Union that didn’t include giving publicly trained policemen traffic guard duty to let anything get in or out during rush hour.

    Might make I-5 less stationary. But best of all, before too long, a lot of legislators would notice that not all their constituents see no reason to pay for schools. Or transportation besides their cars.

    Also, as far as transit and land use themselves go, I’ve always rejected the idea that if people and their transit are not located in large cities, they’re wastefully sprawled. My dream is a day’s, or more, train travel with views of well designed towns interspersed with woods, lakes, and fields.

    Have also advocated that transit itself go back to residential and commercial centers specifically designed for, and equipped with, rail tracks and connections. Would create a lot less animosity over possible commutes.


  14. Kids, kids, kids! I have indeed failed you for your lack of critical thinking! You only see the veil, and not what is behind it. You only see the symptom – and have ignored the cause. Haven’t you figured it out yet? The Australian One. The Australian One. You emote, you wring, you impale yourself with regret – when you should have seen it all along. Two decades. You ignored it with bliss and annoyance. Repetition, persistence, patience. Repetition, persistence, patience. The weak mind never knows and the strong mind ignores. They are both weak indeed, and they deserve their just rewards. The water drips, the mountain crumbles. Adages from the ancients – they still hold true. The Australian One. The Australian One. Obvious power is no power at all. Hidden power is the all. Power behind the power is the all. And the key to that Power is to muddle the mind with emotion. Truth is not needed. Lies are not needed. Innuendo is King. Repetition, persistence, patience. How much more do you need to know? You are all his pawns. The Australian One. The Australian Won.

  15. Getting rid of the electoral college is not as far-fetched as many people think. Would you be surprised to know states can to this through legislation, with no need for a constitutional amendment? States can simply agree to give their electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote.

    Even less known is that states with 160 electoral votes have already enacted this legislation. If/when states with 270 electoral votes pass it, we then have National Popular Vote, which is both more democratic and would be a boon to our cities.

    (On a side note, it would also transform politics and especially presidential campaigning. Campaigns are waged exclusively in swing states, with money stops in a few others. With NPV, and each vote counting equally, candidates would compete in all kinds of places they are never seen now.)

  16. “If we have literally nothing to say to rural America, they will listen to those who do. If we don’t invest our time and political energy in the suburbs and exurbs, we will lose them too. This election should make it clear that we cannot count on growing progressive urbanism via rural attrition.”

    Well written. I have plenty of old friends who I left behind in the rural industrial Midwest. Some still farm. A few even still work in manufacturing. Nearly all of them felt no connection whatsoever to Hillary Clinton. She was the wrong candidate and carried the wrong message. My birth county – population 40,000 – went 81 percent to Trump. We need to do better than 19 percent of the vote in rural America if we want to win an election. I am not sure how the primary didn’t go to the guy who wanted to lift up the middle class and hold the wealthy accountable.

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