The Economic Crisis May Also Alter the American Political Landscape

George Packer in the New Yorker discusses how America may become even more divided as a result of the Economic Meltdown.

Florida the urban theorist is making the case that success will depend on America becoming less like Florida the state, and more like Europe: fewer homeowners, smaller homes, more renters, denser cities, fewer cars. The article is a big-picture extrapolation of some of the themes suggested in my piece “The Ponzi State.” (Pam Iorio, the mayor of Tampa, and Ben Eason, the publisher of the alternative weekly Creative Loafing, made very similar predictions as they fretted about the future of Tampa in the wake of the housing collapse.)

One implication that Florida’s piece doesn’t mention and mine only glanced at is the political changes that will come with this new national geography. The landscape of the future seems more favorable to Democrats than Republicans. And the country seems at risk of dividing into wealthier, better educated, more liberal cities, where new populations will flow, and poorer, less educated, more conservative suburbs and rural areas, where the populations will grow sparser. This transformation might usher in a new era of liberal ascendancy, but it will bring new problems, new inequalities, new resentments.


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