October 26, 2006

"The center of political gravity will shift."

David Brooks is making predictions again:
In the liberal era, the urban Northeast dominated the landscape. In the conservative era, it was in the South and in bedroom communities like those in Southern California. In the coming era, the center of gravity will move to the West and the Midwestern plains, and to the pragmatic, untethered office park suburbs sprouting up there.
(TimesSelect link.)

Is something going to happen out here in the Midwest? I sure hope so.

27 comments:

Derve said...

Is something going to happen out here in the Midwest? I sure hope so.

It's happening already, Ann.*
In the exoburbs.

Head up to Western Wisconsin, outside Minneapolis St.Paul. The office parks, housing with decent lots, new schools and roads.

Try Northwest Indiana, outside Chicago. You may have avoided toll road congestion, but that area's been building for years.

Northern Chicago sprawls to the Wisconsin border now, homes and communities sprouting out of the farmfields.

New growth. New WalMarts, new upscale malls. (The WalMarts tend to come first.) New opportunities. The chance to "forget" some of the urban problems and locked-in structures that formerly confined. New schools. New fast food places. New movie houses. Clean, A fresh start. A new beginning.

And right now, often very Republican.
-------
*Madison is EastCoastlite, not the Midwest. Fire up that Audi, get out of the car, talk to people, and stay for more than a day? You really should get over that public accomodations fear; no 4-stars out in the exoburbs ... yet.
;-)

MadisonMan said...

The nation certainly could use a good dose of good old Midwestern Common Sense and politeness.

Sloanasaurus said...

Madison will be excluded from this power.

Surburbs are where all the growth is in the midwest. In 20 years most young adults will have been born and raised in suburbs. I lived in a residential section of the city for 8 years before moving to the burbs. I love the city, however, it is a poor place to raise kids. If you have kid. You move to the burbs - thats where families and kids live now.

Dave said...

"If you have kid. You move to the burbs - thats where families and kids live now."

So why is my apartment building littered with kids? Why is every apartment building I've ever lived in littered with kids? Why do mothers with double-wide strollers take up the whole hallway when I'm walking to my apartment.

They must be a figment of my imagination. Because no kids live in cities.

Jim said...

I spent a decade one year in Cedar Rapids.

Mike said...

Is something going to happen out here in the Midwest? I sure hope so.

NO!!! Stay Away!! Nothing to see here! Move along, move along!

Derve said...

Dave:
Are those documented kids?
*kidding!*

Dave said...

Derve: they're whiter than bleached flour. If not citizens they're parents are here on work visas. All white collar professionals.

The idea that cities are devoid of kids is laughable. Their parents jack up real estate prices for the rest of us.

B. P. Beckley said...

derve:

I don't think the growth of suburbs or exurbs around a big city proves that much, except that the city in question isn't completely moribund. The suburban growth may just be the city adapting to the current reality, and the current reality is suburban, pretty much, with pockets of urbanist impetus.

I don't see the political center of gravity shifting to the midwest unless people start moving to it instead of away from it, or unless the relative amount of economic growth here with respect to other regions of the country changes. Does Brooks claim either one of these things is happening?

I could imagine that life in the big attractive cities outside the midwest (NYC, Washington, LA, SF, whatever) has gotten so painful and/or expensive that people are looking for alternatives, and these midwestern cities with their relatively cheap housing and unuderused urban infrastructure look attractive.

If there is some kind of midwestern rennaisance, I certainly hope Cleveland manages to participate...

Internet Ronin said...

Let's see...

The 2004 election was decided in Ohio.

The 2000 election was decided in Florida but Wisconsin and Iowa were almost as important.

Control of the US Senate could be decided by races in Missouri, Ohio, and Montana.

Control of the House of Representaitves could be decided by races in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa.

Works for me. For the moment.

Derve said...

I don't see the political center of gravity shifting to the midwest unless people start moving to it instead of away from it

Well, you do meet the occasional West- and East-Coaster, relocating for cheap land and an "all-American" place to raise the kids.

Nice new hockey rinks too.

tiggeril said...

An era with a new appreciation for fried food and mysterious meatstuffs? I'm all for it!

(Dibs on the Maid-Rites!)

Brent said...

Madison Man,

Having spent a bit of my childhood in the early suburbs of Kansas City and visiting since then relatives in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois, the Midwest character has its pluses.

The main flaws? Everyone has their nose in everyone else's business. Did you see her hair? Everyone has an opinion on EVERYONE else. Well, if they'd just shut up once in awhile. Most of them are unfailingly polite to your face, but, like the British, they are quietly convinced that they are better than you.

The true Wisteria Lanes are in the Midwest.

LarryK said...

Brook's prediction seems particularly "untethered", to use his phrase, to anything concrete other than a vague sense that things are changing. I think the real issue is, who is most likely to set the tone of political debate going forward? Who from the midwest is a serious contender for that title - Feingold? Obama? Get real...the tone going forward is likely to be set by Hillary, McCain, Rudy and Mitt. My bold prediction is that the last two on this list will be the next President and Vice President, respectively. So ironically, geographically things are shifting back to the Northeast, but to very canny Northeastern politicians who don't fit any preconceived stereotypes and have broad national appeal. This will be good for the GOP but, even more importantly, good for the country and the red-blue divide that some pundits apparently believe is now hardwired.

dick said...

Brent,

Spend some time around a bunch of New Yorkers or Californians some time. Then you wil know what a bunch of people who think they know it all are like. I will take the Mid-Westerners any time over the hypocrites from the coasts.

Mike said...

The day after the 2004 Presidential election, The New York Times ran a story interviewing New Yorkers on their view of the results and why they differed from the Midwest. One woman explained the monolithic Kerry vote in New York versus the 50/50 split in the Midwest as "in New York we think for ourselves while in the Midwest everyone just votes as their friends tell them to."

MadisonMan said...

Yes, they're all individuals there in New York. I can hear them shouting that en masse now!

If everyone is voting how their friends tell them to here -- does the 50/50 split in WI say more about the number of conservatives vs. liberals, or about the number of friends that conservatives have vs the number of friends liberals have?

Brent said...

dick,

There's problems with people everywhere, I would agree.

But I'll take coastal know-it-alls over Midwestern better-than-thous most days, and be thankful I only vacation and holiday with the b-t-t's.

Revenant said...

Spend some time around a bunch of New Yorkers or Californians some time. Then you wil know what a bunch of people who think they know it all are like.

I'll have you know I thought I knew it all *well* before I moved from flyover country to California.

Seriously, though, I grew up in a flyover state and people there were just as convinced they knew everything about California as Californians are that they know everything about flyover country. People generally think southern California is either a modern-day Sodom or like something from "The O.C.".

dick said...

I also grew up in a flyover state and now am retired in New York. That is why I say that New Yorkers think they know it all.

Check out that dingbat who wrote the book about Kansas and how the people there don't vote the way they should. Take a look at Charlie Rangel or Nadler some time. Take Jon Corzine - PLEASE!! Then tell me how wonderful it is to live in the coastal areas.

Brent said...

dick,

The socialist(idiot) that wrote What's the Matter With Kansas was Thomas Frank.

Who grew up in Kansas City.

Another example of Midwestern better-than-thou's

Wanna challenge me again?

dick said...

But Thomas Frank wrote this not from Kansas but from the standpoint of Washington, DC. That is the point. Whether he was born in the Midwest is of no consequence. He no longer has the values of the Midwest and makes that point in his book.

Your move.

Revenant said...

Check out that dingbat who wrote the book about Kansas and how the people there don't vote the way they should

Yeah, but I have to contrast that with the prevailing flyover country view that California consists of nothing but "fruits, nuts, and flakes". Actually I find a lot less ignorance in Calfornia about the rest of the country than I find in the rest of the country about California -- if only because almost none of the people I know here are actually *from* here.

Brent said...

dick,

then perhaps that would make Franks an example of that even more terrifying species:

the know-it-all-better-than-thou,

whose adjusted acronym is KIABUTT.

I fold.

dick said...

Revenant,

My comment about the left coast is based on my experiences in the service. I was sgt in charge of a message center with 14 people - one from Vermont, one from Rhode Island and 12 native-born Californians. I also based it on visits to friends in Los Angeles, San Diego and Carmel.

The people I met from California (almost all native) and the people I know in New York and Massachusetts all share one belief. Civilization ends at the border of their state. The other beliefs are that the flyover country exists to feed them and supply their wants and then be told how to vote and think. When they don't you get the comments like Franks makes in his book. Personally I think that the people in flyover know very well whot to vote for and why most of the time and know it far better than the people on the coasts.

Revenant said...

The people I met from California (almost all native) and the people I know in New York and Massachusetts all share one belief. Civilization ends at the border of their state.

Not sure how that's different from how midwesterners see the world. There's certainly a mentality in flyover country that they're the "real Americans", in spite of the fact that the majority of Americans live on the coasts. The attitude is exacerbated somewhat by the fact that flyover country has a disproportionate amount of power in Congress and in Presidential elections due to the two-senators-per-state thing.

Coco said...

Derve: As someone from "Northwest Inidana, outside Chicago", I can tell you that its very Democrat - actually until the last couple of years when the feds have begun prosecuting left and right, it was one of the last bastions of the old time Democratic machine. Its also not very fresh, there are no upscale malls, actually there's not a lot to do at all (although there LOTS of fast food joints many of them have been around for 20 plus years). And as a former hub of manufacturing, it is definitely not very clean. There are newer school buildings but the schools themselves are not very good. And the area has a net population loss over the last few decades since it went into post-industrial decline. But, its home!