The Times is Talking About Cities, But Why Aren’t the Candidates?
An editorial in today's Times, "In Search of a Real Urban Policy," discusses the lack of urban policy in this year's presidential campaign. Despite the fact that over 80% of Americans live in cities and their metro areas, presidential candidates have spent more stump speech time on corn than urban issues such as infrastructure, crime, and education. As the Times says,
"By now, many Americans have heard the presidential candidates talk about issues close to the heart of rural America. They fell all over themselves to praise ethanol in Iowa and condemn nuclear storage in Nevada. But as important as rural problems are, they’re not nearly as big as the task of helping the nation’s struggling cities — where most Americans live or work. The cities have been the hardest hit as federal policies have failed or gone missing in education, housing, health care, jobs, transportation and environment, to name a few. Yet urban issues have gotten scant attention in this campaign."
This past December, DMI collaborated with The Nation to produce MayorTV, a collection of video interviews with 10 mayors from across the country. As Boston mayor Tom Menino said, "Because Washington has no urban agenda, the cities in this country are doing poorly. Unemployment is up. Faith in the economy has gone down. Crime has gone up." Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, agreed. "Whether it's poverty, work and opportunity, bolstering the middle class, housing or infrastructure," he said, "it is absolutely criminal that the federal government has failed to address these issues."
When viewed as a whole, the series of MayorTV interviews leads to much the same conclusion that the Times' editorial board and syndicated columnist Neal Peirce have drawn: Cities matter, and discussions about urban issues have been glaringly absent from the candidates' websites, stump speeches, and policy conversations.
We here at DMI applaud the Times for their discussion of cities on the editorial page today. Now if only the presidential candidates would follow suit.