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View Diary: Cars Cause Republicanism (338 comments)

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  •  seriously, i think it's the other way around (4.00)
    cars/distance don't cause Republicanism/conservatism, but having to live in close proximity with other people causes liberalism.  You have to care more about other people when you see them every day and have their needs right in your face.

    If you get tired of having to take other people's needs into consideration all the time, you move farther and farther away and/or spend more time trying to find isolation within the city (single person car use, doormen, etc.).  but if you find a place in yourself that is willing to compromise and enter into an idea of the common good, by necessity you become more liberal.  the biggest problem I see with conservatives in the last 25 years is a "my needs always come first" emphasis that treats the common good as disposable and even an object of derision.

    I don't have a link but I've read this theory elsewhere, and I think there is really something to it.  the more time you spend encountering and taking seriously the needs of people who are different from you, the more likely you are to care about whether their needs get met (even at the occasional cost of compromising your own needs), which is a pretty basic working definition of what it means to be liberal.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:34:56 AM PST

    •  Both may be true (none)
      In fact, it would stand to be likely that if living in close proximity and learning to live in harmony caused a leftward bent, living in isolated exurbs where your neighbor is a stranger is likely to cause a rightward drift. To take one view exclusively is a tip off to ones beliefs about human nature, which in fact is complex and unknowable. Are we naturally compassionate and generous but made selfish and brutal by cars, freeways and suburban sprawl or are we naturally selfish and mean but made kinder and softer by proximity to others and forced sharing.

      Of course it's probably more complicated. There can be little doubt though, that most of us who've had varied living experinces would agree that there is some sort of correlation between housing density and willingness to compromise and work things out. When I have lived in moderately dense neighborhoods, I have found there is a greater tendency to be polite and friendly with neighbors, all pulling together to get along and get things done and voting for better sevices. When I have lived where there are greater spreads, people know each other less and vote for lower taxes.

      One glaring exception seems to occur when density gets too high (often coexisting with poverty nad disenfranchisment) a certain element who perhaps would be inclied to run away if they had resources, instead turns into a predator destroying his neighbors.

      •  Actually... (4.00)
        Once you hit urban densities, as density increases, crime decreases. Check out Christopher Alexander's book "A Pattern Language" for statistics - once you get past the point where there are too few people for crime, the more eyes you put on the street, the less crime you have.

        by Bensch on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:08:51 PM PST

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        •  Hmmm (none)
          I would not be shocked by that. In the USA, the densest municipalities (with the exception of Boston) tend to have pretty high crime rates, though the very densest neighborhoods in them do tend to be more moderate-crime neighborhoods, with the highest crime rates in the depopulated, blighted neighborhoods. Once you factor in Europe and Asia, as well as Latin America and Africa, I would not be surprised that dense cities have far less crime than the less dense suburbs and shanty towns. I'll have to take a look at A Pattern Language, it's been recommended to me by people I trust.
          •  A Pattern Language (none)
            Is filled with a lot of good ideas. And many wacky ones.

            Gotta love those new urbanists. For instance, Kunstler says horizontal windows are bad for people (make us think of death). Where do they get this stuff?  Horizontal windows make me absurdly happy.

            "I am Joe's raging bile duct."

            by Floja Roja on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:04:48 PM PST

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            •  I don't see any reason to equate the two. (none)
              Pattern Language is almost entirely backed up by studies of psychology, and is well vetted. There are wacky ideas, but they tend to work - and well - even if not for the reasons presented.


              by Bensch on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 10:58:37 AM PST

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