Urban Agenda -- 21st Century Political Renewal


Reprinted w/permission-Washington Post Writers Group & the artist

Building a pro-city platform and Urban Agenda for the next Presidential campaign & locally.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The suburban agenda moves forward, where's the urban agenda?

(This blog entry was first published in Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space).

I've always been a little embarassed being seen reading the Washington Times, given its hard right credentials and ownership by the Unification Church. Their political orientation significantly shapes the front section, and especially their op-ed section and editorial page. But the paper is well-designed, and scrappy in its coverage of local issues in the Business and Metropolitan sections, and the Sports section is good, with some excellent columnists. And local columnists Adrienne Washington and Tom Knott are decent too. I like that they have a big op-ed section, even though I almost never read it, because the politics of the writers are so much different than mine. (Actually it's somewhat the same when reading the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Very conservative editorial and op-ed page, but with the benefit of a fair number of wacky letters to the editor.)

So I missed this piece from two months ago, by Rep. Mark Kirk, "A Suburban Agenda". (Also see "GOP agenda eyes suburban appeal" from the Washington Times and this syndicated column by Morton Kondracke, "GOP ‘Suburban Agenda’ gains traction on Hill.")

A suburban agenda in Congress? Where's the urban agenda in Congress? Right now if you do a google search for "urban agenda" and "Congress" the number one hit is my Urban Agenda blog. Not good...

The suburban agenda is designed to better connect Republicans to suburban voters and the issues they care about. Many of the issues, if you ask me, aren't what federal legislators ought to be focused on, but that's my opinion.
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Last summer, Congressional Quarterly reported that effective with the 2000 Census, the majority of districts in the U.S. House of Representatives are suburban. See this blog entry, "The suburbs are now the majority in the House of Representatives," from Urban Agenda.

From the article:

Congress must solve problems that people care about most. We need to win the war on terror and solve our immigration problems. But if we stop there, Congress will fall short of its potential to improve the lives of the American people.

The customary divisions between Democrats and Republicans often reflect a divide betweenurban and rural communities. In the last election, Republicans commanded rural votes while Democrats dominated the urban vote. Their votes represented a standard vision of American politics that is completely out of date. Today, most Americans do not live in urban or rural communities -- they live in suburban communities. ...

In short, the Suburban Agenda reflects a dozen policy initiatives including:
School Safety Acquiring Faculty Excellence Act (introduced by Rep. Jon Porter, Nevada Republican), which will allow school boards to screen criminal records of applicants for coach and teacher positions to make sure out-of-state pedophiles or felons are not put in charge of classrooms.
The 401 Kids Family Savings Accounts (introduced by Rep. Clay Shaw, Florida Republican), which will build on the success of 401(k) plans by establishing tax-deferred savings for kids from birth to pay for education or the purchase of a first home.
The Health Information Technology Promotion Act (introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson, Connecticut Republican), which will build on the Veterans Administration's success by accelerating the deployment of fully electronic medical records to improve care and reduce errors.
The Deleting Online Predators Act (introduced by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican), which will protect children from online predators, especially the more than 10 million American kids whose data appear on social networkingsites such as MySpace.com.
The Open Space and Farmland Preservation Act (introduced by Rep. Jim Gerlach, Pennsylvania Republican), which will establish grant programs to protect more suburban green and open space.

The Gang Elimination Act of 2006 (introduced by Rep. Dave Reichert, Washington Republican), which will set federal policy to combat drug gangs now fighting suburban police departments.
As much as I am politically disaffected when it comes to national issues, there's no question that the Urban Agenda needs to be developed and moved forward to the national political agenda.

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