Palin Nomination Leading to Unwarranted Attacks on Small Towns

You don’t have to believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice-President, much less President - I certainly don’t - to understand that her nomination has unsettled many people in our big metropolitan centers. The very idea that a former Alaskan small town Mayor being selected for such high office has elicited an outpouring of scorn towards micropolitan and small town America.

One prominent recent example is the article by Jennifer Bradly and Bruce Katz entitled “Village Idiocy” published in the Oct. 8 issue of the New Republic. Bruce, who is a very influential figure in urban policy circles, finds praise for small town values an “understandable fantasy.”

In reality most Americans, as he points out, live in big metro areas. That’s the level where Brookings, and most of our leading policy commentators, believe political power and decision-making should be concentrated - when Washington is not the preferred option.

Yet Bruce and other compulsive centralizers forget that over one-third of Americans still would like to live in small towns or the countryside – roughly twice as many who want to live in his beloved, high-density cities. Migration patterns show that Americans are moving, on net, more to mid-sized and smaller cities, and within the metropolitan areas, away from the central cities. If the benefits of small town living is a “fantasy,” it’s a widely shared one.

Even residents of metropolitan areas often regard themselves as residents of their local town or neighborhood. Most local governments remain small-scale, particularly in the vast suburban hinterlands.

Few residents of greater Los Angeles, for example, feel an emotional allegiance to the “region,” much less than shadowy Southern California Association of Governments. Instead we identify with Irvine or Burbank, Riverside or Ontario. Even those of us who live within the borders of the city of Los Angeles, tend to consider ourselves residents of Valley Village, Leimart Park, Koreatown or Highland Park. If anything has gotten strong in LA over the past three decades, it’s identification with neighborhoods.

Katz and many of his regionalist colleagues would prefer that all of us look to some centralized regional authority for leadership and inspiration. Although regional organizations have their place, the notion of local control will continue to possess great appeal. Even the nomination of Sarah Palin won’t change that.

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Silly comparison

You can not compare Wasilla, AK and Ontario, CA.
Wasilla has a population of 9K in a state with 0.7M people while Ontario has a population of 170K in a state of 30M.

Ontario is a city. A mid-sized city, but a city none the less.

Scorn directed at a towns of 9K is warranted. Not large enough to sustain decent services and a diverse population.

Dave Barnes

your response


i was not comparing wasilla with ontario, where i have worked extensively. the whole notion that small towns are not worthy of respect is what bothers me and the deeply centralist instinct that is likely to ascend now, particularly with an Obama victory.

as i said in the article, i do not think palin is remotely ready for national executive office --- but smaller towns and cities are worthy of some more respect.

Small towns are UNworthy

of our respect.

They are:
small minded

These are not traits of strength.

Dave Barnes