How Geography Is Changing Politics

Urbanist and Author
Our geography is an economic and political geography. It’s a geography of class, it’s a geography of political partisanship, and it’s a geography of anger. That "worries the heck" out of Florida.
  • Transcript


Question: Will we see a shift in the political geography of our country? 

Richard Florida: I think we’ve seen a shift in the political geography of our country and I think we’re... and I wrote about this in a book I wrote called “Flight Of The Creative Class,” and I said it was coming and it’s come. I think our geography is an economic and political geography. It’s a geography of class, it’s a geography of political partisanship, it’s a geography of anger now and it worries the heck out of me. 

When I look at, not only the dysfunction on Capitol Hill, when I look at the polling data from Pew and Gallup and others.. When I look at how Americans are not very happy with either party at all, and they do like the president, I like the president, President Obama, we’re lucky to have him. It’s not only the Republicans, it’s the Democrats. I think the Democrats are even in less favor than Republicans in certain quarters and where I find hope, though, this is really interesting, I do find hope in one place and it’s why I think cities are so darn important. People are really peeved about the Congress and Democrats and Republicans and partisanship, but when I go to a city, and I meet the mayor, and I meet the county executive, or I meet the council people. I’ll tell you, I can’t tell who’s a Republican or a Democrat. And people there, they like or they don’t like, but it’s not a partisan thing, they all want to build their city, they all want to make their city better, they want to make sure their kids have opportunity, there are jobs that they love, the community is vibrant, air is clean. You know, some are Republican, maybe Mike Bloomberg, some are Democrat, Gavin Newsom, I’m just thinking names, Rich Daley, Tom Mannino in Boston, John Hickenlooper in Denver, I don’t know what, he’s a friend, I don’t know what party he’s in. 

But I think what’s interesting is at this local level, that’s where we’re coming together and working hard to build our communities, and maybe that’s where we have to look for solutions, rather than looking to this kind of dysfunctional partisan, political geography at the national level, I think at the local level we’re seeing real solutions, real laboratories of innovation, laboratories of democracy. And I say in the book, I think we have to push a lot of our decision-making, not just now what we’re doing is pushing decision making down and giving them money, we’ve got to give cities and communities the ability to raise revenue, not transfer revenue, raise revenue, and take care of themselves. And I think the more we do that, the better off we’ll be. 
Recorded on April 27, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman