Urban Republicans must overcome Lott
by Dan Dodson
(published in the Trenton Times, December 22, 2002)
After participating in the 2002 Leadership Trenton program, I have become convinced that Republicans have much to offer cities. The "white" suburban party of George W. Bush has at least reached out to cities but urban Republicans are even more direct through their principles of fiscal conservatism, social liberalism and limited government. These principles shape our deep concerns about racism, sprawl, crime, pollution, welfare and drug addiction.
The Leadership Trenton program showed a serious divide between the interest of economic revitalization and social welfare. The emotion of racial victimization underlies the social welfare movement which deeply distrusts white Republicans. However there is a cold hard reality to building a sustainable urban tax base that is at the heart of the Republican fiscal conservative movement.
There are both black and white fiscal conservatives among Trentons small business community. They denounce failed policies of publicly subsidized housing, poorly funded public safety and high taxes. Republicans support school choice as a radical change to a persistent problem and they support a pro-business stance that finds strategic advantage in urban site location. Rational Republicans also know that racially spurred sprawl has led to government expansion in the form of bloated transportation departments and segregated school districts.
Urban Republicans dont have patience with social conservatives. They know that the anti-choice stance on abortion is out of touch with city dwellers. They support the Log Cabin movement and want government out of the bedroom. They know that addiction is a disease that can be cured. Most importantly they challenge racism not only on moral grounds but as damaging to our vitality as a people.
However, for urban Republicans to make progress, our national leaders must root out the Trent Lotts of the party and their sympathizers. Republicans have a hard enough time talking about tough social issues without that albatross around our necks.
Dan Dodson is a management consultant and Leadership Trenton Fellow.
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Copyright 2002, Dan Dodson