Can A Rural Kentucky Republican Revive Urban Conservatism?

(Photocredit: Gotham Gazette)

(Photocredit: Gotham Gazette)

During his widely-anticipated speech announcing his run for president, Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, touted principles and beliefs any typical GOP’er would recognize.

However, of particular interest is the senator-turned-presidential-candidate’s emphasis on issues that affect America’s urban residents, particularly low income minority youth. Below are some excerpts:

“Liberal policies have failed our inner cities. Our schools are not equal and the poverty gap continues to widen.”


“My trips to Detroit, Appalachia, and Chicago have revealed what I call an ‘undercurrent of unease.’”

And this,

“I want all our children to have the same opportunities that I had. We need to stop limiting kids in poor neighborhoods to failing public schools and offer school choice, not just for the privileged, but for everyone!”


“Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as “two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side.”

While some of these statements apply broadly across America, they have particular resonance for the country’s city dwellers like myself. I have long argued that libertarianism, or at least cosmopolitan version of conservatism, can have big payoffs for cities.

This is because urban residents face at best incompetent and at worst dangerous government policies like nobody else in the country. Whether it’s the lack of school choice and opportunity, union cronies, crooked cops, wasteful spending, failed social programs, and/or nanny-state nuttiness, a Washington pol who advocates for stronger role for the individual, civil society, and the free market could have some very real purchasing power.

Cities are ground zero for government stupidity and tyranny. Poorer and minority residents regularly are threatened with stop-and-frisk-style policies as well as the ever-looming possibility their homes, businesses, and neighborhoods declared as “blighted” and then demolished. They’re also routinely denied the right to carry personal weapons for self-defense under extremely loose standard of “may issue,” meaning that local governments can grant or deny permits to carry on an almost purely arbitrary basis.

Looking at demographic trends, America is going to be much more urban in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. This means that the GOP and libertarian-conservative activists need to invest serious resources in the countries cities. Or face extinction.


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