Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Mar 30th 2011 at 10:30am UTC

The Conservative States of America

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

America is an increasingly conservative nation, by ideology and by political affiliation, according to  polling results from the Gallup Organization. While conservatives have long outnumbered liberals and moderates across the U.S., the study sheds new light on state by state patterns. The map below shows the pattern for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Source: Map via Gallup.


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Mar 11th 2011 at 10:30am UTC

Unions and State Economies: Don’t Believe the Hype

Friday, March 11th, 2011

“The bitter political standoff in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s bid to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public-sector workers ended abruptly Wednesday night as Republican colleagues in the State Senate successfully maneuvered to adopt a bill doing just that,” The New York Times reports this morning. “Democrats….condemned the move as an attack on working families, a violation of open meetings requirements….and a virtual firebomb in state that already found itself politically polarized and consumed with recall efforts, large scale protests and fury from public workers.” Rallies and demonstrations continue in the state.

As heated as it’s been, the rhetoric over unions is fast-approaching the boiling point; Wisconsin is just the beginning. The right accuses unions, especially public sector unions, of stifling economic competitiveness and putting state economies in the red. “The bottom line is we are trying to balance our budget and there really is no room to negotiate on that because we’re broke,” Scott Walker told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. Or as Harvard economist Robert Barro wrote in the The Wall Street Journal: “Labor unions like to portray collective bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion .…[but] collective bargaining on a broad scale is more similar to an antitrust violation than to a civil liberty.”


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Nov 4th 2010 at 3:34pm UTC

After the Midterm Elections: Still Divided

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Here’s the longer, unedited version of my column published in today’s The Daily Beast – It Wasn’t About the Economy, Stupid.

The conventional wisdom among pundits, pollsters, and political analysts is that the Republican victory in the midterms represents a referendum on – and a stunning of repudiation of – the Obama administration’s stewardship of the economy. “U.S. registered voters choose economic conditions by nearly a 2-to-1 margin over any of four other key election issues as the most important to their vote for Congress,” according to a Gallup organization analysis, a result that held “across all partisan groups.”

But the geographic patterns of Tuesday’s historic election results reveal a curious paradox. While the economy was clearly the voters’ number one concern, economic conditions alone cannot explain why they cast their ballots as they did. A Wall Street Journal analysis of House races found that Democrats held onto their seats in congressional districts that were feeling the recession the worst. “Of the 25 congressional districts hit hardest by the recession—measured by joblessness, poverty rates, and housing prices—16 are currently represented by Democrats. Fourteen of them won re-election despite the Republican tide.”


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Oct 29th 2010 at 1:39pm UTC

More Toronto Election Maps

Friday, October 29th, 2010

They keep rolling in (h/t Chris Hardwicke). And they continue to reinforce the depth of the class divide.


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Oct 28th 2010 at 3:14pm UTC

Who’s Your Mayor?

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Here’s a map of the final vote count for Toronto’s mayoral election this past Monday (via Torontoist). It shows the share of votes by ward. Note the strong inverted T pattern radiating out from the center.

Check out more maps being posted at Torontoist. Even more maps here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Oct 26th 2010 at 8:00am UTC

It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

With the midterm elections only two weeks away and the Democrats in jeopardy, the prevailing wisdom is that the election will be a referendum on the Obama administration’s stewardship of the economy. A large fraction of 2008 Obama voters now cite the economy and jobs as the key reason they will vote Republican this year, according to an October 17 AP poll. “The president must zero in on the economy if he wants to help himself and his party,” writes Eleanor Clift. The basic notion here, promulgated by pundits and political analysts, is that the current political environment turns on the vagaries of the economy. This amounts to a cyclical theory of American politics. And, in fact, several decades ago, the political scientist Douglas Hibbs advanced his seminal theory of the “political business cycle” which argues that economic movements have a sizable effect on American elections.

But another line of thinking suggests that American politics turns on deeper structural changes in economy and society. In the influential Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, Columbia University’s Andrew Gelman and his colleagues uncovered a paradox that both confirms and defies the conventional wisdom about American elections. While rich voters trend Republican, rich states trend Democratic, he found. The opposite holds as well. Though poor and minority voters overwhelmingly pull the lever for Democrats, poor states consistently end up in the Republican column. A second version of the structural approach comes from John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, who argue in The Emerging Democratic Majority that the rise of the post-industrial economy has tilted the playing field toward Democrats who gain advantage in wealthier urban “ideopolises” while holding onto the votes of the poor and minorities. A third perspective comes from Ronald Inglehart of the University of Michigan, whose detailed World Values Surveys identify a shift in political culture from the more traditional, religious, and materialist orientations of the industrial age to post-materialist values of self-expression, openness to diversity, secularism, and broad public goods like concern for the environment.


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Oct 22nd 2010 at 9:17am UTC

No Longer One Toronto

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Here’s the long version of my column published in today’s The Globe and Mail.

Canadians often point to the angry red versus blue divide that is such a hallmark of American politics, with higher-income, more economically advanced places voting Democratic and less-affluent, more working class locales trending Republican, as a problem that Canada has risen above. But this same kind of cleavage has become increasingly apparent in Canada – glaringly so in Toronto’s upcoming mayoral election.

The most recent Nanos poll shows Rob Ford leading in Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough, while George Smitherman leads in old Toronto. The conventional wisdom is that this is a product of amalgamation and the rise of the mega-city, which brought two distinct constituencies into one political jurisdiction in 1998. But it runs far deeper than that. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 15th 2010 at 2:35pm UTC

Politics vs. Data

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Here’s a letter signed by many leading Canadian researchers (including me) urging the Canadian government to restore the recently canceled Census long-form. This is a key source of data and serious trends-analysis of the Canadian economy, its cities and regions. It needs to be restored.

Martin Kenney
by Martin Kenney
Sat Jan 23rd 2010 at 9:18pm UTC

Pollyanna Revisited

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010


On July 13, 2009, I wrote this comment Pollyanna Has All the Friends…. Here we are exactly six months later and my premonitions have been born out. The Senatorial election in Massachusetts was an earthquake – make no mistake about it – and unless there is change there will be many more. Massachusetts was not just tea-baggers or the health care debacle — the level of anger on Main Street is rising. This can be seen in the Bernanke renomination fight, which, though likely to be approved, is probably the last stand for what I believe is a Chicago School of Economics-driven flawed analysis of the current crisis. The anger will dramatically grow if, as I expect, the market takes another terrible fall during 2010.

The Obama victory was as fundamental as that of Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s victory heralded the appearance of the mass production industrial working class on the political scene. He galvanized their demands into the New Deal. The result, after World War II, was U.S. global leadership. I suggest everyone read Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address. It is a statement of vision, leadership, commitment to change, and a recognition that a new order was in birth.

Many of us, me skeptically included, saw Obama as the harbinger of a different sector of the U.S. economy and polity, what Rich has called a “creative class,” moving into power. We all know what has happened since. Essentially, Obama felt it necessary to succor the old order, while not clearing the way for a new sensibility.

In my estimation, President Obama has about one month to dramatically change course or I fear his presidency will, for all intents and purposes, be finished and the nation will have three years of dangerous drift, while a hurricane rages around us. These are the things I think he must do now:

  1. Military spending must be cut massively and the two wars in Central Asia must be rapidly wound down. Iraq appears quiet, but Afghanistan is ramping up and will be far more costly than Iraq ever was. As an example, it costs $400 to deliver a gallon of gasoline to our troops there, and $1 million per year for every soldier there! This is unsustainable.
  2. Money must be withdrawn from bailouts, maintaining unsustainably low interest rates, and subsidizing mortgages in a vain effort to keep home prices high.
  3. The funds saved must be redirected toward jobs programs of all sorts, a Greentech roll-out, the arts, infrastructure renewal, education, and research. Most of these are low-cost, high labor-intensity.

Do you think my July premonitions are that far off where we are today? What is it that will be required to create a transition to a new order?

Kwende Kefentse
by Kwende Kefentse
Wed Jan 20th 2010 at 12:35pm UTC

Opening Up the Creative Class

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


So last Wednesday I was invited to York University to come do a little guest lecture in a class called Creativity and Cities in Urban Politics and Planning 4800. Heather McLean, the courses professor, is a PhD candidate and member of the City Institute at York University but I first heard about her in an article entitled “Why Richard Florida’s Honeymoon is Over.” She teaches a cool course, with a cooler M.O: Subject the creativity discourse that is leading much of contemporary urban policy to some intelligent criticism.

By looking at an old Wall Street Journal article and two very different conversations that emerged about it here on the Creative Class Exchange – one that is perhaps more celebratory of how the creative class theory is attributed to this situation, and one that I wrote that is perhaps a bit more critical of the role creative class theory might be playing – I tried to impart on them that it’s really important that they bring their content to the table when looking at dominant theories, and to sift these theories through that content to see if they pan out.  That content could be their cultural leaning, their ethnicity, age, political leaning, or whatever lens that they are most invested in, but it’s important that they understand that they’re empowered by that lens to see things that others who aren’t as invested as they are don’t see.  They should ask questions about what they see. Or moreover, what they don’t. Prepping to do that lecture brought me back to when I first met Richard, which is kind of an interesting story about the value of critique and about the mettle of Richard Florida as well I guess.

So before all of this DJ/bureaucrat business I was a young(er) DJ/student/journalist writing for the Ottawa Xpress. In school I was studying cities, and for the paper I was writing music and reviewing books. Richard Florida was coming to town for the Tulip Festival, and his then new book Who’s Your City? had come into the office to be reviewed. I’d just been into a lot of Richard’s research journals, and the Elizabeth Currid stuff was just coming out too, so this was an interesting time to be talking. In all of the reading that I had done I really didn’t see myself represented in the creative class – either as a Hiphopper, or as a North American Black person. So in our interview I respectfully stepped to him on those issues.

From my article/review of Who’s Your City?:

“I am a rock-ist,” he admits, “and my students have informed me of this, but I’m learning.” As it turns out, Florida reveals that one of his future projects will look at the relationship between music and the city, and that he was already taking that opportunity to look at hip-hop culture…

and then on race…

How is the movement of the creative class affecting these [racial] communities? “Probably the reason I don’t write about it [race] is that when I wrote about gay issues, I had a gay collaborator. So I felt, as a straight person, that I could then work on gay issues. It’s probably a part of my age, I’m very sensitive when trying to weigh in on those issues.”

And while I’m the first to recognize that this isn’t him leaping to engage that problematic, you ask him a direct question, you get a direct answer. At the end of the interview we kept talking about where I saw room for engagement within his theory, and eventually we started doing this thing that you’re reading right now.

Recently there has been a lot of good critique of the Creative Class and Creative City theories. Here in Ottawa at Carleton, Sarah Brouillette  is studying the Commodification of Creativity. Profs like Heather and groups like the the Creative Class Struggle are keeping a critical voice in the discourse.  And as much as there are things that I think it would be interesting to see Richard address, one thing I can say about him is that he’s always willing to host me to address those things, and likewise with other critics. A good example is Ian David Moss’ incredibly fine grained and detailed deconstruction of the creative class over at, and Richard’s response to that criticism. Or while I was in Toronto visiting the MPI a few months ago I met Philipp Oehmke who had just spent time doing the interview that leads the article he wrote about the Hamburg squatters in Das Spiegel which captures the nuance of the situation really well.

In this discourse the traditional skirmish lines seem to be skewed. All of the ire from the left seem to evaporate into a vacuum of hugs from what we thought was the right. In Hamburg the artists occupy, and the city sends talkers and crews to make sure the building is safe. In my interview, I ask this guy tough questions about the exclusion of race and Hiphop from his ideas and he invites me to answer them myself on his site. Coming from the “Fight the Power” generation, this is certainly not what I expected when challenging a dominant ideological discourse. Sometimes I don’t know what the hell is going on myself. All I can say is that, for now at least, it seems to be as broad a conversation as you want to have. Yes there are still barriers but, surprisingly, listening seems to be an emerging trend. I think people are still correct to question the root of that  - why are people listening? – but in my opinion, it’s more important that people like those students are taking the time to grow and use their critical skills to make this discourse broad enough that their content and concerns can either find their place within this discourse or expose where improvement of it is necessary. That’s a creative class if I’ve ever seen one.