Trump and the Suburbs: Is He Out of Tune with America's Increasingly Diverse Voters?Breaking News
tags: suburbs, demographics, suburban history, metropolitan history
Speaking on a hot, windy afternoon during a visit to the fracking fields of west Texas last month, Donald Trump conjured an ominous vision of suburban America under siege: terrorized by rising crime and threatened by the development of low-income housing.
“It’s been hell for suburbia,” Trump declared, touting his decision to rescind an Obama-era fair-housing rule to combat racial segregation in the suburbs, part of his promise to preserve what he called the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream”. To the scattered crowd in attendance, he added: “So, enjoy your life, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy your life.”
Nearly 500 miles east, in the expanse of metropolitan Houston, Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni is running to represent a suburban congressional district that is worlds apart from the one that exists in Trump’s imagination.
Texas’ 22nd congressional district, which is almost the size of Rhode Island and nearly as populous, is so diverse that his campaign is distributing literature in 21 languages. Protests against police brutality and racial discrimination spread throughout the region after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died under the knee of a white Minneapolis police. And Floyd, a native of Houston, was laid to rest in the district.
“This is new Texas,” said Kulkarni, a former diplomat who grew up in Houston. “It’s diverse, it’s educated, it’s dynamic.”
And it’s not only Texas. From Atlanta to Phoenix, this pattern is part of a longterm political realignment of the suburbs that has been dramatically accelerated by Trump’s presidency.
Once a cornerstone of the Republican coalition, these densely populated metropolitan suburbs are turning increasingly Democratic. At the same time, the more sparsely populated exurban areas have become even more deeply Republican, countering, for now, Democrats’ gains elsewhere in the suburbs. The fight then is increasingly for the voters in the middle, the suburbanites lodged between liberal and conservative America.
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