From Michael Alexander: “Really excellent piece on Sleepy Ben Carson (Trump’s housing secretary) who, it turns out, advocates for what urbanists, planners (and almost nobody else) want. 

Liberals and conservatives clearly prefer to live in different kinds of communities. Liberals say they prefer more urban, walkable neighborhoods, and conservatives less dense communities with larger homes. But studies show that homeowners of both parties support restricting development around them. And they do so in spite of their own ideologies — whether conservative voters might otherwise value free markets, or whether liberals value policies that aid the poor. …

Beyond race, the crucial divide in the politics of housing development isn’t between left and right, but between people who own homes and those who don’t. William Fischel, an economist at Dartmouth, has long argued that homeowners who fear threats to their property values are motivated as voters to protect them. …

The more expensive the home people buy (say Andrew Hall and Jesse Yoder at Stanford), the larger the increase in their likelihood of voting. That suggests that homeowners aren’t more likely to vote merely because they become invested in their communities. Their motivation also appears to grow as the value of their asset does.

One possible interpretation: “It’s not that you become more selfish, but you become more likely to translate selfishness into political action,” Mr. Hall said of homeowners. “Renters could be just as selfish, but they’re not getting their act together as a group to vote.” …

The instinct to protect property values may be too deeply ingrained in America to change.

“We have been a nation of land speculators,” Jessica Trounstine, a political scientist, said. “This is how the nation was founded.”


  1. Politics isn’t a straight line, it’s a horseshoe. The far left and far right also share positions on big government, free trade and whatever Justin Trudeau is doing now (albeit for different reasons).

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