Meet Joel Kotkin, a guy who is reviled by smart growth advocates and new urbanists everywhere. Kotkin, an author and trend-watcher, is fond of dashing urban dreams with cold, hard numbers. Talk about the “triumph of the city,” and he’ll parade out a long line of Census figures that show that, sorry, the suburbs are still kicking demographic ass in this country.
In a particularly shrill essay in The American in 2010, Kotkin declared, “For the first time in memory, the suburbs are under a conscious and sustained attack from Washington.” (Gad!) In a recent column in Forbes, he wrote that cities are so predictably Democratic as to be “essentially irrelevant to the Republican Party.” (Not so irrelevant that the GOP doesn’t go out of its way to suppress the urban vote, but I digress.)
Why on earth would I bother with a guy like this? Call it a tic. This is the latest in my occasional series of interviews with old white guys. (Former subjects include Witold Rybczynski and David Rothkopf.) This demographic churns out some of the crappiest ideas around. But every once in a while, one of these fellows surprises you.