As the Grand Ol’ Party gets their convention underway in Tampa, the official Republican Party Platform is taking shape, including issues on urban transit. Here’s how the Republican Party Platform reads, in part, on urban transit:
“Infrastructure programs have traditionally been nonpartisan … The current administration has changed that, replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.”
And with that official Platform policy, the Republicans have officially embraced a fringe conspiracy theory known as the “Agenda 21 Conspiracy”. Yes, according to the Republicans, bike lanes, smart growth, sustainability, and good public transit are all a Socialist conspiracy to force Americans out of their cars, into apartment buildings, confiscate private property, and allow the United Nations to take over the United States government. I kid you not.
Tea Party Republicans have been showing up at Planning Meetings across the country to oppose sustainable efforts such as bike lanes on streets, and better public transit. Apparently bikes lanes are an international communist conspiracy.
All of this seems hysterically funny except for the fact that Republicans control the House of Representatives, and could very well control the White House and Senate this fall. Already, House Republicans have voted against funding for bicycle lanes and pedestrian improvements.
Ironically, smart growth has “Conservative” written all over it, as James A. Bacon explains in his article “Smart Growth for Conservatives”. He claims that “Smart growth is too important to leave to liberals.”, and rightly points out…”
“There is nothing intrinsically liberal or conservative about the idea of creating more efficient human settlement patterns that expand the range of housing and transportation options while reducing the cost of government.”
Furthermore, while our friends at Strong Towns do not claim association with any political party, the Strong Towns case for common sense fiscal responsibility, and the problems with suburban development patterns should be something that every Republican (and Democrat) could embrace.
Unfortunately, extremism and conspiracy theories are quickly replacing true conservative values in the GOP. Their official embrace of the Agenda 21 conspiracy is just the latest in a series of moves that replace conservative values with ideology and extremism.