In an interesting essay, Milwaukee's former Mayor wants both Al Gore and Pres. Obama to be consistent and lead on fiscal and land-use policies that are good for cities - - and thus good for the Democratic base that can help the party reclaim its leadership.
Gore could use his stature to promote ending heavy tax subsidies for sprawl-inducing highways, separate-use zoning and for large lot single family housing that all have negative side effects . Doing so would help the United States reduce its carbon profile and make the economy more efficient. Conservative economist Ed Glaeser's latest book, Triumph of the City, highlights the economic and environmental benefits that flow from cities. Glaeser notes that per capita energy consumption in Manhattan is 25 percent of the U.S. national average. Glaeser demonstrates that compact urban development is not only energy efficient, but serves as a setting for inventiveness, entrepreneurship and wealth producing markets. Go to Al Gore's website though and there is almost nothing about urban policy, land-use and U.S. living patterns. If a conservative like Glaeser can recognize the value of urbanism, why can't Gore? [See a slide show of 10 cities adopting smart grid technology.]
Gore's critique of Obama as too cautious is not inaccurate. Yet, President Obama has begun to move federal policy in the right direction by ordering the EPA, HUD, and the USDOT to work together on a sustainability partnership to better serve the needs of cities, regions and states. Yes, the president should be more forceful and enthusiastically promote his agenda addressing climate change. Gore's criticisms would prove far more effective however if he hadn't shied away from the very same issue in the 2000 campaign. As such, Gore's remarks read as hollow as Obama's measured silence. Both the 2000 election and the 2010 congressional elections show what happens when Democrats hide their true beliefs and campaign on banalities- they lose.
[Disclosure: I worked for Mayor Norquist from 1996-2004 in several positions, including Chief of Staff.]