Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Selling transit to conservatives

Streetsblog linked to an article on the infrstructurist I found very interesting. "How To Convince A Conservative To Support Public Transportation (William Lind Explains)". It dovetails with another article I read that basically says that a "true conservative" feels very strongly about public transportation because it is a more efficient use of our joint resources than highways. Most "conservatives" feel that government should be efficient, and to some "conservatives" surprise, that is what liberals think too. What is that Obama statement - people don't care if government is big or small, they care if it works?

The problem is that there seems to be a growing blur between "conservative" and "stupid". In fact, I think the "stupid" have stolen the word "conservative". When Schwarzenegger was elected I was not very happy. Over time I have grown to see him as a "true conservative", hamstrung between the "stupid conservatives" and frankly some "stupid liberals".

The money quote for me that makes my point on stupidity regards electric cars - "Conservatives don’t like betting on some Candyland promise of being saved by some new technology". I want to meet those conservatives. When gas went to $4 a gallon I would point out the concept of Peak Oil and national security implications of using so much gasoline. The answer invariably was "CHEVY VOLT!". Talk about a Candyland promise, we're betting the future on General Motors. This group of "conservatives" is so dead set against changing their ways that they will grab any line from any article or talking point from Faux News and cast it as certainty.

Lind debunks the whole "The Volt will save us" argument very quickly - even if the Volt were here in 5 years, it would take many years for the national auto fleet to turn. Decades frankly, there are a lot of 80's vintage cars in heavy rotation to this day, despite a booming economy for most of the 90's and 00's. How quickly will that fleet turn when people are broke, cash for klunkerz or no? And honestly, mass production of Volts or Teslas is a lot further away. Don't tell that to Sarah Palin or Sean Hannity, who would look under any rock to keep the status quo - electric cars, ethanol, hydrogen, etc... When did "Conservatives" become allergic to smart solutions if they require the slightest hint of shared sacrifice? When you're riding alone, you're riding with Hitler, remember?

SF liberal cyclist Katherine Roberts would love this quote...

But buses over rail saves money, isn’t that the argument?

Sure, they’re trying to save money. But they’re also trying to get people to continue to drive. If you give people buses, they buy cars and drive them. That’s why General Motors and other corporations starting in the 20s began to buy up streetcar systems and convert them to buses. It was not to sell buses. It was to sell cars. They knew if you give people buses, they will say “I’ve got to get a car. I’m not going to ride this thing.”

I am not as dead set against buses as Lind but I get his point.


Tony Bullard said...

"The problem is that there seems to be a growing blur between "conservative" and "stupid". In fact, I think the "stupid" have stolen the word "conservative"."

If you really feel this way, then you should stop using the word "conservative." If you think someone is stupid, say so, if not, then don't use a word you feel associates them with stupidity.

I say this because I'm a "conservative" but I'd like to think I'm at least of average intelligence. I may even say I'm better than average, considering I'm very much FOR public transportation.

I personally believe the fastest way to convince anyone of anything is to not label them and group them in with a bunch of other people...

murphstahoe said...

Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, etc... label themselves conservatives, and they have a lot larger audience than either you or I. As such, they take ownership of the label. And their bent is that Public Transportation is a socialist waste of the tax dollars of god fearing car driving americans to subsidize welfare queens without cars.

Doubt it? The response to the State of the Union by the Republican Party - "the conservatives" in general lexicon - highlighted the folly of the stimulus package building a high speed rail from LA to Vegas. Given that this line is far from the primary target of the HSR funds in the stimulus, this was just a propaganda tactic to use Las Vegas as a boogeyman to try to put bullet holes in all transit projects.

If Jindal wanted to debate the issues and thought that HSR was a waste of money, he could attack CAHSR - a project the majority of Californians voted for. Instead he attacked a project that is low on the totem pole simply to provoke.

CarFree Stupidity said...

For the most part I think that the Conservative movement has lost all credibility because they have forgotten what is at the heart of their philosophy and even their name; "conserve."

They left those ideals behind in favor of using cultural and reactionary messages when they saw an opportunity to ride the coat-tails of the born-again religious movement.

Combine that with the with putting the profit motive above all other civic virtues and conservatism died many decades ago. Raegen didn't give us smaller government, he gave us the appearance of smaller government by making much of its functions for-profit activities. At the same time he stopped programs that helped the poor and disadvantaged and redistributed our wealth into corporate pockets through corporate wellfare

The ideal of conservation didn't sell and went against what the business elite wanted. "drill baby drill" does not mesh well with conservation. Maybe during their exile from power a few members will rediscover the principles their movement was once based upon.