As the cogs and gears of the United States of America continue to grind, recognizing, processing, and ultimately bringing to fruition the hopes and wishes of democracy’s citizens, the political affiliation of the American public slowly changes. According to Gallup, who asked Americans whether they considered themselves a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, 25% answered Republican, 29% answered Democrat, and 42% answered Independent. This read on the national political identity is much different than that of the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that… and so on. The idea is: America is pretty evenly split when it comes to politics.
With the date of presidential election set exactly a year from this writing, and with campaigns from both parties heating up in a political battle royale involving two women, a brain surgeon, and a real estate mogul, the political climate of the nation shifting quicker than usual. New ideas and opinions are being brought to the table and backed by each of the 18 presidential hopefuls, and with convincing arguments and theatrical speeches follows a countrywide reexamination of the state of the nation, often causing the political stance of various organizations to shift to the left or the right.
However prone to change politics may be, though, time has shown that there are certain regions in the United States that seem to retain their political ethics more effectively than others. The most socially progressive cities in the country are – predictably – the most liberal, while the most traditionally minded folk in the country tend to swarm to those cities which are – predictably – the most conservative. Below is a list of the ten most socially progressive cities in America, which has been comprised using data from Gallup and collaborative research conducted by UCLA’s Chris Tausanovitch and MIT’s Christopher Warshaw in a study titled, Representation In Mutual Government. It seems that no matter where you are in the country, there lies nearby a socially progressive city for you:
10. Alexandria, VA
Like many other D.C. suburbs in the area, Alexandria is mostly populated by government contractors, federal workers, and politicians. Home to much of the country’s intellectual community, Alexandria knows how the government works, and actively fights for educational initiatives and environmental protection policies. Don Beyer, representing Virginia’s 8th congressional district which encompasses the city, is known to be pro-choice and was a pivotal player in orchestrating the recent nuclear agreement with Iran.
9. Ann Arbor, MI
In 2014, Ann Arbor boasted a 10-person city council fully comprised of Democrats. This year, one of the Democrats has been replaced by a left-leaning Independent, creating a 9:1 ratio and city council that is still characteristically liberal. With almost the entire city government painted blue, Ann Arbor is known to be forward thinking on social issues. The city is unanimously pro-choice, and has taken a particular liking to marijuana. It is important to recall, too, that Ann Arbor was the first city to elect a homosexual (woman) to a city council chair in 1974.
8. Evanston, IL
Evanston, lying on the banks of Lake Michigan, is a town focused on diversity and social change. In President Obama’s first bid for the presidency, 85% of the city’s population voted for him. The representative for Evanston’s district, Jan Schakowsky, is a left leaning liberal who actively fights for heightened gun control and has strongly opposed the Iraq war since 9/11. Education in Evanston is known to be a culturally immersive experience, as more than 50 languages are spoken and taught throughout their school system.
7. Somerville, MA
The Yankee’s of Somerville are a youthful bunch, whose progressive ideals have earned the town the nickname “Hipster Haven.” The youth of Somerville are very active in local government, and often focus on social issues like race and fairness. Unlike other socially progressive cities in the U.S., Somerville places special importance on privacy in the digital age, largely supporting initiatives to reduce the technological reach of Bush’s Patriot Act.
6. Seattle, WA
Washington being one of the first states in the United States to legalize recreational use of marijuana, it comes as no surprise that the city of Seattle is ranked among the country’s most socially progressive cities. Blazing the trail on a myriad of issues such as marriage rights, pro-choice options, and Obamacare, Seattle has solved – moreso than other U.S. states – the social issues that faced their city with an accepting demeanor. Also, Washingtonians – all 6.9 million of them – are very involved at the polls, with an average turnout rate of 90% on election days.
5. Hoboken, NJ
The average age in Hoboken lies between 24-35, making this city one of the most youthfully minded in the United States by a long shot. Perhaps it is because of this youth, that Hoboken was the first city to make progress regarding the rights of LGTBQA community. Before the issue had become as recognized as it is today, people from Hoboken vouched in support of equal rights for all, regardless of race, sex, or religion. The city government of Hoboken is known to focus on environmental issues and protection, and has emphasized the need for quality education, housing and transportation services, and livable communities.
4. Boulder, CO
Located in Colorado, the only other state – along with Washington – to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2012, Boulder is a city full hyper progressives stemming from the mixture hippie ideals and academic education. With the population of this city mostly comprised of college students from the University of Boulder Colorado, professors, and environmental activists, progress is made with uncanny efficiency. Beyond being a forward thinking group of citizens, Boulder boasts some of the most ingenuitive technological start-ups in the area, showing that it the city is not only capable of creating change on a governmental level, but in the capitalist sphere as well.
3. Washington, D.C.
Believe it or not, the country’s capital is one of the most overwhelmingly liberal cities in the United States. Populated by the players of government, who are seemingly – especially during the Obama administration – left-leaning, these intellectual pundits have decided that the agenda of the socially aware is extremely relevant. With the power to affect nationwide change, the liberals of the District of Columbia take their duties seriously. It is for this reason, and because its accessibility to the chess pieces of government, that make Washington, D.C. one of the most socially progressive cities in the country.
2. Berkeley, CA
Berkeley, becoming known to the world during the height of the 60’s anti-war boycotts, has forever been – and will continue to be – a paradise for progressives. This east bay city not only does not agree with social injustices, it does not tolerate them. Using peaceful assembly, non-peaceful assembly, activism, and boycotts, Berkeley has served as an example of how the citizens of a municipality can cause rapid change. When Berkeley is not trying to induce change, though, they are creating change. Recently, the city passed a benefit program offering free medical marijuana to low-income patients. Also, the Berkeley city council designated a day of the year specifically dedicated to the bisexual community.
San Francisco, CA
Since the beginning, San Francisco has been a far west escape from the judgemental for those who feel estranged from the mainstream. San Francisco is the most socially progressive city in the country because of its ability to induce impactful social change, while continuing to operate as one of the most populated regions in the United States. Apart from the city’s yearly gay pride parade/festival, SF activists are constantly organizing anti-war parades, art installations, and boycotts for equality on all fronts. When it comes to education, state laws, gun control, abortion, racism, and gay rights, San Francisco takes poll position in every category through their unrelenting dedication to every one of these issues, and have proven their change inspiring capabilities with their frequent social justice victories. San Francisco, coined the Paris of the west, seems to have it all… except for conservatives.
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