The American Conservative Magazine may among the last places in America where anyone still remembers what the term “conservative” means. Yesterday they tackled the issue of food trucks in Alexandria, VA and as usual their approach is more thoughtful, nuanced, an interesting than you might have expected.
It may seem that a “conservative” approach to this situation would be to hold on to the norm—to ban the food trucks, in favor of more anchored, traditional restaurants. Another supposed conservative approach might be to favor a complete “free market” approach: allowing the food trucks to run riot through Old Town, setting up shop on any old cobblestone street they favor.
But a truly conservative approach must be both balanced and thoughtful—protecting the old, while embracing new measures that will complement civic life. We must consider the impact, for good and ill, that food trucks might have on Old Town Alexandria, and consider ways we could bring the most benefits, while avoiding harm to the character of the district. I think the New Urbanist approach gives us some excellent insights into the way Old Town could maximize this new market for the benefit and enjoyment of its local community.
New Urbanism is not a reference you’ll commonly hear on the political right in the US without some connection to conspiracy theories or Agenda 21. Likewise, you’ll seldom hear anyone on the political right pressing government to protect community, as everyone knows that’s the root word for Communism.
It is refreshing to hear the sober voice of a conservative weighing in on a relatively mundane, but important local issue. I miss conservatives.