Riley Parr: GOP built the suburbs that might be turning purple

Are the suburbs turning purple and will that continue?

Riley ParrOne of the more frustrating trends during the last four years in politics, mostly for us conservatives, is watching the suburbs trend less red. There are a few explanations for it, the most significant of which—hopefully—is Donald Trump.

I’m sure somebody, sometime will write about that phenomenon (or perhaps already has written about it) and its different explanations. But I want to focus on just one of the explanations, and probably a longer-lasting one at that: The people composing the suburbs are changing.

I’m sure plenty of folks think the mass numbers of people leaving many major cities in America take their voting tendencies with them. That is, somebody moving from Chicago to Carmel still votes in accordance with the general voting population of the place he or she just left (i.e., lived in Chicago, so must vote for progressives). And that might be so, at least to some extent. But what I’m more interested in, for these purposes, is the example of a friend of mine, who happens to be very liberal.

He and I met for coffee the morning after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. He spent the first 10 minutes complaining about the Electoral College—how there hasn’t been a majority-elected Republican president since 1992 (save for 2004), but somehow Republicans have dominated Supreme Court picks, and that everything would be better if the GOP would just treat people like human beings. Quite wide-ranging.

A little more about this friend: He moved to Carmel not long ago and lives in a nice house, certainly a much nicer one than he could buy for the same money anywhere near downtown. His kids go to some of the best schools in the state. The standard of living is great and the amenities outstanding. And the low taxes! I should have alerted the city of Carmel that they should send someone to film a commercial for why people love Carmel, because my friend captured everything people like about Carmel.

And yet, I can virtually guarantee that he has never voted for a single Republican. Ever. As he finished singing Carmel’s praises, I said, “So what you’re saying is, you really appreciate 50 years of exclusively Republican control?”

I have my fair share of problems with the GOP. No question about that. But people like my friend—smart, and no doubt well-intentioned—must assume that Carmel and the other suburbs simply popped into being exactly like they are.

They, of course, did not. The suburbs have continually improved as a combined result of smart policies and good government, but also because of the generally older and wealthier people moving to them. (What was Churchill’s quote about being old and a liberal?) A self-perpetuating cycle, so to speak. For instance, when my dad was in high school, East 116th Street in Fishers was a gravel road, and the only commercial life was Archer’s Meats. How times have changed. And improved.

All of that being said, Republicans are not off the hook. It may well be the case that the suburbs are turning more purple, and every effort should be made to contrast Republican leadership and policies with those of the Democrats.

It remains to be seen whether Democratic gains in the suburbs are a flash in the pan or symbolize some large-scale shift in American politics. It seems somewhat hard to fathom that large swaths of those living the American dream would support the likes of The Squad and other progressives so intent on destroying it.•


Parr is a student at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis and is executive director of the Indiana Young Republicans and president of the IU McKinney Federalist Society. Send comments to

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One thought on “Riley Parr: GOP built the suburbs that might be turning purple

  1. I’m still waiting to see how Carmel will pay for all those amenities without taxpayers being on the hook someday…

    To the point of the article, people haven’t changed, the Republican Party has changed. The Republican Party that built the suburbs has a name in common with the current Republican Party and that’s about all. Dick Lugar or Mitch Daniels would get primary’d in today’s Republican Party because they’re not radical enough. The current Republican Party is a personality cult based around Donald Trump.

    Enough voters are fed up with Trump – should be noted, Trump lost 12.7% of his support in Hamilton County Indiana from 2016 to 2020. He’s a drag on the ticket in the suburbs and that’s where he lost the election nationally, in the suburbs.

    It’s real simple for the Republicans to thrive – offer solutions for all Americans, as opposed to only a coalition of ultra-wealthy donors who don’t care about the deficit or anyone else for that matter, social conservatives who vote on one issue, and those who fear change from “those” people and feel their votes shouldn’t count anyway. But until the party divorces themselves from Trump I don’t see how they can do that.

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