The arc of history has not always been kind to Mount Pleasant. Tucked into Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., the neighborhood was originally constructed as a stately suburb to the areas surrounding the White House. Mount Pleasant, like much of the city, gradually fell on hard times, bottoming out in a race-fueled riot in 1991. But in the past 10 years, the neighborhood has regained much of its leafy, prosperous sheen, drawing families and young people alike. Hobart Street, where I live, celebrates this newfound identity with an annual block party featuring bouncy houses as well as drag queens. Residents kick off a parade by reciting: “I pledge allegiance to Hobart Street Northwest … gay or straight, woman or man, all are welcome on Hobart Street—except for Republicans.”
No doubt many Mount Pleasant residents recoil at this mixed message, but the pledge unintentionally raises an interesting question: If you could choose, would you rather have Democrats or Republicans as neighbors?
Not surprisingly, there are partisan arguments for both sides. Take Garrison Keillor’s view: “Liberals stand for tolerance, magnanimity, community spirit, the defense of the weak against the powerful, love of learning, freedom of belief, art and poetry, city life, the very things that make America worth dying for,” he wrote in his book Homegrown Democrat. “Conservatives stand for tax cuts … [and] use the refund to buy a gun and an attack dog to take with you when you drive your all-terrain vehicle through the barricades of Republicanville.”