Appearing this morning on NewsTalk with Bruce Depuyt to discuss the latest controversy surrounding the car service Uber, my colleague Perry Stein made inadvertent reference to “Ubertarians,” before correcting her tongue slip to “libertarian.” Her subconscious was onto something. D.C. is home to a growing and curious breed, progressive young professionals who bemoan the city’s income inequality one instant and approach a black limo the next, asking “Are you my Uber?”; who condemn the government for under-regulating the banks and for over-regulating businesses and developers; who lament the decline of American labor but wish the teachers’ union didn’t have so much power in D.C. schools.
Who are these Ubertarians? Here are a few characteristics they share:
1. They support government regulation—-except when it inconveniences them. Clamping down on the big banks? Yes, please. Tighter safety standards? Love ’em. Restrictions on app-based taxi competitors, or on the number of bars or restaurants in their neighborhood? An outrageous imposition on the free market!
2. They love public transit, especially the not-so-public kind. Build new Metro lines! Add more bike lanes! Create dedicated bus lanes! Except riding the bus is so slow sometimes. Better whip out the iPhone and hail an Uber. Thank God for car-free living.
3. They hate meddlesome neighbors, but will eagerly meddle themselves when riled up. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission is opposing new development in the neighborhoods? Myopic NIMBYs! they cry. What’s that? A liquor license moratorium is up for consideration? Time to pay their first visit to the ANC, and start an online petition while they’re at it.
4. They vote Democratic, but they kind of love Pat Mara. Don’t confuse the Ubertarians for libertarians—-they’re as bleeding-heart as the next Washingtonian. But they’re born contrarians, which can be congitively dissonant in deep-blue D.C. So when a chance comes up to vote for a progressive, gay-rights Republican and stick it to the knee-jerk liberal, over-regulating D.C. establishment, they’ll jump at the opportunity. Take note, potential mayoral candidate and former (progressive, gay-rights) Republican David Catania….
5. They hate the Height Act. Government regulation that hinders the free market and makes housing less affordable to the poor? It’s an Ubertarian’s nightmare. Scrap it altogether, and while we’re at it, get rid of zoning, too. Cities are built on density and money, not viewsheds and sunlight.
Got any more traits to add to the Ubertarian archetype? Share ’em in the comments.
Photo from Flickr user Adam Fagen