Heartland

Prairie Populism Goes Bust As Obama’s Democrats Lose The Empty Quarter

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Along Phillips Avenue, the main street of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the local theater’s marquee is a tribute to the late Senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern, who was buried last month, and is still regarded as a hero by many here. But with McGovern gone, it seems that the Democratic tradition of decent populism he epitomized was being interred along with him.  read more »

The Rise of the Great Plains: Regional Opportunity in the 21st Century

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This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin; Delore Zimmerman, Mark Schill, and Matthew Leiphon of Praxis Strategy Group; and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.

For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.  read more »

Cooling Off: Why Creative California Could Look to Western New York

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Sometimes the stakes are bogus, sometimes the fast lane hits a fork.
Sometimes southern California wants to be western New York
–Lyrics from Dar Williams’ song “Sometimes California Wants to Be Western New York”.

For long, making cultures and making people have been deemed outmoded. It is largely a knowledge economy. And since knowledge has been diverging into “spiky locales” known to be hotbeds of innovation, consider it a double whammy, as most of the relevant geographies are on the coast. The middle of the country is thus irrelevant if you care to survive. It is a man with a pitchfork in a sea of MacBook’s and iLife’s.  read more »

Carmel, IN Named Best Small City in America to Live In But Can Others Follow?

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Money Magazine just named the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel as the top small city in America to live in. Fishers, another Indianapolis suburb, ranked #12.  read more »

Cities of Aspiration

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Drew Klacik’s recent post on how he ended up in Indianapolis got me thinking about the unique status of what I’d describe as “cities of aspiration.” Pretty much all cities seem to be reasonably good at attracting people in the following cases:  read more »

The New Geography Of Success In The U.S. And The Trap Of The 'New Normal'

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This year’s presidential election is fast becoming an ode to diminished expectations. Neither candidate is advancing a reasonable refutation of the conventional wisdom that America is in the grips of a “new normal” — an era of low growth, persistently high unemployment and less upward mobility, particularly for the working class.  read more »

How Fossil-Fuel Democrats Became An Endangered Species

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In an election pivoting on jobs, energy could be the issue that comes back to haunt Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as the cultural and ideological schism between energy-producing Republican states and energy-dependent Democratic ones widens.  read more »

U.S. Desperately Needs a Strategy to Attract the Right Skilled Immigrants

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President Obama’s recent “do it myself” immigration reform plan, predictably dissed by conservatives and nativists, reveals just how clueless the nation’s leaders are about demographics. Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration crackdown also broke down along predictable lines, with both parties claiming ideological victories.

Yet the heated debates are missing the reality of immigration and its role in America’s future. In reality America needs more immigrants, but with a somewhat different mix.  read more »

Despite Obama’s Policies, The Rust Belt’s Revival Could Save His Campaign

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Barack Obama’s political base always has been more “creative class” than working class—and his policies have favored that base, seeming to cater to energized issue and identity constituencies including African-Americans, Hispanics, gays, and greens, often at the expense of blue-collar workers.  read more »

Thunder On The Great Plains: A Written-Off Region Enjoys Revival

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They may not win their first championship against Miami’s evil empire, but the Oklahoma City Thunder have helped to put a spotlight on what may well be the most surprising success story of 21st century America: the revival of the Great Plains. Once widely dismissed as the ultimate in flyover country, the Plains states have outperformed the national average for the past decade by virtually every key measure of vitality — from population, income and GDP growth to unemployment — and show no sign of slowing down.  read more »