America is about to enter a presidential campaign that promises to be filled with divisive rhetoric and sharp differences over which direction the nominees want to take the country. This will be the fourth time in American history that the country has been sharply divided over the question of what the size and scope of government should be. Each time the issue was propelled by vast differences in beliefs between generations that caused the country to experience long periods of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD), before ultimately resolving the issue in accord with the ideas and beliefs of a new generation. read more »
Demographic transformations are changing how the American people vote. In 2010, only 15 per cent of Americans claimed to be completely unaffiliated independent voters, while 48 per cent identified with the Democratic Party and 37 per cent with the Republican Party. Back in the 1990s, party identification was at 44 per cent each. read more »
Obama had his “Sputnik Moment,“ when standardized test scores around the world pointed to the mediocrity of American students in reading, math and sciences. There is now a major mantra coming from Washington to all state capitals: the “race to the top” is on, and it doesn't include a continuation of the downward spiral of test scores. The new modus operandi: Leave aside achievement throughout the years in high school, the stream of G.P.As., the difficulty of courses taken during the years in 9 to 12, and any creative projects done by students. read more »
If you want to get a glimpse of the future of the U.S., check out Fort Worth, TX. Never mind the cowboy boots, but you might want to practice your Spanish.
Texas is growing explosively and much of that growth is among Latinos. The latest Census Bureau figures show the Lone Star State grew by 20%, to over 25 million people, recording about a quarter of the nation’s overall growth. read more »
Esperanza Spalding, winner of the best new artist award at this year’s Grammys, personifies the ethnic trends reshaping America. She is a fresh-faced 27-year old jazz bassist whose very name portrays her mixed ethnic and racial heritage as the daughter of an African-American father and a Hispanic, Welsh, Native American mother. Spalding first gained her deep interest in music watching French-born Chinese American classical cellist Yo Yo Ma on “Sesame Street,” a TV program that has perhaps contributed to ethnic acculturation in the U.S. as much as any other institution. read more »
Is success in social networking measured by the number of “Friends” you have on Facebook, or “Followers” you have on Twitter, or “Connections” you make on LinkedIn?
The jury is still out on how social media and social networking will ultimately play out, but new research shows real benefits are being realized from it. read more »
American politics is consumed by a bitter, at times violent, debate about the overall role of government and specific governmental programs.
Pundits often frame this divide in terms of geography (red states versus blue states), ethnicity (Hispanics and blacks versus whites), class (rich versus poor), or age and gender. Those factors matter, but seeing polarization only in terms of group versus group misses an important paradox about Americans: Most of us have both deep conservative instincts and liberal instincts. read more »
As a corrective for the struggles of American diplomacy, I am surprised that no one has proposed mothballing Air Force One. The jet of state is almost the perfect symbol of modern presidents, who fly around the world as if on a magic carpet, but come home with little more than passport stamps. In recent months, President Obama has flown to Indonesia, India, South Korea, Japan, Portugal, Iraq, and Hawaii, but, other than for his Christmas vacation, the reasons for any of these trips are a blur. read more »
President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were so “like-minded,” according to one Los Angeles Times writer, that they brought new meaning to the U.S. and England’s “special relationship.” Blair’s later embrace of George W. Bush, however, was less satisfying, leading to widespread ridicule that the PM was the Texan’s favorite “lap dog.” read more »
The change in congressional power this week is more than an ideological shift. It ushers in a revival in the political influence of the nation’s heartland, as well as the South.
This contrasts dramatically with the last Congress. Virtually its entire leadership — from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on down — represented either the urban core or affluent, close-in suburbs of large metropolitan areas. Powerful old lions like Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) of Harlem, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) of Los Angeles and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) of Newton, an affluent, close-in Boston suburb, roamed. The Senate was led by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who loyally services Las Vegas casino interests while his lieutenant, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), is now the top Democratic satrap of Wall Street. read more »