Obama's America

Don’t Touch That Dial!

Harry_Belafonte_Civil_Rights_March_1963.jpg

If this were the 1950s, a buzz would be going through the African American community right about now because, come Tuesday, another small milestone would be reached in our progression from involuntary to voluntary servitude. The milestone? A black man is going to appear on television.

Sightings of black people on the tube back then were rare. Hence, there was always some excitement when it occurred. You had Beulah and Amos and Andy on regularly – singer Hazel Scott once had her own show as did singer Billy Daniels. Nat King Cole had a very popular show for a while but lack of national sponsorship and the fact that they didn’t give him any money to pay his guests forced him to fold it. But you’ll notice these people were all entertainers. Real black people, those who couldn’t sing, dance, play an instrument or tell jokes, were never seen on television.  read more »

Not Even Gerrymandering Will Save Some Candidates from Ethnic Shifts

SolisPharmacistsAppearance.jpg

California’s 32nd congressional district, stretching from East Los Angeles to the eastern San Gabriel Valley, would seem like friendly territory for a Hispanic candidate. Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis’s district is more than 60 percent Latino, and there is no shortage of Hispanic local and state lawmakers eager to replace her in Congress.  read more »

Does Growing Inequality Mean the End of Upward Mobility?

iStock_000002611160XSmall.jpg

Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency won't end racism, but it does mean race is no longer the dominant issue in American politics. Instead, over the coming decades, class will likely constitute the major dividing line in our society—and the greatest threat to America's historic aspirations. This is a fundamental shift from the last century. Writing in the early 1900s, W.E.B. DuBois observed, "The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line." Developments in the ensuing years bore out this assertion.  read more »

President Obama, Bring Us Together

3202454265_cc7cbc7156.jpg

The election of Barack Obama signaled the beginning of a "civic" realignment, produced by the political emergence of America's most recent civic generation, Millennials (born 1982-2003). Civic generations, like the Millennials, react against the efforts of divided idealist generations, like the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) to advance their own moral causes.  read more »

How Detroit Lost the Millennials, and Maybe the Rest of Us, Too

iStock_000007826356XSmall.jpg

The current debate over whether to save our domestic auto industry has revealed some starkly different views about the future of manufacturing in America among economists, elected officials, and corporate executives. There are many disagreements about solutions to the Big Three’s current financial difficulties, but the more fundamental debate lies in whether the industry should be bent to the will of the government’s environmental priorities or if it should serve only the needs of the companies’ customers and their shareholders.

But there’s something more at stake: the long-term credibility of Detroit among the rising generation of Millennials. These young people, after all, are the future consumers for the auto industry and winning them – or at least a significant portion of them – over is critical to the industry’s long-term prospects in the marketplace and in the halls of Congress.  read more »

"Milk" Puts New Attention on San Francisco's Castro District

Castro_Theatre_outside.jpg

The Castro District of San Francisco has found itself thrust into the national spotlight by recent events. With the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” across the country and the continuing controversy over Proposition 8, the neighborhood so instrumental in the gay rights movement is receiving a new surge of attention – and more importantly respect – for its rich history. Yet the Castro is not a museum district; it is a living, breathing neighborhood that is changing and facing significant challenges in a down economy.  read more »

Can Millennials Turn around the Housing Bust?

iStock_000002936389XSmall.jpg

Many of the nation’s youth (and a few of their elders) are expecting a magical turnaround of America’s economic fortunes as soon as their candidate for President, Barack Obama, is sworn in on January 20th 2009. But the Millennial Generation, born between 1982 and 2003, may be more the source of the country’s economic salvation as any initiative the new President might propose.

Millennials are the largest generation in American history, more than 91 million strong. They are coming of age just in time to join the workforce, enter the housing market, stabilize home prices, and buy the nation's expanding inventory of durable goods to furnish their new homes.  read more »

The Housing Bubble and the Boomer Generation

iStock_000000336720XSmall.jpg

Much of the commentary on the current economic crisis has focused on symptoms. Sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps and the loosening of financial regulations are not the root cause of the financial crisis. They are symptoms of what has recently become a surprisingly widespread belief that individuals, families and even entire nations could live indefinitely beyond their means.

The crisis has reminded everyone that, in the end, market fundamentals like supply and demand still matter and that ignoring traditional virtues like thrift and long-term planning can lead to grief. But what does this have to do with boomers?  read more »

Young Voters Turn America Left

iStock_000003400973XSmall.jpg

Nothing made Barack Obama's victory potentially more historically significant than his overwhelming support from millennial voters, members of the generation born in or after 1982. Obama won voters under 30 by roughly two-to-one, compared with barely half for John Kerry, making some Democrats positively giddy with the prospect of long-term domination of American politics. Most of these voters also stayed with the Democrats down ticket, enhancing the mass slaughter of GOP lambs across the country.

Whether the Democrats keep this edge, however, depends not so much on the new president's personal appeal, but on whether he and his party can deliver economically for workers entering a very tough economy.  read more »

Obama: Making History but Not Ending It

iStock_000001493941XSmall.jpg

Barack Obama won a mandate among younger voters so large that it literally defies comparison, and with it, we're told, a mandate to retire tired old fights of little concern to this new generation. Yet in the long run, it may well be that his victory has only put on hold some enduring political conflicts and may even ignite new ones.

Obama’s 34-point, 66-32 percent win among the group that made up about 20 percent of voters and 60 percent of new voters was nearly four times the margin of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Clinton in 1992.  read more »