Suburban Nation, but Urban Policies

Appearing in:

Politico

Ideologues may set the tone for the national debate, but geography and demography determine elections.

In America, the dominant geography continues to be suburbia – home to at least 60 percent of the population and probably more than that portion of the electorate. Roughly 220 congressional districts, or more than half the nation’s 435, are predominately suburban, according to a 2005 Congressional Quarterly study. This is likely to only increase in the next decade, as Millennials begin en masse to enter their 30s and move to the periphery. Read more

Who’s Racist Now? Europe’s Increasing Intolerance

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

With the rising tide of terrorist threats across Europe, one can somewhat understandably expect a   surge in Islamophobia across the West. Yet in a contest to see which can be more racist, one would be safer to bet on Europe than on the traditional bogeyman, the United States.

One clear indicator of how flummoxed Europeans have become about diversity were the remarks last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that multi-culturalism has “totally failed” in her country, the richest and theoretically  most capable of absorbing immigrants. “We feel tied to Christian values,” the Chancellor said. “Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here.”

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California’s Failed Statesmen

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

The good news? Like most rock or movie stars, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with California. It’s still talented, and retains great physical gifts. Our climate, fertility and location remain without parallel. The state remains pre-eminent in a host of critical fields from agriculture to technology, entertainment to Pacific Rim trade.

California can come back only if it takes a 12-step program to jettison its delusions. This requires, perhaps more than anything, a return to adult supervision. Most legislators, in both parties, appear to be hacks, ideologues and time-servers. This time, when the danger is even greater, we see no such sense of urgency. Instead we have a government that reminds one more of the brutally childish anarchy of William Golding’s 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies.” Read more

Latino Dems Should Rethink Loyalty

Appearing in:

Politico

Given the awful state of the economy, it’s no surprise that Democrats are losing some support among Latinos. But they can still consider the ethnic group to be in their pocket. Though Latinos have not displayed the lock-step party loyalty of African-Americans, they still favor President Barack Obama by 57 percent, according to one Gallup Poll — down just 10 percentage points from his high number early in the administration.

This support is particularly unusual, given that probably no large ethnic group in America has suffered more than Latinos from the Great Recession. This is true, in large part, because Latino employment is heavily concentrated in manufacturing, and even more so in construction. Read more

Where’s Next: November May Determine Regional Winners

As the recovery begins, albeit fitfully, where can we expect growth in jobs, incomes and, most importantly, middle class opportunities? In the US there are two emerging “new” economies, one largely promoted by the Administration and the other more grounded in longer-term market and demographic forces.

The November election and its subsequent massive expansion of federal power may have determined which regions win the post-bust economy, but the stakes in November are particularly acute for some prime beneficiaries of what could be called the Obama economy: the education lobby, Silicon Valley venture firms, Wall Street, urban land interests and the public sector. All backers of his 2008 campaign, these groups have either reaped significant benefits from the stimulus or have used it to bolster themselves from the worst impact of the recession. Read more

Sarah Palin: The GOP’s Poison Pearl

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Sarah Palin has emerged as the right’s sweetheart, a cross between a pin-up girl and Joan of Arc. For some activists, like the American Thinker‘s Lloyd Marcus, she’s “my awesome conservative sister” who the mainstream media wants to “destroy at any cost.”

On a more serious note, leading right-wing pundit Roger Simon argues Palin’s is now the biggest name in Republicandom, which he admits is not too great an accomplishment. Armed with “something more than intellect,” he praises her unique ability to “connect with the base.” He also believes, citing some polls for 2012, that she could run a close race against President Obama.

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The Golden State’s War on Itself

Appearing in:

The City Journal

California has long been a destination for those seeking a better place to live. For most of its history, the state enacted sensible policies that created one of the wealthiest and most innovative economies in human history. California realized the American dream but better, fostering a huge middle class that, for the most part, owned their homes, sent their kids to public schools, and found meaningful work connected to the state’s amazingly diverse, innovative economy. Read more

A New War Between The States

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Nearly a century and half since the United States last divided, a new “irrepressible conflict” is brewing between the states. It revolves around the expansion of federal power at the expense of state and local prerogatives. It also reflects a growing economic divide, arguably more important than the much discussed ideological one, between very different regional economies.

This conflict could grow in the coming years, particularly as the Obama administration seeks to impose a singular federal will against a generally more conservative set of state governments. The likely election of a more center-right Congress will exacerbate the problem. We may enter a golden age of critical court decisions over the true extent of federal or executive power.

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How Obama Lost Small Business

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Financial reform might irk Wall Street, but the president’s real problem is with small businesses—the engine of any serious recovery. Joel Kotkin on what he could have done differently.

The stock market, with some fits and starts, has surged since he’s taken office. Wall Street grandees and the big banks have enjoyed record profits. He’s pushed through a namby-pamby reform bill—which even it’s authors acknowledge is “not perfect”—that is more a threat to Main Street than the mega-banks. And yet why is Barack Obama losing the business community, even among those who bankrolled his campaign? Read more

The Democrats’ Middle-Class Problem

Appearing in:

Politico

Class, the Industrial Revolution’s great political dividing line, is enjoying Information Age resurgence. It now threatens the political future of presidents, prime ministers and even Politburo chiefs.

As in the Industrial Age, new technology is displacing whole groups of people — blue- and white-collar workers — as it boosts productivity and creates opportunities for others. Inequality is on the rise — from the developing world to historically egalitarian Scandinavia and Britain.

Divisions are evident here in the United States. Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama lagged in appealing to white middle- and working-class voters who supported Hillary — and former President Bill — Clinton. Read more