Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Obama's “new city” coalition: Uppies + Minorities

Urban development expert Joel Kotkin, a conservative Democrat by background, has watched the drift of his party with concern:
The gentrification of the Democratic Party has gone too far to be reversed in this election. After decades of fighting to win over white working- and middle-class families, Democrats under Obama have set them aside.
Kotkin believes that Democrats are no longer interested in “white, largely Catholic working-class voters, the self-employed, and people involved in blue-collar industries,” families whose goals center around “achieving home ownership, basic essentials, and the occasional luxury”--folks moving to the suburbs. After all, Kotkin writes, Obama owes his success to
the urban “creative class” made up mostly of highly-educated professionals, academics, gays, single people, and childless couples. It’s a group [University of Chicago’s Terry Nichols] Clark once called “the slimmer family” [that views] “the city as entertainment machine,” where citizens are preoccupied with quality-of-life issues, “treating their own urban location as if tourists, emphasizing aesthetic concerns.”
This “new city” focuses on recreation, arts, culture, and restaurants, emphasizing jobs done by social-media sector and traditional entertainment professionals, or else service providers— waiters, toenail painters, dog-walkers—jobs “that cater to the gentry of the urban core.” In this “new city,” Kotkin says, the family, “long the basic unit of society, becomes peripheral”:
With more than half of all American women now single and more than half of all births to women under 30 now occurring outside marriage—both historic developments—Obama has targeted “single women” as a core constituency second only to African Americans. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg has dubbed them “the largest progressive voting bloc in the country.”
The “new city” dominant group are “Uppies" (my term)--urban professionals. They are no longer “Yuppies,” young urban professionals of the baby boomer-dominated 1980s.

Of course, the other main prop of Obama’s “new city”-based coalition are the generally poorer, urban-centered minorites, who account for 80% of urban area population growth. Ironically, Kotkin notes, they support Obama even though black unemployment (with blacks 12% of the population) accounts for 21% of the nation’s jobless, even though black net worth has fallen 53% since 2005 as against a white drop of 16%, and even though Latino net worth has fallen a staggering 66% of their pre-crash wealth.

Yuval Levin, in the conservative National Review, has his own take on Uppie separation from traditional blue collar values. Levin writes:
The Left’s disdain for civil society is . . . driven . . . by a deeply held concern that the mediating institutions in society — emphatically including the family, the church, and private enterprise — are instruments of prejudice, selfishness, backwardness, and resistance to change, and that in order to establish our national life on more rational grounds, the government needs to weaken and counteract them.
Live large in an American metropolis where most are in or near poverty, and feel morally righteous about it at the same time.

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