27.12.2012   22:02

Is America’s Future Progressive?

Joel Kotkin schreibt: Progressives may be a lot less religious than conservatives, but these days they have reason to think that Providence – or Gaia — has taken on a bluish hue. From the solid re-election of President Obama, to a host of demographic and social trends, the progressives seem poised to achieve what Ruy Texeira predicted a decade ago: an “emerging Democratic majority”.

Virtually all the groups that backed Obama — singles, millennials, Hispanics, Asians — are all growing bigger while many of the core Republican groups, such as evangelicals and intact families, appear in secular decline.

And then, the Republicans, ham handed themselves, are virtually voiceless (outside of the Murdoch empire) in the mainstream national media.

Whatever the issue that comes up — from Hurricane Sandy to the Newtown shootings or the “fiscal cliffs” — the Republicans, congenitally inept to start with, end up being portrayed as even more oafish.

Not surprising then that progressive boosters feel the wind of inexorability to their backs. Red states, and cities, suggests Richard Florida are simply immature versions of blue state ones; progress means density, urbanity, apartment living and the decline of suburbs. Republicans, he argues, are “at odds with the very logic of urbanism and economic development.”

Yet I am not sure all trends are irredeemingly progressive. For one thing, there’s this little matter of economics. What Florida and the urban boosters often predict means something less progressive than feudalist. The Holy Places of urbanism such as NewYork, San Francisco, Washington DC also suffer some of the worst income inequality, and poverty, of any places in the country.

The now triumphant urban gentry have their townhouses and high-rise lofts, but the service workers who do their dirty work have to log their way by bus or car from the vast American banlieues, either in peripheral parts of the city (think of Brooklyn’s impoverished fringes) or the poorer close-in suburbs. This progressive economy works from the well-placed academics, the trustfunders and hedge funders, but produces little opportunity for a better life for the vast majority of the middle and working class.
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