Declinism may be all the rage in intellectual salons from Beijing to Barcelona and Boston, but decisions being made in corporate boardrooms suggest that the United States is emerging the world’s biggest winner. Long the world leader as a destination for overseas investment, the U.S. is extending its lead as the favored land of overseas capital.
With gas prices beginning their summer spike to what could be record highs, President Obama in recent days has gone out of his way to sound reassuring on energy, seeming to approve an oil pipeline to Oklahoma this week after earlier approving leases for drilling in Alaska. Yet few in the energy industry trust the administration’s commitment to expanding the nation’s conventional energy supplies given his strong ties to the powerful green movement, which opposes the fossil-fuel industry in a split that’s increasingly dividing the country by region, class, and culture.
Nothing more characterizes the current conventional wisdom than the demise of the single-family house. From pundits like Richard Florida to Wall Street investors, the thinking is that the future of America will be characterized increasingly by renters huddling together in small apartments, living the lifestyle of the hip and cool — just like they do in New York, San Francisco and other enlightened places.
President Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser with the tech elites today, along with the upcoming IPO for Facebook, marks the emergence of a new, potentially dominant political force well on its way to surpassing Hollywood and even Wall Street as the business bulwark of the Obama Democratic Party.
By all accounts both President Barack Obama and his likely challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are ideal family men, devoted to their spouses and their children. But support for the two men could not be more different in terms of the electorate’s marriage and family status.
As the probability of President Barack Obama’s reelection grows, state and local officials across the country are tallying up the potential ramifications of a second term. For the most part, the biggest concerns lie with energy-producing states, which fear stricter environmental regulations, and those places most dependent on military or space spending, which are both likely to decrease under a second Obama administration.
Perhaps nothing has more defined America and its promise than immigration. In the future, immigration and the consequent development of what Walt Whitman (1855: iv) called “a race of races” will remain one of the country’s greatest assets in the decades to come.
The announcements by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) that they would not run for reelection reflects what may be the last gasps of the Great Plains Democrats, much as California’s 2010 Democratic landslide assured that Republicans are soon to become endangered species in places like Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.
The conventional explanation for these trends centers on culture or ideology, but the real cause may lie with an evolving conflict between two dueling political economies.
To some, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to demur from the new euro rescue plan has made the U.K. irrelevant on the world scene. Yet by moving away from the euro zone, Cameron did something more than reaffirm Britain’s opposition to a German-led Europe: He asserted Britain’s greater, historically grounded legacy as the center of the Anglophone world.
Mitt Romney’s collapse in South Carolina reflects the larger, long-term decline of the American patrician class he represents. That decline was accelerated by the 2008 financial meltdown that resulted in both the wave of populist anger now being channeled by Romney’s Republican competitors, and the rise of the new post-industrial elite championed by President Obama.
The vast majority of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, and, according to a 2011 Pew Survey, close to a majority feel that China has already surpassed the U.S. as an economic power.
These views echo those of the punditry, right and left, who see the U.S. on the road to inevitable decline. Yet the reality is quite different. A confluence of largely unnoticed economic, demographic and political trends has put the U.S. in a far more favorable position than its rivals. Rather than the end of preeminence, America may well be entering a renaissance.
America has two basic economies, and the division increasingly defines its politics. One, concentrated on the coasts and in college towns, focuses on the business of images, digits and transactions. The other, located largely in the southeast, Texas and the Heartland, makes its living in more traditional industries, from agriculture and manufacturing to fossil fuel development.
In the last years of his life Dr. Martin Luther King expanded his focus from political and civil rights to include economic justice. Noting that the majority of America’s poor were white King decried the already huge gaps between rich and poor, calling for “radical changes in the structure of our society,” including a massive urban jobs program.
“I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer,” said President Obama this week as he claimed new powers for himself in making recess appointments while Congress wasn’t legally in recess. The chief executive’s power grab in naming appointees to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board has been depicted by administration supporters as one forced upon a reluctant Obama by Republican intransigence. But this isn’t the first example of the president’s increasing tendency to govern with executive-branch powers.
In an election year, politics dominates the news, but economics continue to shape people’s lives. Looking ahead to 2012 and beyond, it is clear that the United States is essentially made up of many economies, each with distinctly different short- and long-term prospects. We have highlighted the five regions that are most poised to flourish and help boost the national economy.