Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our First Urban President

With so much discussion about President Obama being our first Black President, the fact that Barack Obama is one of our first urban Presidents slipped right by me. This distinction, which is not as significant as being the first black president, is an important one nonetheless. In a country that is 80% urbanized it is time that our leaders stop catering to the heartland and those in the fringes and start governing to fix the persistent problems of urban core of America, where the general population lives.

A recent Esquire Magazine article had an excellent breakdown of urban, suburban and rural voters over the last twenty years to show who they voted for. The article quotes:

"If Bill Clinton was the first black president, then Barack Obama might be the first urban one. He is the only American president in recent history to seem unembarrassed about claiming a personal residence in a major American city. Instead, presidents have tended to hail from homes called ranches or groves or manors or plantations, in places called Kennebunkport or Santa Barbara or Oyster Bay or Northampton."

The articles continues...

"...In 1992, when Bill Clinton won his first term, 35 percent of American voters were identified as rural according to that year's national exit polls, and 24 percent as urban. This year, however, the percentage of rural voters has dropped to 21 percent, while that of urban voters has climbed to 30. The suburbs, meanwhile, have been booming: 41 percent of America's electorate in 1992, they represent 49 percent now (see chart)."

To read the rest if the article, click here.

According to the article, Urban America now outweighs Rural America in voter turnout. What does this mean? And what implications will this have for the future? Well hopefully, we can now hold politicians accountable for their actions or lack thereof in addressing urban problems such as poverty, crime and equality. Too many times the problems of the city where used as a political football to kick around by both parties to either use to exploit or incite fear but never to actually address the problem.

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