The First Big City President in a Hundred Years - The Intrepid

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The First Big City President in a Hundred Years

Barack Obama Chicago Streets
According to Time Magazine, Barack Obama will be the first urban President since Theodore Roosevelt. A shocking fact considering that since the 1920s, urban America has been larger than rural America. Rationally, voters should want politicians who share their lifestyle, environment, and values, but for the last hundred years, America has only had small town presidents—men who grew up the farm or liked to cut brush on their vacations.

Obama’s election may be riding on the coattails of an important change in America’s social structure—the rebirth of the city. In the late 80s and early 90s, America’s cities were in decline. But over the last two decades, this decline has reversed. Crime rates in most urban areas have dropped as high gas prices and other environmental considerations have made the suburbs costly. The “sidewalk ballet”—the culture, diversity, and energy of urban life—is also back in vogue, as the current generation of young twentysomethings rebel against their suburban upbringing.

The American city, with its crime and vice, has always been considered a bastardization of the American Dream. But maybe, just maybe, Obama’s election is signaling a change. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future the cracked sidewalk will sit side-by-side with the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids.