Sunday, August 30, 2009

John Kenneth White's "Barack Obama's America"

John Kenneth White is Professor of Politics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Barack Obama's America: How New Conceptions of Race, Family, and Religion Ended the Reagan Era, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Barack Obama's America is late in a chapter titled "Redefining Relationships." On the page is a description of how the dissolution of marriage knows no political or cultural barriers. Indeed, divorce is more likely to occur in George W. Bush's Texas than in John Kerry's Massachusetts. Similarly, conservative Christians (particularly Baptists) are also more likely to divorce than atheists. Divorce, cohabitation, hookups, and same-sex relationships are part of a redefinition of the American family. Today one-third of families describe themselves as consisting of a "Mom, Dad, and kids." Meanwhile, every other version of the family predominates, including single moms and dads, grandparents, step moms or step dads, and significant others. In fact, when Americans are asked to describe their families, the most common (and apt) description is love.

The reformation of the American family is only one of several revolutions reshaping our society. Another is race. The white/black world of the 1960s is receding thanks to immigration and interracial marriages. By mid-century whites will be a minority throughout the U.S., and by 2030 Hispanics are estimated to constitute one-third of the population. That transformation has found its way into the electorate: in 2008, whites were the smallest proportion of the vote in history, and in the coming years their percentage of the voting population will slowly, but surely, decline. Add to this a gay rights revolution and a transformation of the ways in which Americans worship and you have the makings of a reshuffling of the extant political order.

The country that twice elected Ronald Reagan president has receded into history. Reagan himself left the political stage twenty years ago, and Republicans have been searching for a leader ever since. Meanwhile, Barack Obama's personal story is reflective of larger changes at work in American society. His victory in 2008 validates an old political rule: demography is destiny.
Learn more about Barack Obama's America at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue