Saturday, April 13, 2013

The coalition of the ascendant

In his remarks at the Newtown memorial, President Obama said this:
It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
Of course at the time, he was referring to the need to protect our children against gun violence. But I've also thought of these words as I hear people talk about his budget proposal - especially in light of Ron Brownstein's article about the coalition of the ascendant.
Much of this year’s Washington story is about Obama aligning the Democratic agenda with the priorities of the “coalition of the ascendant”—minorities, the millennial generation, and college-educated whites, especially women—that powered his 2008 and 2012 victories...

The Obama fiscal blueprint released this week cautiously dips into this same current by seeking to restrain entitlement spending while invigorating public investment (through initiatives such as expanded preschool, an infrastructure bank, and more college aid). That combination would challenge the federal budget’s hardening tendency to favor the old over the young...

In 1969, according to Office of Management and Budget figures released this week, payments to individuals (primarily entitlements) and investments in the future (defined as education and training, scientific research, and infrastructure) each constituted about one-third of the federal budget. By 2012, payments to individuals had reached 65 percent of the budget—and investments had plummeted to just 14 percent.

The Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, calculates that Washington now spends seven times as much per senior citizen as it does per child.
It would be a tragedy of epic proportions if this country devolved into polarization over an argument of the young vs the old. Ron Brownstein has been one of the few journalists who's been warning us about that possibility for a while now - particularly when you take into consideration that the young are increasingly black, Latino and Asian while the elderly are overwhelmingly white.

I'd suggest that one way to avoid that kind of polarization is to take some small steps now to rectify the imbalance that has built up over the last 40 years. By beginning to align our federal budget a bit more closely to "our first job" as a society, I think that's exactly what President Obama is doing.

1 comment:

  1. I have always treated all children in a nurturing, maternal, parental way. It's important for children to not only feel that they are first in their family, but first in their community as well. President Obama feels and supports this same concept and leads accordingly.

    Voters(children) don't always know or understand the decisions that their leaders (parents) make. Voters(children) may complain loudly with disapproval of decisions made in their best interest. But leaders (parents) must lead and voters (children) must allow themselves to be led.

    @DaleF3

    ReplyDelete