The American Prospect

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Q&A: Revisiting Race-Neutral Politics

The sociologist and scholar William Julius Wilson revises his stance on whether Democrats should put race on the agenda.

William Julius Wilson
In 1990, sociologist William Julius Wilson wrote a provocative article for this magazine, "Race-Neutral Politics and the Democratic Coalition," arguing that Democrats should de-emphasize race-specific policies like affirmative action in favor of race-neutral policies that disproportionately serve minorities (who are disproportionately poor) as a strategy of expanding the Democratic base. The article was a flash point in a then-roiling debate not only about identity politics within the Democratic Party but about the country's willingness to continue activist policies to achieve racial equity. Twenty-one years later, the Prospect has invited Wilson, currently a professor of sociology and social policy at Harvard University, to reflect on how his views -- and the country -- have evolved. How would you describe President Barack Obama's approach to addressing the country's racial disparities from within a multiracial political coalition? Except for his Promise Neighborhoods initiative,...

Issuu Version Of Freshman

JUNE 2009: FRESHMAN ORIENTATION Open publication

Towards an Economics of Shared Prosperity

A manifesto on long-term economic recovery from the Thinking Big, Thinking Forward conference.

America faces a daunting challenge. Even as we dig our way out of the worst economic implosion since the Great Depression, we must construct the foundations of a new economy, one that extends opportunity to "every willing heart," and provides basic security – a job with a decent wage, affordable health care, a quality education, dignity in retirement – for every working family. This will require far more than a short term stimulus. The current recovery plan must be understood as a down-payment on a sustained expansion of public investment vital to building this new economy. It is time to discard the scorn for effective government that contributed our current travails, and commit to making the investments critical for our future as a centerpiece of a new economics of shared prosperity. I The severe crisis exposes the abject failure of the conservative ideas and policies that drove us off this cliff. Now, the Obama administration and Congress struggle to enact emergency...

Editors' Note

As you may have noticed, the site looks different this week. We've just started a new subscription service that's available to you online; you'll find it when you click on selected stories from this month's print edition. If you're already a magazine subscriber, you can claim your free online subscription service today. You'll be able to read every article from the current print issue the same day it gets back to us from the printer's -- nearly two weeks before it hits the newsstand. If you're not a magazine subscriber, you can subscribe electronically today -- for the low price of $14.95 a year, not the $19.95 charged to print subscribers -- and get all the benefits of membership. And remember: These changes have no impact on the availability of our online-only content. All of our Web-exclusive articles -- as well as TAPPED , our staff blog -- remain free of charge, so the work of such TAP contributors as Tony Hendra, Charles Pierce, Terence Samuel, and Laura Secor will continue to...

Veep Thoughts

The person for the job: Someone who appeals to workaday voters The election will be won or lost in the swing industrial states of the Midwest--Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, and also Pennsylvania. If Dems have a shot at other job-losing states, like the Carolinas, it will also be because the ticket has credibility with workaday voters. Good candidates: Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. Also John Edwards -- but only if polls show that he really pulls with working-class voters better than he did in most primaries. Totally Wall Street and totally wrong: Bob Rubin. -- Bob Kuttner John Edwards: Cute kids and youthful energy His pitch-perfect farewell speech reminded me just how far he has come in the past year. The “Two Americas” mantra would play well in key Rust Belt states hit hard by job losses in manufacturing. Empathetically addressing the hardships of working families -- inadequate health care, an unfair share of the tax burden, the high cost of college...