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The Next Hundred Million

Joel Kotkin's book The Next Hundred Million could prove to American conservatism what Kevin Phillips' book The Emerging Republican Majority offered nearly 40 years ago. Kotkin's book however is not a political prediction book. Early reviews reflect the book's argument that blue-style politics are dominant in Obama's age but are being undercut by the actual choices that American families are making. On offer is that Texas and its major cities are now leading economic and governance indicators of what citizens actually prefer in their lives. The South as a whole comes in as a region of growth, but Kotkin notes with particularity the rise of the Texas' economy. Texas is something like our leading state now. The book also indicates a reluctance in many young families to divorce family life from the pursuit of a vocation. This is leading and contributing to the rise of the telecommuting phenomenon and the homeschooling and charter movement, which Kotkin notes is just another a way of naming what is in fact the village school. Millenials are reporting much higher levels of intent to marry and raise children as a fundamental aspect of their lives. This is to say that marriage and children aren't just an option that one picks up along the way to what is more central in one's life, namely career success.

Other "red" demographic and lifestyle choices abound in the facts of the book. We might see a generation of millenials who are strangely conservative and family-oriented but who are reluctant to actually be publicly conservative given the relativist spirit that has pervaded much of their educations. One senses that this will change under the crush of circumstances. The future could be far more conservative than we have thought. In a quiet Hayekian fashion people could be making decisions on a local level whose full impact will emerge in time but in the manner of a tidal wave. Also interesting in the book are the demographics of Utah, i.e., it resembles the 1950s in many ways.

Categories > Conservatism

Discussions - 2 Comments

Kotkin I've often found worth reading, but his analyses seem all over the place--suburbs are bad, suburbs are good; multi-ethnic America, unified America, to name a couple examples that come immediately to mind. Maybe there is nuance there, but I've found weather vane trendiness. This latest book does, however, appear to make some sense.

This is my first reading of Kotkin in bookform. I think his willingness to question things like "cool cities" and to note the growth of cities in the new south like Atlanta and Charlotte which feature families as their base is right. Moreover, I like his focus on Texas. It links up with Voegeli's essays in the CRB of late. It also and truthfully helps create a redstate conservative narrative of what works and doesn't in local government.

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