Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Nov 5th 2008 at 2:11pm UTC

Triumph of the Creative Class – Joel Kotkin

Barack Obama rode to his resounding victory on the enthusiasm of two constituencies, the young and African Americans, whose support has driven his candidacy since the spring. Yet arguably the biggest winners of the Nov. 4 vote are located at the highest levels of the nation’s ascendant post-industrial business community.

Obama’s triumph reflects a decisive shift in the economic center of gravity away from military contractors, manufacturers, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, suburban real estate developers, energy companies, old-line remnants on Wall Street and other traditional backers of the GOP. In their place, we can see the rise of a different set of players, predominately drawn from the so-called “creative class” of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the younger, go-go set in the financial world.

These latter business interests provided much of the consistent and massive financial advantage that the Illinois senator has accrued since early spring. The term “creative class” was popularized by former George Mason professor Richard Florida, who used it to describe those with both brainy business acumen and a very liberal cultural agenda borrowed from the bohemians of the ’60s.

I’m dumb-struck. The rest here.

10 Responses to “Triumph of the Creative Class – Joel Kotkin”

  1. David Miller Says:

    Maybe you should buy Lottery tickets today.

  2. Wendy Says:

    What’s odd is that after that great introduction quoted above, it’s not clear where Kotkin stands on the question of whether this was indeed a triumph of the creative class: he goes on to suggest that this “creative class” is really and “elite” group representing no more than 5% of America.

    “cultural creatives” at the core of Florida’s formulation represent likely no more than 5% of the population. After all, most college-educated workers live in suburbs, have children and even attend conservative churches.

    In contrast, the narrower “creative” group clusters heavily in the very areas–college towns, urban centers, some elite suburbs–where Obama has done exceedingly well from early on in the campaign. Nearly one quarter of the core “creative group,” those working in the arts and culture industries, live in just two cities, New York and Los Angeles.

  3. David Miller Says:

    I agree with Wendy. He really played the elitism card, which is not what Richard speaks of at all. It is one of the great “myths” of the creative class and it is disappointing that Kotkin chose to go that route. The results in NC, Virginia, and Colorado highlight that.

  4. Wendy Says:

    It’s interesting that Kotkin also sees Obama and those who voted for him as “hostile” to suburbia, the industrial economy, etc. and as a potential threat to that other economy.

    I’m not sure Obama, his supporters or even most economists would see it as an “either/or” question.

  5. Michael S. Says:

    Something to think about…the “creative class” set the stage (quite literally) for Obama. Hollywood created a hugely popular TV show a few years back called “24″ where one of the main characters was a black president. This got Americans used to the idea that a black man could not only be president but could govern well and with integrity.

    Conspiracy Theorists might even suggest this character was created precisely to help Obama (or someone like him) rise to the presidency in real life.

    Is there any argument against this very simplistic view? Can a TV program have that much influence?

    In my opinion, Moderates of both parties and Independents swayed the vote for Obama not African Americans or the young voter. I would also bet that the majority who make up these two groups are predominately white. This is what makes it such a profound victory for Obama. Amazing days ahead for America. This historic event shows that finally it is truly possible for anyone to be anything they want to be regardless of race. Welcome back to the world America!!

  6. David J. Miller Says:

    Michael S. — does that mean that Obama will be doing Allstate commercials in 4 years?

    Seriously though, I don’t think that 24 set the stage for Obama. He set it for himself with his 2004 convention speech. Anyone who saw that speech knew the guy was something special (regardless of race)….

    That said, the creative class played a huge role in this election; yes through the media (from press, to SNL, Oprah, John Stewart, etc.), but more importantly through creative class attributes of talent/technology/tolerance… Obama represented all 3 of the T’s.

    But like any product or offering — no matter how good the marketing/communication — the product itself (Obama) had to offer value. Obama was selling and idea/concept/vision that a large part of the Democratic/Independents wanted

  7. Jim H Says:

    Something else happened on Tuesday: The begining of the ascent of the Libertarian Party replacing the Republican Party. I am convinced that the majority of peple who voted for McCain (such as myself), are going to retool and put our support behind the Libertarian brand. The most compelling item to us (52 million + strong) is that we don’t want to live in a nanny/welfare society. Nothing turned me off more than the class warfare waged by the democrats when they were pandering for votes.

    It’s always easier to spend other peoples’ money, but when that “forgotten man” turns out to be you, you will rethink the wisdom of handouts and fair. The creative class is going to move over to the Libertarian side as they age and lose romantic notions about what the government can and can’t do to make an individuals life “better”.

  8. Zoe B Says:

    Jim, let’s take the example of ADA legislation. What a pain that we have to build and retool buildings to welcome people with disabilities. How many people are we actually helping? The bother! The cost! The violations of aesthetic design! The space-hogging bathroom stalls that mostly get used by the rest of us anyway! Really, we should rely upon individual efforts. Good people should help that handicapped person get in and out of the building, on and off the toilet. It’s cheaper. It’s more efficient: we only provide the helping hand to the individuals who need it, as determined on a case-by-case basis. It gives us more opportunities to perform a charitable act – and thus show the world (and God) what nice people we are.

    ADA made it possible for my wheelchair-bound father to go so many places. Museums, restaurants, movie theaters, government buildings, public transit, public bathrooms…. But he can’t travel out of the USA anymore (OK, maybe to Canada). No other nation has so chosen to support the equal rights of the disabled. Thank you Robert Dole, and the other members of Congress, who so enhanced my father’s life (and perhaps one day, mine) with a little bit of federal legislation.

  9. hayden fisher Says:

    I would add student loans to Zoe’s comments. I would not have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from law school without the federal student loan program as I had no ability to repay the loans except my drive to earn the degree and, thereby, an earning capacity that could be employed to repay the loans.

    Government has a role to play. It should supplant or at least augment the commercial banks as the commercial lenders and begin commercial lending not based on assets alone but on the quality of the ideas and people behind the business plans. Some people start businesses on credit cards and succeed; most fail but could succeed if he, she or they had access to the capital necessary to begin.

    But I agree, generally, that the as-is GOP is dead and will either be re-invented or replaced by something more socially moderate/libertarian and fiscally pragmatic. I think this is good generally, the negative being that if we become too politically fragmented, the extremes on either side of the right and left could overtake us all.

  10. BP Beckley Says:

    It’s interesting that Kotkin also sees Obama and those who voted for him as “hostile” to suburbia, the industrial economy, etc. and as a potential threat to that other economy.

    I don’t know what Obama himself thinks. I certainly see very little concern for the future of the industrial economy (and the millions of people still directly dependent on it) in forums such as this one. It’s not hard to believe that the whole thing could go down the tubes (even more so than it already has, anyway) and many many people would get no further than saying, “Boy, ain’t that a shame. Glad I’m not involved.”