Challenges to Democracy: National Urban Policy in the Age of Obama

Many supporters expressed disappointment that the first African-American community organizer to be elected US President did not do more to help cities. Although Barack Obama began to embrace the subject of race relations late in his second term, his urban policy seemed to disappear as his Administration endured. Here is an excerpt from a new edited volume Urban Policy in the Time of Obama.

Urban Policy in the Time of Obama (James DeFilippis, editor)Barack Obama should have been America’s first urban president. As a candidate and then president-elect, he gave every indication that he would be. But he entered office during the worst downturn since the Great Depression and soon confronted a hostile Republican congressional opposition prepared to go to the mattresses to prevent new spending. If Obama had any big plans for new urban initiatives, they were quickly diminished. Yet he did have a beneficial impact on American cities, as I will show, primarily as a by-product of nonurban federal pro- grams, stimulus expenditures, and organizational efficiencies that required no new dedicated allocations. In his second term, after a wave of racial disturbances, he also benefited from a fortuitous Supreme Court decision on fair housing. Whether Obama’s accomplishments add up to a national urban policy, therefore, is a matter of how one conceives of such a policy.

Full excerpt.

Published in: Challenges to Democracy
By: Hilary Silver