Traveling about

Traveling about

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It is really important to get away from the  I-95 East Coast corridor from time to time to feel and sense as well to corroborate what one believes is developing around the country. It allows one to recognize the vastness and diversity of the country on the one hand as well as its breadth and expanse of its majesty on the other. It also permits cynical academics who sometimes parade as pseudo-journalists to recognize that our colleagues in the ivory tower do get it right more of often than not.

Herewith a few political quickies gleaned from a brief trip out of the rarified air of the East.

North Carolina’s Red Days are Over

If you walk around the airport in Charlotte you see very quickly that the influx of the Latino population is there and growing. One need just check the staffing at all the myriad of food, clothes, and trinket shops on the airport concourses to realize the change in the service personnel. While many of these jobs are no doubt bottom entry-level positions, the young extensive Latino staff suggest that clearly North Carolina has young people with parents, children, school systems, and a growing Latino labor force.  All of them are and will be part of the growing voting power in North Carolina and indeed through much of the South.  Republicans might be able to slow it down for a bit longer, but it is clearly inevitable that North Carolina is growing into an even stronger and stronger Democratic base; unless there is a dramatic shift in GOP sensitivities and attitudes towards this largest growing voting bloc in the nation. (See forthcoming congressional debates on the immigration bill.)

Texas is Enormous

The political power and importance of Texas continues to grow dramatically.  Housing, employment, and corporate development are everywhere despite an national economy which is just trying to climb out of its bleak years.  Cities are expanding horizontally because there is so much room to do so. Since the advent of air-conditioning, there is no stopping the growth of the urban deep South and SouthWest.  The politics in Texas remain very conservative but San Antonio is already Blue and reading the Houston Chronicle’s editorial response to the Supreme Court’s decision on the unconstitutionality of the Voting Rights Act makes one sense that there are serious voices of moderation in Texas warning the State  politicians of the consequences in over-reacting to this decision.  Arizona may actually move to Blue faster than Texas, but the Tea Party fans may not have a long life-expectancy even in what was its heartland.


There is one recommendation to Congress which is non-partisan and which ought to be a demand from every single person in the U.S. who travels. The House and Senate Transportation Committees ought to have a few Members travel through the major American airports during high pick hours—INCOGNITO.  This ought to be done not by a TSA investigating committee or the Department of Transportation Inspector General, but quietly by Members and key committee staffers. This is not a comment on the need for appropriate and serious security efforts to be in place throughout the country, rather it is a comment on the inefficiency, waste, absurdity, and surliness not only of the TSA staff, but also the design of the system. If Congress compared the systems in place in the U.S. with those around the world not from the perspective of its need and effectiveness but from it inefficiency and waste, there is a chance—perhaps—at making air travel in the U.S. a more pleasant, palatable, and safe experience.

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