Intertitle: What job should the next President do for a day to understand the country better?
Jamelle Bouie: I think the next President should work in a fast food restaurant for a day. So many more new jobs, ongoing jobs, service jobs… So many of these service jobs are not filled by teenagers, but they’re filled by twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, regular working people. Finding a way to make sure these service jobs aren’t, if not good jobs at least well-compensated jobs, actually working one and seeing what a drag it is, is very important.
Intertitle: What overlooked issue will cause a crisis for the next President?
Bouie: Housing costs. In our most productive cities, here in DC, San Francisco, and New York, housing costs are just incredibly high. And it’s not so bad for the wealthy, but it’s detrimental for middle-class people. It creates a barrier for working people who want to live in cities and be next to this productive capacity. And it’s a bottleneck on younger people who want to move to productive cities, to do more and to advance their own careers.
Intertitle: Whose portrait should the next President hang in the Oval Office?
Bouie: The United States needs a stronger labor movement. It needs something to organize workers as workers, just for the sake of acting as a political counterbalance to corporation and to large formations of capital. I think a lot of our problems right now are directly traced back to the decline of unions.
So with that in mind, I think that the next President should have a portrait of A. Philip Randolph in the White House. Randolph is a hero of the labor movement, someone who helped organize countless African-American workers. And specifically, because he helped organize African-American workers. One of the great weaknesses of the labor movement in the 20th century was the racial divide. And I think going forward, a multiracial labor movement is absolutely necessary to building a country more hospitable to middle-class people. And Randolph I think was a pioneer of the kind of labor movement that we need.