The future looks bright for America, according to famed interpreter of public opinion John Zogby, who will talk about his new book The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (Random House) at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, in the Welles-Brown Room of the University of Rochester's Rush Rhees Library. Zogby also will discuss the 2008 presidential campaign. A book signing will follow at 4 p.m.
According to Zogby, "a new consensus…is emerging" for America and the political and cultural divisiveness of the past few decades will soon go the way of the Edsel. Americans, he says, are looking for authenticity—in their mates, their department stores and their presidential candidates. In this bright future, YouTube and Stephen Colbert will make it exceedingly difficult for politicians to lie. Alternative sources of energy will be in, blind greed on the way out, and blogs will rescue some of the world's forests.
Drawing on thousands of indepth interviews, The Way We'll Be analyzes American consumer behavior and demographic changes that may alter the future of American life and politics by identifying the metamovements that affect tens of thousands of Americans. "My surveying shows that we are in the middle of a fundamental reorientation of the American character away from wanton consumption and toward a new global citizenry in an age of limited resources," Zogby declares.
According to The Way We'll Be research, by 72 percent to 6 percent Americans would rather see someone with a few wrinkles than inject Botox. When it comes to shopping, consumers would much rather find a decent, quality bargain at Wal-Mart or Costco than buy something prestigious of higher quality at Tiffany's. Zogby's research also indicates the decline of patriotism as a marketing tool. Among American seniors, 59 percent said that "patriotism: made in America" was important to them in purchasing products. Among under-30 consumers, just 27 percent care. Zogby describes people between the ages of 18 and 29 as the first "colorblind Americans."
Praised by the New York Post as the "pace setter in the polling business," the CEO and president of Zogby International also will focus on key events in the presidential election: Barack Obama's candidacy; John McCain's comeback; and vice-presidential choices of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. "John Zogby is often called America's leading pollster," says event organizer Curt Smith, senior lecturer of English at the University and former speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush. "The University is honored to have him discuss his book—and the historic presidential campaign now riveting the nation."
Located in Utica, N.Y., Zogby International has been tracking, testing and measuring hypotheses and principles on polling and public opinion research since 1984 in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
In The Way We'll Be, Zogby divides America into four generational groupings and analyzes the future through those lenses. The Private Generation, born 1926-1945, remember the privations of the Great Depression and the sacrifices of the World War I homefront. The Woodstockers, born 1946-1964, are the graying baby boomers turning to hair coloring and Botox to stay young. The Nikes, born 1965-1978, are the "baby bust" generation, whose formative time came during the oil crises of the '70s or the Reagan era of the '80s.
Finally, the First Globals, born 1979-1990, embrace diversity, globalism and tolerance in a way previous generations have not. Eighty-six percent of them view racial intermarriage favorably, versus just 30 percent of those aged 65 and older. Seventy-two percent of them say they are "ready" for an African-American president, versus just 39 percent of the oldest Americans.
"If the bad news is that Americans have lost faith in institutions they once trusted, like the government that so grievously failed Katrina victims, Zogby sees good news in the resilience of the young," reports the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times about The Way We'll Be. "He suggests that tomorrow's American majority will be less materialistic, less tolerant of baloney, more practical and more closely linked to the rest of the world."
Zogby warns marketers that the old tricks won't work on this world-wise generation of the future. "If you don't keep all that in mind, the kids are going to leave you in the dust, whether you're pushing a sport, a product or a presidential candidacy," he writes.
This reading is sponsored by the English department at the University of Rochester.