Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Our Democratic Lords

F ast track has gone to the Senate, where its passage, alas, is assured. "I don't think we stand a chance of defeating it," says one dispirited union official. Indeed, labor lobbyists aren't even focusing on the trade legislation itself, but on an expansion of assistance for displaced workers that they hope the Senate will muster enough votes for, even as fast track breezes through. But this anticipated passage is passing strange. The fast-track bill, giving the president new authority to negotiate trade deals, staggered out of the Republican-controlled House by a one-vote margin, devoid of almost any Democratic backing. Now, it has moved to Tom Daschle's Senate--the Democratic side of Capitol Hill--where, one might think, support for labor rights and environmental standards in the new global economy would be at least as great as it is in Tom DeLay's House. But it's not. Put aside, for a moment, the divisions between northern and southern Democrats, or rural and urban Democrats, or...

Bulgari Pentameter:

Lear: Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never! Pray you, undo this button: Bulgari-made, Gorgeous, surprisingly affordable, Thank you sir. Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips, Look there, look there! Dies Lear, Act V, Scene 3, improved The news that the new Fay Weldon novel has been sponsored by famed jeweler Bulgari, which offered Weldon a tidy sum for inserting 12 glowing references to its handiwork in her book, is the latest entry in the master narrative of our time: the commodification of goddam everything. (In the end, Weldon decided to set her entire novel around Bulgariana rather then merely insert the occasional breathless paean to the product.) But this isn't the first time in recent decades that the line between serious writing and commerce has been crossed. Twenty-five years ago, Esquire and Xerox announced they were jointly sponsoring retired New York Times associate editor...

Why Liberalism Fled the City ... And How It Might Come Back

The strongholds of municipal liberalism are gone; the coalition of immigrants, unionists, poor people, and neighborhoods has been replaced by alliances between tough-on-crime Republican mayors and organized business. But the seeds of a revival are there.

I f you want to view the political decay of American liberalism, look at its spawning ground—the great cities. In the late 1990s, there simply are no remaining strongholds of municipal liberalism. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino has managed to retain the policies of his predecessor Ray Flynn, the one great left-populist mayor of the Reagan-Bush years, but he has not expanded them. The tenure of San Francisco's Willie Brown has been notable only for Brown's considerable panache. And that about exhausts the list of major city mayors with pretenses to liberalism. In Chicago, the latest Mayor Daley is a cleaned-up throwback to machine politics and a close ally of downtown. In Philadelphia, Mayor Ed Rendell, a nominal Democrat, has become a champion of fiscal retrenchment. The collapse of vibrant liberal urban politics has come from two directions—the top and the base. Once, federal funds provided the resources to hold together an often unwieldy coalition. And once, the grass roots provided...

City of Tomorrow

E ven by the fast-forward standards of California politics, where term limits bump off the entire state legislature every eight years, Antonio Villaraigosa has had a meteoric career. In the early 1990s, he was an organizer for the teachers' union, a county supervisor's delegate on the L.A. transit board, and president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California--none of these particularly promising starting points for a career in politics. By 1998, astonishingly, he had become speaker of the California Assembly--and today, he is the great progressive hope in the upcoming election for mayor of Los Angeles. The question now is whether Villaraigosa can hasten the course of L.A. politics-- and that of urban progressivism generally--as he has his own career. For if he is to win the election to succeed the term-limited (and conservative) Richard Riordan as mayor, he must construct a brand-new electoral alliance among communities that have almost nothing in common. The...

California's Progressive Mosaic

Pa Joad: Ain't you goin' with us? Casey: I'd like to. There's somethin' goin' on out there in the West, and I'd like to try and learn what it is. -- The Grapes of Wrath M ore than 60 years after John Steinbeck's Oakies headed west, California retains its power to confound--or even astound. Over the past decade, America's megastate has been transformed beyond recognition, demographically, economically, politically. The state that only yesterday gave the nation Richard Nixon, Howard Jarvis's Proposition 13, and Ronald Reagan is today the nation's most reliably Democratic big state. Indeed, with its Democratic governor, U.S. senators, state legislature, and congressional delegation, California is the only one of the nation's 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control. California is more than just the Democrats' electoral anchor, however. Increasingly, a number of its cities are coming to look like Justice Louis Brandeis's "laboratories of democracy"--enacting minimum...

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