Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

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of municipal liberalism are gone; the coalition of immigrants, unionists, poor people, and neighborhoods has been replaced by alliances between tough-on-crime Republican mayors and organized business.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

L.A. Story

T he old order still governs here; the future will not be rushed. Considering all the changes Los Angeles has gone through in just the past decade--white flight and immigrant influx, the displacement of the business elite, the rebirth of the union movement, the rise of a labor-Latino alliance--the idea that a new urban progressive coalition could officially take power this year might have been one transformation too many, one bridge too far (or, at least, too quick). Yet it almost happened--indeed, might have happened if the old order hadn't waged a disgraceful campaign to keep its hold on power. In defeating former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, a progressive Democrat, in Los Angeles's mayoral election on June 5, City Attorney James K. Hahn , a mainstream Democrat, organized one last victory for the old Los Angeles. In a city that's increasingly young and Latino, Hahn put together enough older white and black voters to prevail at the polls. Dispatching Villaraigosa...

Race Conquers All

N ew York, like Los Angeles, now has its new mayor; that's the bad news. Seldom has a city elected a leader about whom it knew less or who seemed to know less about his city. Their mutual ignorance--New York's of Michael Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg's of New York--seems almost total. In the course of his campaign, Bloomberg said nothing whatever to indicate how he'd govern, save that he'd try to follow in Rudy Giuliani's footsteps. And in Los Angeles, new Mayor James Hahn most certainly knows L.A., but L.A. knows less about him now than when he was a candidate. Five months into his term, ducking decisions and staying largely out of public view, Hahn has done virtually nothing to indicate how he's governing--or even that he's governing. Two blank slates now preside over America's two megacities. The news goes from bad to worse. New York and Los Angeles had major opportunities in this year's mayoral elections to inaugurate a new era of urban progressivism in America, and both cities...

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