John Judis

John B. Judis is an editor at large at Talking Points Memo and the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.

Recent Articles

Global Warming and the Big Shill

B ecause Vice President Al Gore is an ardent environmentalist, the Clinton White House has placed a high priority on getting an international global warming treaty. One member of the National Security Council is assigned to oversee the treaty that the United States and other industrialized nations agreed to in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. And the White House has a Climate Change Task Force consisting of eight people. But it looks as though the administration will not even send the treaty to the Senate for ratification before Clinton's term expires. That's partly because it is having difficulty getting developing countries, particularly China, India, and Mexico, to agree to specific limits on their release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But it is also because even before the Kyoto meeting occurred, conservative Republicans joined forces with business foes of the treaty to wage a fierce, take-no-prisoners campaign against it. Not the least because of Gore's involvement in the...

Deregulation Run Riot

After winning control of Congress in November 1994, the Republican leadership, working closely with business lobbyists and policy groups, launched an ambitious effort to roll back a century of reform legislation—from the food and drug laws of the Progressive Era to the New Deal's Social Security Act to the workplace and environmental regulation of the first Nixon administration. Congressional Democrats blocked most of these efforts in the House and Senate, and the Clinton administration vetoed others, but conservatives have continued to press their agenda—in committee hearings, in mysterious riders attached to appropriations bills, and in the courts, some of which are still dominated by Reagan and Bush administration appointees. One key battle has taken place in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia—the Court that handles most challenges to federal regulation. This May, a three-judge panel handed down a ruling that prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)...

Science Fiction

G eorge W. Bush is getting lots of credit for giving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) their biggest boost ever, but his increases in spending on research in health care and defense are obscuring drastic cuts in all other kinds of scientific research. When you look closely at Bush's science budget, what you discover is wildly skewed priorities. You also discover what is becoming increasingly obvious--that Bush is not a new type of Republican but a typical country club conservative who is determined to eliminate government regulation of business and to cut spending except on programs that favor his large campaign contributors. To appreciate how conservative Bush's science budget is, you have to look first at what happened to federal spending on science over the last decade. Spending on science reached a peak in 1993. It plummeted under the Republican Congress that came to power in November 1994; but then it revived in the last two years of Bill Clinton's second term to the level...

The Conservative Crackup

Conservative intellectuals are now facing some of their toughest adversaries ever—each other.

As late as 1950, investigators who set out to discover an American conservative movement would have failed abysmally. They would have found a large and fractious right wing ranging from isolationist followers of Senator Robert Taft (who insisted on calling himself a "liberal") to the anti-Semites and racists who joined Gerald L.K. Smith's Christian Nationalist Party. They might also have come across a group of Ivy League intellectuals such as McGeorge Bundy and August Heckscher who called themselves the "new conservatives" but would later be described as establishment liberals. The conservative movement that began emerging in the mid-1950s, particularly with the founding of William F. Buckley's National Review, was a novel creation that bore at best a family resemblance to the older American right and to British and European conservatism. It produced a new synthesis in American politics, blending militant anticommunism and opposition to the welfare state with nostalgia about America's...

The Pressure Elite: Inside the Narrow World of Advocacy Group Politics

Today’s advocacy groups are remotely democratic—all too remotely.

In the 1950s, in the midst of what C. Wright Mills called the "great American celebration," mainstream political scientists conceived of modern American democracy as a more or less equal contest among large-scale groups -- the most important being farmers, workers, and business. (Chapters Two through Five of V.O. Key's classic Politics, Parties and Pressure Groups were aptly entitled "Agrarianism," "Workers," "Business," and "Other Interest Groups.") Each social group had its own organizations -- from the American Farm Bureau to AFL-CIO to the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) -- and each enjoyed special power within one of the major political parties. Since almost every adult American was either a farmer, worker, or businessman, or married to one, almost everyone was represented within this pluralistic system. It was not the direct democracy of Athens, but it was as close to a representative democracy as a large modern nation could come. This...

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