Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is executive editor of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Can California Fight Trump’s Threats?

From emission standards to sanctuary status, the state has options for countering Trump’s attacks.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
This article originally appeared at The Los Angeles Times . Subscribe here . We’ve seen states fight the federal government before. In 1860 and 1861, it was the states that set off the conflict, taking up arms to oppose the new president. Today, it’s the new president who has initiated the break, vowing to punish states and cities that treat immigrants with respect and the environment with care, and against California and Los Angeles most of all. In his first weeks in office, Donald Trump took dead aim at the policies that state and local governments have put in place to enhance public health and safety. He threatened them with withdrawal of federal funds if they remain sanctuary cities—and no major city has claimed that status longer than Los Angeles, which has barred its police from cooperating in deportation operations since 1979. Trump also has pledged to abolish regulations that he claims hamper business, and he is almost certain to go after California’s...

The Building Trades’ Faustian Bargain

The construction union leaders who met with Donald Trump hope he’ll create jobs for their members. They must also hope he won’t deport their members because they’re immigrants.

(Photo: AP/Christian Torres)
The first time I ever saw Terry O’Sullivan, he was sporting a T-shirt on a sunny Los Angeles day more than 15 years ago. I remember him shouting to a crowd of workers and activists, making an impassioned case for immigrant rights. Newly installed as the international president of the Laborers Union , O’Sullivan told his listeners in no uncertain terms that the nation needed to give its undocumented immigrants the right to become citizens, to let them live their lives out of the shadows, to stop raiding the places where they worked. O’Sullivan came by these positions honestly. Of all of America’s current labor leaders, he is the most Irish—he’s a longtime supporter of Sinn Fein, and the chairman of D.C. Friends of Ireland—and knows just how reviled and despised the Irish immigrants who came to this country in the 19th and early 20th century were. He can reel off the indignities that were heaped upon them by the Protestants who’d gotten...

If You’re Going to Deport Mexicans, Why Not the Irish?

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP/Anthony Behar)
Consider the paddy wagon. From the mid-19th century through the mid-20th, this was the common term for the vehicles in which police hauled convicts and arrestees to jails, courts, and prisons. Consider, now, the origin of the term. The “paddies” were Irish immigrants, who were flocking to the United States in the 1840s and 1850s, fleeing the great famine that had descended on Ireland. And the Irish, some right-thinking Protestant Americans believed, were inherently a criminal bunch. In the 1840s and 1850s, there were enough of those right-thinking Americans to form a political party: The American Party, they called it, though (because when asked about their doings, many apparently paranoid members responded, “I know nothing”) it soon came to be known as the Know Nothings. With Irish and German immigrants flooding into the country (the Germans largely fleeing the repression that followed the failed revolutions of 1848), the Know Nothings experienced a brief...

Anti-Elitism, the Trump Version

It’s all been Washington’s fault. Wall Street? What’s that?

(Photo: AP/Patrick Semansky)
Donald Trump’s inaugural address, for which the heavens wept, culminated a strand of American conservatism that has been with us since Republicans began attacking Franklin Roosevelt. It is to refocus any anti-elitist sentiment away from finance and big business, and toward the political establishment. In one form or another, it has long been a defining motif of the American right, stretching from Joe McCarthy’s allegations of treason by striped-pants diplomats, to George Wallace’s attacks on pointy-headed bureaucrats, to Ronald Reagan’s war on government, up to Trump’s assault today on Washington for selling out the (largely white) factory workers to the benefit of—as Trump put it—themselves. “Their victories were not yours,” he noted. Their days of power, of betraying American workers, were at an end. Missing from his indictment, of course, was the real American elite: Wall Street, which urged CEOs to boost profits by offshoring...

Why Republicans Can’t Come Up with an Obamacare Replacement

(Photo: AP/Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
It took the United States three and two-thirds years to move from the standing start (to put it mildly) of Pearl Harbor to victory in World War II. Perhaps more germane, it took Franklin Roosevelt’s administration two years and three months from FDR’s first inauguration to conceive, refine, and enact its defining pieces of legislation, Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act—and just a few short weeks to enact federal insurance for depositors’ bank accounts. Now, compare these endeavors—some arduous, some intellectually challenging—with the Republicans’ efforts to come up with a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (or, if you prefer, Obamacare), which the GOP has been proclaiming to be one of its primary goals, if not its existential purpose, for the past seven years. Seven long and apparently lean years later, however, Republicans still have come up empty. The GOP mountain hasn’t even brought forth a mouse. Time was...

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