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

Coming Attractions

R epublican strategists have been quick to dismiss the significance of the Democratic victories during this November's elections. Republican pollster Whit Ayres declared that they "tell us almost nothing about the likely election outcomes a year from now." But the off-year gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia--held in the first year of a new president's term--usually tell us a great deal about where American politics is headed. For four decades, elections in New Jersey and Virginia have accurately registered changes in the relative national strength of the two major parties. In 1989, for instance, Democrats swept the two states, foreshadowing the Democrats' victories in 1992. In 1993 Republicans won both states, presaging the Republican triumph in the 1994 congressional elections. This year Republican candidates were supposed to benefit from George W. Bush's popularity after the September 11 terrorist attacks. But solid Democratic victories in both states may foretell...

Beyond McPopulism

Can Clinton Put People First?

T he populist movement lasted barely two decades, disappearing by the turn of the last century. Yet the movement's themes have continued to esonate in American politics. Politicians with sharply divergent agendas-- from Jimmy Carter and dRonald Reagan to Jack Kemp and Tom Harkin-- have evoked the legacy of populism. Bill Clinton called his campaign platform "Putting People First" and accepted the Democratic nomination "in the name of all those who do the work, pay the taxes, raise the kids and play by the rules." Once in office, he has continued to sound populist notes, warning that his economic program would take aim at the "privileged elite." Populist themes have persisted over the century because they mesh contemporary political concerns with the historic American dream of yeoman democracy. Populism was the first attempt to pose this Jeffersonian and Jacksonian vision of America against the encroaching reality of corporate, industrial, urban capitalism. As a political movement,...

Razing McCain

In South Carolina, the National Right to Life Committee ran radio ads bludgeoning Arizona Senator John McCain. "If you want a strongly pro-life president," the ads said, "don't support John McCain." But McCain has never voted for abortion and until this election has always been known as a pro-life senator. Why the attack ad? The reason is that McCain has sponsored campaign finance reform, which the National Right to Life Committee adamantly opposes. But instead of criticizing McCain for backing a measure that is popular, even among many Republican voters, the committee has portrayed him as being the patron saint of baby killers. The committee, of course, denies this tactic, but if you look at its Web site and click on its position on campaign finance reform, you won't find articles defending soft money; you'll find criticisms of McCain's position on abortion. Join the conversation! Discuss this article in Political Prospects , part of The American Prospect's Online Forums . In...

It's the EPA and OSHA, Stupid!

T he Bush campaign would like you to think this election is about taxes and character; the Gore campaign is focusing on the dangers of debt and the promise of expanded health insurance; and the various interest groups in Washington are pushing their own favorites--from abortion to gun control. But who wins might not make that much difference in what happens on any of these issues. Where the election could have the biggest impact is in how well the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and other federal regulatory agencies charged with making capitalism more humane, livable, and fair do their job. It comes down to this: Under the Democrats, the agencies would be likely to do pretty well, while under the Republicans, they could be crippled. A few regulatory agencies were established during the Progressive Era and New Deal, but most of them were created between 1964 and 1975, and reached the zenith of their power in the...

The Real McCain

There is another side to John McCain. (And no, it's not the volcanically unstable side alleged by GOP whispering campaigns.) Although best known for his heroism as a POW in North Vietnam and for his forthright stands on foreign and military policy—and rightly celebrated for backing campaign finance reform and anti-tobacco legislation—since December 1996, McCain has also been chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The committee is an important one, overseeing, among other things, telecommunications; television and radio; the Internet; aviation; railroad and highway transportation; manufacturing and competitiveness; and science, technology, and space. And on Commerce Committee legislative matters, McCain has not always shown the courage and insight he has demonstrated in standing up to big tobacco and opposing GOP isolationism. In fact, in his role as chairman, he has revealed an economic conservatism as doctrinaire and...

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