Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. 

Recent Articles

Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser, and Our New Treasury Secretary

Trump’s appointee is the very model of a predatory lender.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized Wall Street bankers for their excessive political influence and attacked hedge-fund managers for getting away with “murder” under the current tax code. “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,” Trump said on Face the Nation . “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.” Now, however, Trump has tapped Steve Mnuchin, a 53-year-old Wall Street hedge-fund and banking mogul—and, since May, his campaign-finance chair—to be the nation’s secretary of the Treasury. Trump’s earlier rhetoric aside, it’s actually a good match. Both Trump and Mnuchin earned their first fortunes the old fashion way: They inherited them. Trump took over his father Fred’s real-estate empire and expanded it through questionable business practices. Mnuchin, also the scion of a wealthy and well-connected family, graduated from Yale in 1985, started his career...

Democrats Must Mobilize America’s Largest Political Party: Nonvoters

Nearly half of eligible voters did not cast a ballot on November 8, and most of them are people the Democratic Party should be targeting.

(Photo: AP/Jon Elswick)
When all the votes are counted, it is likely that Hillary Clinton will have two million more votes than Donald Trump. Among those who voted, Clinton beat Trump by about 1.5 percentage points, a larger margin that several victorious presidential candidates, including John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Richard Nixon in 1968. But the Electoral College determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, so winning the popular vote is small solace for Clinton and her supporters. The first female candidate with a serious shot at winning the presidency lost most of the key battleground states she need to win. How and why did that happen? What’s missing from most mainstream analyses is that the largest political party in Tuesday’s election was the “Nonvoters Party,” a nationally known group that usually posts strong numbers in American elections. People who did not cast a ballot represented 41.6 percent of all eligible voters, compared with the 27.5 percent of all eligible...

‘Loving’ Reminds Us of an Earlier Struggle for Marriage Equality

A new movie about the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized interracial marriage resonates today in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges.

(Photo: Flickr/Ted Eytan/taedc)
Should we allow states to decide whether black Americans may marry white Americans? Today, such an idea seems absurd. Most Americans believe that states shouldn't be permitted to trample on the basic right of interracial couples to marry. It would be unfair—a clear violation of civil rights. But in 1958, when half the states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage, 94 percent of Americans opposed marriage between blacks and whites. Even by 1967, almost three-quarters—72 percent—of Americans still opposed interracial marriage, and 16 states still had such laws on the books. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down those state anti-miscegenation laws, placing it far ahead of public opinion. At the time, Southern racists used “states’ rights” as the justification to defend Jim Crow laws, including school segregation, racial discrimination in restaurants and on buses, severe limits on voting by African Americans, as well as bans on...

Making the Most of Your Luck

The role of sheer fortune challenges the politics of the fortunate—and the conceits of economics. 

Library of Congress
Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good By Chuck Collins Chelsea Green Publishing Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy By Robert H. Frank Princeton University Press This article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Chuck Collins is a traitor to his class and proud of it. The great-grandson of meatpacker Oscar Mayer, he grew up in affluent Bloomfield Hills outside Detroit, went to the same elite Cranbrook School as Mitt Romney, and enjoyed the entitlements that come with inherited wealth. But his parents made sure that Collins understood his good luck and encouraged him, as a teenager, to work to earn his own money (often mowing the lawns of his parents’ wealthy friends) and to engage in service projects to help the less fortunate. As a student in the 1970s and early 1980s, Collins felt ashamed of his moneyed background,...

Mourn. Then Organize.

This nation has survived political crises before, and it will again if progressives refrain from pointing fingers and start organizing.

Molly Riley/AP Images for AVAAZ
At a time like this, many liberals and progressives will recall the words of labor activist Joe Hill: “Don't mourn, organize.” But let's be honest. We're in shock. We need time to mourn. To recover from the trauma of this election. I feel awful for my 19-year-old twin daughters, who voted for the first time this year and now have to spend their college years with Trump as president. They're upset. They talked about moving to Canada. They were half serious. We talked and texted all night, trying to console ourselves. It was tough. I reminded them that we've been through periods like this before. The Civil War. The Gilded Age. The Great Depression. I told them that in 1968, when I was 20, America elected Richard Nixon. At the time, we thought that this was the apocalypse. I had worked for Bobby Kennedy's campaign. His murder in June of that year was traumatic. He certainly would have beaten Nixon, brought together the civil-rights, union, and anti-war movements, and pushed...

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