Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

United Front

They are, by conservative estimate, the two most goddamn tenacious unions in the United States. The Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE), which Thursday announced their intention to merge, are each known for two of the most remarkable long-term campaigns in American labor history. From 1963 through 1980, UNITE (actually, one of its predecessor organizations, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers) campaigned to unionize J.P. Stevens, a clothing manufacturer based in the right-to-work South. The workforce was biracial, the cops were against the union, the political culture offered no support, and the standard union playbook provided precious little guidance as to how the union should proceed. But proceed it did: The Stevens campaign was one of the first "new" organizing campaigns that a union had run -- relying on community-based and church-based as well as workplace organizing...

He's Back

Ralph Nader is running for president again. Four reasons why this is a big mistake.

Harold Meyerson: Nader has no friends on the left. Blasting "the liberal intelligentsia" and The Nation for resisting the siren call of his campaign, Ralph Nader unveiled his candidacy on Sunday in a performance that foreshadows a presidential bid of mind-boggling irrelevance -- but with a potential for catastrophic mischief. Nader didn't exactly draw a line in the sand between himself and his Democratic rivals on Meet the Press . Asked what he'd do in Iraq if he were president, Nader said, "We need to get the [United Nations] in there with properly funded and trained peacekeeping troops from a whole variety of countries, No. 1." That is, he articulated the position common to the Democratic candidates for president. He did, of course, assert that there were no very serious differences between the two parties, though host Tim Russert got him to concede that there were distinctions on such ephemera as judicial nominations, tax cuts, and environmental enforcement. The American government...

New Deal

Things are going unusually well for the Democrats right now, in large part because they've found their voice again. Whether that voice ultimately is John Kerry's (and a bit circumlocutory) or John Edwards's (and trial-lawyer smooth), the message that they and their fellow Democrats have been delivering on the campaign trail sounds more classic Democratic themes than the party has heard in a long time. In Campaign 2004 the Democratic Party has returned to issues of poverty and class, issues that the party's presidential candidates have not run on in decades. By the late '80s, as political strategist Stan Greenberg and The Post's Thomas B. Edsall documented in a pair of influential books, many white working-class voters had come to view the Democrats' anti-poverty programs as thinly disguised efforts to help African Americans at their expense. Millions of these voters crossed over and became Reagan Democrats. As a consequence, no Democratic presidential candidate since Walter Mondale in...

Free Speech

Though it's not listed on the agenda as such, on Feb. 18 the Federal Election Commission plans to rule on the suspension of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. Not all speech, of course, just effective political speech. On that day, the FEC will take up an advisory opinion from its general counsel, Lawrence Norton, which argues that any communication that "promotes, supports, attacks or opposes" any candidate for federal office must be paid for by "hard money" -- that is, by small-dollar donations. The effect of this opinion, should the commission accept it, will be twofold. First, it will confer a huge advantage on the Republicans in this year's presidential and congressional elections. Second, it will make it all but impossible for advocacy groups that have never participated in electoral activity, and are not even legally structured to do so, to praise or condemn the positions of public officeholders. Norton issued his opinion, subjecting advocacy groups to the...

Crony Capitalist

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- John Kerry and John Edwards will be duking it out for a little while yet, which means there will be populist rhetoric aplenty on the campaign trail. "At the heart of this campaign," Kerry said at his Seattle victory rally on Tuesday night, "is a commitment to fairness for all, not privilege for the few." Speaking earlier that evening in South Carolina, Edwards decried, as he always does, the division of the nation into "two Americas," one that receives tax breaks and has access to doctors, the other that sees its wages stagnating and has to wait in emergency rooms to get medical care. For some, this means that Democrats are again hearing ancestral voices prophesying class war. Joe Lieberman spoke for the populist-phobes when, campaigning last Sunday, he voiced his fear that "some of the other candidates . . . are drifting toward outdated class-warfare arguments." It was Lieberman, of course, whose arguments Democratic voters judged to be outdated or worse, but the...

Pages